Understanding the Return on Investment for Your Educational Degree
When considering your educational investments, it’s important to take a business-minded approach. Just like a business person would, you should analyze the potential return on investment for the money you spend on obtaining a graduate degree.
Although the field of education may seem far removed from corporate America, the same calculation applies. While many educators with just a Bachelor’s degree face underpayment, certain educational paths can help alleviate this issue.
Obtaining a doctorate degree is one such path. In this beginner’s guide, we will explore how you should view your graduate coursework as an investment.
Start by Calculating the Expenses
Regardless of potential raises and improved opportunities, understanding the cost and yield potential is crucial. The more you invest in your graduate degree, the lower your financial gains will be.
Here are some questions to guide your analysis:
- Will you need to take out a loan to pay for your tuition? Loans increase the overall cost of your education as they require you to make interest payments in the future. Think of it in the same way as a downpayment on a home. While a large downpayment reduces your current bank account balance, it saves you more than that eventually. The same principle applies to obtaining a graduate degree. Paying for some or all of it in cash significantly improves your degree’s return on investment (ROI).
- Does your school district provide financial assistance? Knowing whether your school district will contribute to your graduate school expenses is essential in determining the financial feasibility of pursuing a degree. Some districts offer partial or full tuition coverage for teachers.
- How will you leverage this degree? Graduate degrees in education can lead to administrative or university-level positions, often accompanied by higher salaries. However, it’s important to note that not all graduate school experiences result in a shift to administrative roles. If you plan to stay in the classroom, you may still receive a raise, but it won’t match the potential increase achieved through administration.
Keep in mind that the longer you have left in your career, the better your ROI will be. This is not to discourage older educators from pursuing further education. Clearly, those reading this guide understand that learning encompasses more than just profitability.
However, it remains a relevant consideration. If you are a twenty-something teacher debating graduate school, there are compelling reasons to take the leap sooner rather than later.
Benefiting from Pay Bumps
In most states, teachers receive annual raises known as “bumps” or “steps.” The longer you teach, the higher your salary becomes. While these increases may not be substantial, they provide a comfortable living as your career progresses.
Unlike corporate jobs, these steps are non-negotiable at an individual level. Teacher unions negotiate for raises and benefits, but these discussions occur slowly on a district-wide scale.
If you desire an independent salary increase, pursuing additional education is the only solution. Most districts offer raises for teachers who obtain a master’s degree and another raise for earning a PhD.
While these raises may not afford you a luxury lifestyle, they accumulate over time.
Enhancing Your Credentials
Achieving a PhD elevates your standing within the academic community. With this degree, you become more eligible to publish in academic journals and conduct research. Most universities require a doctorate for hiring teachers.
If your goal is to transition into higher education, obtaining a PhD becomes a critical and ultimately mandatory step.
Acquiring New Skills
Pursuing a PhD also allows for significant skill development. The information provided to aspiring teachers has likely evolved considerably since your university education a decade ago.
This doesn’t necessarily imply that the current information is superior or that you must entirely reinvent yourself as an educator after obtaining your doctorate. However, it does afford you the opportunity to learn, adapt, and grow.
Ultimately, this continuous growth represents the ongoing responsibility of educators everywhere. As a teacher, you should always seek opportunities to become a student yourself, regardless of financial rewards.
The Conceptual Difference
Viewing education through a business-focused lens poses a challenge due to the conceptual disparities between the two. A business thrives on growth, a notion largely absent in the field of education. As a teacher, your growth isn’t fueled by improving your bottom line; instead, it stems from a genuine concern for your students and a desire to provide them with the best possible instruction.
While most teachers who obtain their doctorate will eventually see a financial profit, it may not be enough to afford luxury items. Nevertheless, it positively impacts their overall financial situation.
Additionally, it is crucial to remember that regardless of potential monetary rewards or increased social perception, enhancing yourself as a teacher is always valuable. If you have an interest in pursuing a doctorate, don’t hesitate. Identify the most affordable path to achieve your goals, and leverage your new skills to enhance your students’ education.