You hold a bachelor’s degree in engineering, are employed and earn a good salary, but it’s taking you forever to move up the career ladder. You’ve seen others get employed and promoted above you. You’ve been in the same position for years, and you know something has to change.
A second degree, like a master’s engineering management online, is one of the fastest ways to get out of the rut. Many working professionals are going back to school to earn a second degree. They understand that employers, although impressed by a first degree, like it even better when an employee adds to their skills and knowledge with a second one.
The second degree doesn’t have to veer away from your current career. It only needs to add to it. Hence, if you already have an engineering degree, you can add to your skills by enrolling for a degree in engineering management. So long as you choose a course of study that is related or tangential, you will move to the top faster.
For many adults, second degrees are not something to be taken lightly. They have jobs and families, money is tight and going back to school feels like a big commitment. They wonder whether they will have the time, if they can afford it and whether it will be a good return on investment.
It may help if you consider common reasons why so many are going back to university to expand their skill set.
Why you should get a second degree
Before you commit to pursuing a course, it helps if you know exactly why you are doing it. If the benefits are clear, it will be easier for you to put in the necessary effort to attain qualifications that enhance your career. Here are some of the benefits of adding a second degree to your existing qualifications:
You will open up career opportunities
Maybe you’ve been working in the same company for the last 10 or 15 years, and you feel you could do better elsewhere. Or maybe you’ve seen younger people join and get promoted while you are stuck in the same position.
With a second degree, you can apply for new positions, better pay and more benefits, and you will have the qualifications to support your degree.
For an engineering professional, for example, adding to your skill set with a master’s in engineering management online means that whenever there is an opening in management, you can put in your application without worrying that you may not have the right skill set.
A second degree gives you opportunities elsewhere
Many baby boomers worked the same job from the time they graduated until they retired, however today’s work landscape is different. Professionals want to work in a few different companies before they retire. This is because a varied career shows that they have a variety of skills and abilities that are appreciated by different employers.
The job market is in flux and your skillset needs to evolve if you hope to get to the top. Commonly asked questions include how often one should change companies, how often is too often, and how to know when you have stayed too long in one job.
There are no hard and fast answers. You have to think about why you want to change jobs. If, for example, you have been with the same company for three years and haven’t been promoted, it may be time to consider a move. If, on the other hand, you join a company that has a poor work culture, you may want to move sooner than that.
You may also want to change jobs if you don’t feel challenged. If you don’t do well in your current role, it may be time to move to a new company, and a second degree will help you gain skills that help you be more competent in the future.
When your career has hit a ceiling
It happens all the time. People get stuck in jobs with no room to move upward.
Imagine, for example, that you have a bachelor’s in engineering, and you started as an apprentice engineer. You moved to junior engineer and then engineer. Your last promotion was to senior engineer. There is no place to go after that because the next tier is management. Open positions include principal engineer or director of engineering.
Rather than stay in the role of senior engineer, you can enroll in master’s engineering management online and earn the qualifications necessary for you to move into available roles in your company.
When reentering the workforce
It isn’t uncommon for individuals to leave their careers for some time and then reenter the workforce when they are ready to return.
Whatever the reasons for the work experience gap, you will be a more competitive hire if you have a second degree to show employers. It makes sense to build on what you already have, and a course that is tangential to your original degree will allow you to stay in the same career.
This is often one of the most common reasons why people seek a second degree. As they grow older their financial commitments increase. They get families, buy homes, need to pay for education for their children, or they want to invest for retirement.
Whatever the reason, one way to get a bigger paycheck is to show employers that you are a qualified individual who has up-to-date skills for your job. It is easier to ask for a pay rise when you can show additional qualifications.
Gain up-to-date skills
Many professions are evolving rapidly, and a degree that was relevant ten years ago may not be today. Someone who earned a degree in computer engineering a decade ago may find it hard to keep up with current technologies without additional education. Rather than take short courses to fill skill gaps, it makes sense to do a second degree that allows you to also move up the career ladder.
Ambition is a big driver for second degrees. For many, the itch to get a better job, earn a bigger paycheck, live in a bigger house, or even travel motivates them to add to their existing qualifications. For others, it is a matter of pride; they want to be able to stand alongside their peers with their heads held high.
It shows commitment to your profession
One way to show your employer that you are committed to your career and your company is to enroll in a second degree. Some companies appreciate this so much that they are willing to help employees pay for second degrees.
Second bachelor’s degree vs. master’s degree
Should you get a second bachelor’s degree, or should you study for a master’s? Both are viable options and what you choose depends on your career goals. Understanding the difference between the two will help you decide which degree will serve you better.
A second bachelor’s degree usually involves a new field of study. If you were an engineer, for example, and want to switch to a different profession, you should pursue a degree in another science field altogether. To get your foot in the door you need the basic skills that are imparted in a bachelor’s program.
A master’s degree is an advancement on a bachelor’s, and it imparts mastery in a field. Typically, students will take a master’s degree to build on their bachelor’s. Most master’s programs focus on practical application. With a master’s, you can expect advancement in your career and better financial prospects.
