The benefits of earning a graduate degree reach far beyond landing the obvious jobs associated with the degree. Just because you earned your degree in one area doesn’t mean you are bound to the list of jobs that typically follow graduation. Sure, the skills that are earned through completing graduate school are in some ways specific to the subject area studied, but there are many skills that can be applied to a variety of different jobs in a diverse array of industries. These days, you cannot afford to limit yourself in any way when it comes to how you choose to use the degree you worked so hard to earn.
The key is this: every graduate program provides skills you can take with you into any career. You may, in fact, decide that earning a degree in one field will help you pursue a career in another.
I Can Do What with my Graduate Degree?
The skills and knowledge gained by graduate students can be transferrable or transportable, depending upon the circumstances. For example, those with a graduate degree in education are traditionally expected to become teachers, but you may be surprised how many other careers in which graduate education degree-holders can flourish. Someone with a graduate degree in education could easily apply skill and knowledge to a career in human resources and even business management.
Business management with an education degree? Absolutely. Think about it. Those who earn a graduate education degree are well-equipped with skills like organization, leadership and communication, which are also integral to successful careers in business. To be an effective business professional, you have to be able to manage people, and that is one of the things that those in education do best—which is why a person with a graduate education degree may also make a terrific human resources executive. After all, those with a masters or PhD degree in education know how to design training exercises and communicate with individuals and groups, and if they can handle a classroom, they can definitely handle conflict management.
In the case of the graduate education degree-holder working in business management above, the person has “transferrable” professional skills— professional skills that are related to those in other jobs and industries. In other words, the education degree equipped the person with skills he or she can tweak to fit the skill requirements of a job in business management. This person must look at the skills through different eyes and use them to suit the new industry he or she has entered.
In the case of the graduate education degree-holder working in human resources above, the person has “transportable” professional skills—professional skills that can be completely moved into a different context. In other words, the education degree equipped the person with skills that he or she can directly apply to a job in human resources. This person can use the same skills learned in his or her graduate program, but use them in a different capacity.
Skills for all Careers
There are certain skills that are of use in nearly any profession and that are enhanced greatly by a graduate school program. Some of the professional skills that translate well into a variety of careers and industries include:
- Strategic Thinking
As you can see, the skills listed above are rather general. But once they have been cultivated and enhanced through the completion of a graduate program, they become professional skills that can be applied to a plethora of different careers. These skill sets give students more of a choice when it comes to deciding on a career or industry in which to invest their talents.
The ability to sell your specific skill set is an essential part of utilizing transferrable and transportable skills and graduate degrees. In order to do so, you need to be able to be a little creative, as the goal is to fit your skill set into the context of several different career choices. Students from other countries are way ahead of Americans in this method—they have been thinking about transferrable and transportable skills and degrees for years, as they have aspired to land jobs overseas, particularly in the United States.
With the globalization of the economy, students in the United States are being forced to catch up with their foreign counterparts when it comes to marketing their skills and degrees to a number of different industries. This brings to mind how important and universally-applied foreign language skills have become. Students with foreign language skills have many doors open to them, from careers with corporations to careers in schools, from jobs with the government to jobs in international business.
The Flexibility of MBA and Technology Degrees
Foreign language skills are now among the most universally sought after in all of graduate education, but business and marketing skills are very much transferrable and transportable as well. An MBA degree is one of the easiest degrees to apply across the board in the global marketplace, and a graduate degree in a technology field can be just as valuable. The United States has a major shortage of qualified technology professionals—so much so that the country has been forced to import technology professionals with graduate degrees from countries such as India.
If you take a look at the universal skills listed above, you’ll find that many, if not all of the skills, pertain to careers in business administration and technology. The preparation students receive in MBA and technology graduate programs are valuable in any number of industries and can be converted into many careers. Some industries in which these degrees can flourish include healthcare, education, social services, government, communications and security.
The global marketplace, as well as the one confined to the United States, is complex, ever-evolving and knowledge-based. Just as easily as someone with an MBA can become a CEO of a multinational corporation, another person with an MBA can enter a career in Hollywood, managing a production company or even a mega-star.
The possibilities that come along with a graduate degree do have some parameters, but none so limiting as the degree-holder’s imagination and drive. Many people, particularly in the United States, have yet to realize the many ways in which the knowledge and skills they gain from a graduate degree can be transferred or transported to work effectively in areas they never imagined. Regardless of your intended career, choose the degree program that most interests you, as the one you enjoy the most is the one you’ll get the most out of.
You can use the GradSchools.com directory to find the program that works best for you.