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Some master's degree programs offer a bigger "bang for your buck" than others. It's probably no surprise that landing a well-paying job after graduation could depend on what career field you choose. Right now, business, health care, and education seem to be leading the pack. There's something else you need to consider: whatever your specialty, the most successful master's degree graduates are likely to have a specific career in mind when entering the workforce. Maybe that's a promotion in your current field or making the switch to a new career path. Consider these degrees for a high return on your education investment.

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Show Potential Employers You Mean Business

In the business and financial sectors, nothing says success like a master's degree in business administration (MBA). It not only teaches you the advanced skills you need in today's competitive market, but it can give potential employers the confidence they need to hire you out of a sea of many. Even more important, obtaining an MBA can give you that shot of self-confidence you need to apply for those top-notch jobs. For highly competitive business and finance jobs, with all other things being equal, an MBA degree can put you at the top of the totem pole.

Online MBA degree programs can offer a real advantage, particularly since most MBA candidates must construct a study-schedule based around their working schedules. MBA specialties can include marketing, management, finance, or international business, to name a few.

Average annual salaries for some positions you might go after with an MBA are listed below, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for 2008:

Marketing Managers: $118,160
Sales Managers: $110,390
Financial Managers: $110,640

Shrink the Competition With a Master's Degree in Psychology

Job opportunities for counselors of all specialties are expected to grow by 21 percent, or "much faster than average" in the decade ending in 2016. A master's degree in social work (M.S.W.) has become the new standard for social workers, a career expected to see growth of 22 percent between 2006 and 2016.

Average salaries for psychology specialties include:

School Counselors: $53,540
Mental Health Counselors: $40,270
Social Workers: $48,180

Crunch the Numbers: An Online Master's Degree in Accounting Makes Sense

Accountants and auditors with a graduate degree have the best opportunities in today's market, reports the BLS. Changing financial regulations, complex laws, and business concerns about financial security make an advanced degree extremely advantageous for an accounting professional today.

Accounting is also a career on the rise; accountants and auditors can expect 18 percent job growth between 2006 and 2016. Analyze the numbers and you'll see this can be a wise career move.

Average annual salaries for some accounting-related fields:

Accountants and auditors: $65,840
Budget Analysts: $68,140
Economists: $90,830
Personal Financial Advisors: $92,970

Go to the Head of the Class With a Master's Degree in Education

Everyone's going back to school these days, and that's good news for education majors. Teachers and administrators in postsecondary education are expected to have excellent job opportunities as more and more people continue their educations past the high school level. A master's degree is usually a must for post-secondary teachers and administrators today, so crack open those books and start learning.

Average annual salaries include:

Education Administrators, Postsecondary: $92,920
Postsecondary teachers: $56,120

Do the Math on a Master's Degree

Now that you have some idea of the benefits of a master's degree, as well as some career-specific information, why not start planning for your future? Online education makes it simpler than ever to study from home, around your current schedule. Head back to school today and reap the benefits for years to come.

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