To decide which of the two is right for your career, you should think about what you want. Why do you want another degree? Do you want to change your career specialization altogether or build on what you already have?
If you want to change careers, a bachelor’s is the best option. If you want to build on existing knowledge, skills, and experience, you should enroll in a master’s program.
Your career goals can also come into play. Say, for example, you have a bachelor’s in engineering, and there is an opportunity for you to move up the career ladder by adding an IT qualification. Rather than taking a master’s engineering management online, it may be beneficial to enroll in a bachelor’s IT program and get the basic qualifications needed to fill the role.
Steps to get a second degree
Online master’s courses are not created the same. Whether you are thinking about enrolling in master’s engineering management online or any other second degree, there are certain steps to follow to ensure that you get a degree that will help advance your career.
- Think carefully about what degree offers the best advantages
It isn’t uncommon for students to choose the wrong degree only to drop out halfway when they realize it will not help them meet their goals. Before you enroll in any program consider whether it will give you the professional advantage you seek.
If you already have a bachelor’s in engineering, for example, a master’s engineering management online is a good option if you want to join management, but there are other courses you can consider. You can opt for a related discipline that keeps you within the same career but offers new and exciting opportunities.
- Evaluate institutions carefully
There is no shortage of online schools that offer master’s degrees for working professionals. You need to evaluate them carefully to ensure that you get a degree that will be recognized and respected by employers.
To know whether or not an online university is reputable, check if it is accredited by the Department of Education. If it is, it means that they are qualified to offer graduate degree programs and you may even be able to apply for funding.
However, accreditation isn’t always enough. It isn’t a perfect process, and some colleges fall through the cracks.
Ranking helps back up the accreditation of the institution. If it regularly gets highly ranked regionally or nationally and has been around for a long time, it is likely to be a reputable university for a second degree.
- Look into whether the institution accepts credits
You already have a degree, some continuing education and life experience. Do these exempt you from some of the modules that are offered in your course? The best universities allow students to transfer credits with ease so that they don’t waste time and money repeating modules that they did in the past.
- Consider your finances
Second degrees are not cheap, and if you have many financial commitments you may end up dropping out halfway. Can you afford, with all your other expenses, to pay for school until you graduate?
Talk to your employer about whether or not they can pay for tuition. Many are happy to so long as they know you will stay with the company. You can also investigate whether you qualify for a student loan and whether the university has special programs that assist mature students with finances.
To be enrolled for a graduate degree, most universities will need you to meet certain requirements. You may need to show a GPA threshold from your first degree, transcripts proving that you completed and passed the course, and you may be needed to prove that your second degree is different from your first one. Find out what the college demands so you avoid surprises during enrollment.
There are two types of support to expect from any good second-degree program. The first is technical. To complete a master’s engineering management online you need to have all the right infrastructure. You should be able to access the learning platform and complete and hand in assignments on time. Student support is also vital. It means that you have access to your teachers, and they are available to offer help when it is needed.
Help With Study offers additional tips for professional, adult learners, including how you can plan your finances to ensure you can pay for your course.
Tips to help get your second degree
The dropout rate for online learning is alarming. According to a report by Sage Open, between 40% and 80% of all students who enroll in online degree programs drop out. The reasons vary, but one of the most common is that they underestimate the amount of time and effort required to complete their degree.
You can increase your chances of successfully earning a second degree by ensuring you are well-prepared before you begin your course:
Create a support system
Get the people who matter on board before you get started. These include your family, your friends, colleagues, employers and even your neighbors. Letting them know that you are planning to go back to school helps manage their expectations. Explaining why you want to go back to school will foster support. If you inform them about your new schedule, they will be willing to step in and help when you are busy.
Make use of available help
A lot of universities provide free resources for mature students in a bid to reduce dropout rates. Take some time to explore what free resources are available to you and how they can help you complete your course easier and faster.
Join study groups
As soon as you are enrolled you should join one or two study groups and get to know other students who have the same goals. Not only does it keep you motivated to know that you are not alone, but they also serve as accountability partners.
Draft a schedule and stick to it
One of the most common reasons why students drop out of second degrees is poor time management. They find it impossible to juggle work, family, and classes, and it is the classes that usually bear the brunt.
Before you enroll in a master’s in engineering, think about how you spend your time and what activities you can drop to accommodate learning.
Create a quiet area to study
Studying at home is not as easy as many people think. If you have a family they will be in your way, and you may not be able to concentrate on your classes. Find a quiet place where you can attend classes and complete assignments without distractions.
Organize your study materials
You will need files, textbooks, notebooks, pens, paper, a computer, and headphones. Get these things before you start your classes so that you have everything at hand.
Keep your goal in sight
Remember taking a second degree is not the easiest thing to do, but it can be done if you always keep your goal in sight. Think about the new job you’ll get, the additional pay and benefits and even opportunities to travel and meet new people.
A second degree, such as a master’s engineering management, is a great way to bring a much-needed change in your career. You can fast-track your studies with e-learning, but you shouldn’t choose the first online college you come across. Look for an accredited university that ranks well and offers the necessary support to help students attain their goals.