Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated December 2012
No one would argue earning a graduate degree is one of the best ways to ensure a good salary and professional satisfaction through a career in a field you enjoy. But it is not the only route to those goals, and there are some occasions when post-graduate work is important as well.
In fact, sometimes continuing your education even after you have earned a masters or a doctorate degree is necessary to move into the specific field in which you desire to work.
Mandatory continuing education
No matter what field you're working in, there are often continuing education requirements you have to meet if you want to keep your professional license or make sure you are working at the top of your game. Continuing education, in fact, is common to more fields than you might imagine.
Professions requiring licensing, like teaching and medicine, almost universally require licensees accrue a specific number of continuing ed credits each year. This is the one major way to ensure everyone is up to date on the latest issues affecting their field of work. And even fields that do not necessarily require continuing education often place a high level of importance on it.
Any sort of medical or dental specialty will require you to engage in post-grad work in order to hone your skills. While your time in medical or dental school will give you overall expertise in the field, you will have to go for special training in order to work in cardiology or periodontology. The skills relevant to those fields are just too specific to be adequately covered in the more generalized programs graduate schooling provides.
It's true many doctors or dentists in general practices make excellent livings and experience a high level of job satisfaction without needing the extra training, but in order to perform more specific tasks professionally, a further level of schooling is required.
When you consider continuing your education, keep in mind post-graduate work is not quite like work was in graduate school. For while there is a good deal of studying, much of the class work is likely to either happen in situ-while you are on the job-or in seminars, during which time all of the professors and students will have a chance to work through the issues they have encountered as a group. So though it may seem daunting to go through yet another level of education, it is not really like any other educational experience you've had before. And that makes it easier and more exciting.
College was all about learning the basics of your specific field, and about accruing a required base knowledge in order to have some sort of a jumping-off point for your career. Graduate school was about learning as much as you could about a specific area of study in order to gain a sense of expertise. Post-graduate programs are often about the practical sides of your field.
Many law school graduates find themselves in programs that will make them better lawyers, and afford them the opportunity to increase the breadth of their specific area of knowledge. Some lawyers earn an MBA in order to make them better corporate lawyers, and some get degrees in biology in order to better represent their biotech clients.
No matter how long you have been practicing in your field, it is always wise to keep your eyes open for further educational possibilities that could potentially make you better and more valuable at your job.
The truth is this: If you are serious about being the best you can be in your specific field, and if you want to make sure you are as capable as possible, then graduate school will not be the end of your education. Rather, it will merely be the end of one specific kind of education. But the learning never stops. And that's a benefit to everyone.