The 13 Fastest-Growing Jobs That Require a Master’s Degree
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Editor & Writer
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More and more job openings require candidates to hold a master's degree, and more people are choosing to stay in or go back to school as a result.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people 25 and older whose highest degree is a master's doubled from 2000 to 2018, up to 21 million people.
For many professional occupations, holding a master's degree can result in a higher annual income. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the median annual salary for professionals with a master's degree is around $13,000 more than that of bachelor's degree-holders.
If you want to earn a graduate degree but aren't sure which career path to take, check out our list below of the top 13 jobs that require a master's degree.
Popular Online Master's Degrees
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
1. Marriage and Family Therapist
- Job Growth Rate (2020-30): 16%
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $49,880
- Educational Requirements: Master's degree in psychology, marriage and family therapy, or a related field; internship/residency and state licensure are also required
Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families to help them manage issues stemming from relationships. Through cognitive behavioral therapy and goal-oriented approaches, these therapists help clients process difficult thoughts and emotions, showing them how to replace negative feelings with positive, life-enhancing ones.
These professionals work in a variety of clinical settings, including mental health centers, substance misuse treatment centers, and hospitals. Many marriage and family therapists also work in private practices and employee assistance programs.
2. Occupational Therapist
- Job Growth Rate (2020-30): 17%
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $85,570
- Educational Requirements: Master's degree in occupational therapy; licensure is also required
Occupational therapists help patients with injuries, illnesses, and disabilities manage the activities associated with everyday life. These therapists may work with people of all ages and backgrounds or they may specialize in helping specific populations.
Basic tasks include developing individual exercise programs for patients and educating patients on the use of specialized therapeutic equipment.
- Job Growth Rate (2020-30): 18%
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $75,440
- Educational Requirements: Master's degree in orthotics and prosthetics; a one-year residency and certification are also required
Orthotists and prosthetists help fit patients with orthopedic supportive devices, such as braces and splints, in order to assist with mobility issues and/or relieve discomfort. Common conditions that may require the attention of an orthotist or prosthetist include cerebral palsy, arthritis, stroke, spina bifida, and scoliosis.
These healthcare professionals generally work in coordination with a patient's orthopedic surgeon and primary care doctor to develop a treatment plan.
- Job Growth Rate (2020-30): 22%
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $60,110
- Educational Requirements: Master's degree in history, art history, museum studies, or archaeology
Curators often work in museums, government institutions, and educational service settings, where they oversee collections of valuable artwork and historical items. Duties include acquiring, preserving, and storing historical documents and objects.
These professionals may also perform administrative tasks and help manage their institution's research projects, educational programs, and public events.
5. Computer and Information Research Scientist
- Job Growth Rate (2020-30): 22%
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $131,490
- Educational Requirements: Master's degree in computer science, computer engineering, or a related field
Computer and information research scientists create and design uses for new and existing computing technology, such as artificial intelligence and robotics. Many of these professionals also work to improve the way data is managed or displayed.
Computer and information research scientists work in a variety of industries, including software publishing, engineering, design, and higher education.
6. Genetic Counselor
- Job Growth Rate (2020-30): 26%
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $80,150
- Educational Requirements: Master's degree in genetics or genetic counseling; board certification is also required (licensure may be required depending on state)
Genetic counseling is an emerging field that helps people determine how they may be affected by genetic conditions. Genetic counselors screen people for their genetic risk of developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and blood disorders, among other conditions.
For parents expecting children, these counselors can also identify genetic conditions that could affect the baby during infancy.
7. Speech-Language Pathologist
- Job Growth Rate (2020-30): 29%
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $79,060
- Educational Requirements: Master's degree in speech-language pathology; licensure, certification, or registration may also be required depending on state
Speech-language pathologists work with children and adults to diagnose and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders. Such conditions may occur as a result of stroke, trauma, brain injury, hearing loss, developmental delay, autism, or other causes.
These professionals work in an array of clinical and educational settings, such as hospitals, private practices, rehabilitation facilities, and public and private schools.
- Job Growth Rate (2020-30): 30%
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $78,830
- Educational Requirements: Master's degree in public health or a related field
Known as "disease detectives," epidemiologists work in the public health sector to track the spread of disease and investigate its origin. The profession has recently gained greater public awareness due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as epidemiologists have been instrumental in responding to the outbreak.
Work may involve collecting data, conducting surveys, analyzing samples, developing preventative programs, identifying at-risk populations, and educating the public.
9. Physician Assistant
- Job Growth Rate (2020-30): 31%
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $121,530
- Educational Requirements: Physician assistant master's degree; licensure is also required
As medical professionals, physician assistants work in collaboration with or under the supervision of doctors in a variety of specialty and primary care areas.
Assistants may perform many of the same tasks as doctors, including diagnosing illnesses, conducting physical assessments, developing and managing treatment plans, ordering and interpreting tests, and prescribing medications.
- Job Growth Rate (2020-30): 35%
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $95,570
- Educational Requirements: Master's degree in mathematics or statistics
The work of statisticians typically entails designing surveys, studies, experiments, and polls to collect data related to a specific question or problem they're trying to solve. They then look for trends and relationships in this data to help inform decisions at their company or within their industry.
Statisticians work in many types of settings where thorough data analysis is valued, including education, government, healthcare, and research and development.
11. Nurse Practitioner
- Job Growth Rate (2020-30): 52%
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $120,680
- Educational Requirements: Master's degree in an advanced practice nursing field; state certification and/or licensure is also required
Nurse practitioners work in specialty and primary care settings, delivering advanced nursing services to patients and their families. These healthcare professionals usually care for a certain population, such as adults, senior citizens, children, or those with psychiatric and mental conditions.
Basic duties include assessing patients, determining how to improve or manage a patient's health, and integrating health promotion strategies into a patient's life.
12. School/Career Counselor
- Job Growth Rate (2020-30): 11%
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $60,510
- Educational Requirements: Master's degree in counseling, psychology, or a related field; state credential (license, certification, or endorsement) is also required
School and career counselors support students of all ages and working adults to help them achieve academic and professional success.
School counselors may work at elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, or colleges. These professionals support students' learning by offering advice, collaborating with teachers, and helping students overcome various social and academic barriers.
Career counselors can work with students and/or professionals. Their duties include helping clients develop realistic and attainable career goals, apply to jobs, and improve their job search and interviewing skills.
- Job Growth Rate (2020-30): 13%
- Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $105,630
- Educational Requirements: Master's degree in economics
Economists collect and analyze data related to the economy, such as how goods and services are produced and distributed. Responsibilities include researching economic issues and market trends, conducting surveys, offering advice to businesses, presenting research findings, and recommending potential solutions to economic issues.
Many economists work for the government to assist policymakers with spending and to provide insight into economic impacts from various laws and regulations.