Is a Graduate Degree Worth It?

Is getting an advanced degree worth it? The author looks at some of the considerations as well as pros and cons.

Growing your career typically involves a mixture of climbing the career ladder and furthering your knowledge. However, for government employees, gaining an upper-hand in your career isn’t just a case of doing well in your job—you also need to earn a degree for certain positions.

As a result, you might be considering the option of returning to graduate school in order to enhance your career, but is it really worth the hard work involved and can it really give you an increased chance to succeed? Let’s find out.

Education Can Be Stressful in Addition to Your Job

In addition to your current role as a government employee, taking on full-time education can be perhaps the most stressful thing in your life aside from raising children. There are tight time constraints, responsibilities and a lot of effort is required to sustain both a full-time education and a government job. As a result, you might find yourself lacking the ability to balance both in addition to your everyday life. This can often result in mental fatigue, stress or even depression.

If you’ve been thinking about part-time education, then you need to realize that you won’t be able to earn your target degree as quickly as you could with full-time education. There is another option, however: online study. There are many different online education options that offer you both the convenience of studying at home and reduced costs. This can drastically reduce the amount of effort you need to put in to earn a fully-fledged degree to advance your career and it gives you more freedom to spend your time how you want.

Do note that online degrees are no more difficult or easier than their school counterparts. You still need to put in a lot of time to study, you need to take tests and examinations and you’re going to be putting in a lot of effort.

With so much stress being put on federal employees to improve their academic credentials, it’s almost becoming mandatory to rely on online services as opposed to traditional educational institutes. Since it’s cheaper and more convenient, you’re more likely to succeed if you’re able to study at your own pace. Luckily, as the demand increases so does the supply. It’s extremely easy to find a course to study on the internet and it’s even easier to register and start learning straight away. As more companies offer online courses for the subjects you need to advance in your federal career, the prices will continue to drop and you’ll be given more opportunities to grow your credentials.

Reducing the Costs of a Graduate Degree

Fortunately, in addition to studying online, it’s possible to get discounts from certain colleges if you’re a federal employee. If you plan on returning for career development opportunities, then certain educational institutes are more than happy to accommodate you by offering huge discounts on your tuition fees. These courses hope to attract new talent and hardworking individuals in order to progress their careers and give them the credentials they need to advance the ladder. You may even win a college scholarship to make the deal even better.

Many of these discounts only include the online portion of their courses, however. They are also limited to certain degree choices, but the majority of them will be related to your federal employment role in one way or another. Thankfully, studying online opens up many different opportunities that present when attending a physical school. You don’t need to live near the college, you don’t need to commute and everything can be done at your own pace. In many cases, you also don’t need to interview or write a personal statement in order to be accepted. This does come with some disadvantages, such as being disconnected with your fellow students and academic professionals, but you can still contact them via online means.

In short, if the cost is on your mind then you’ll be glad to know that many colleges actually encourage you to work towards a degree, hence the large discounts. If you’re a federal employee that wants to advance their career with improved academic credentials, then it’s important that you take advantage of these offers and make the most of your budget.

Is It Ultimately Worth Your Time?

The Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of federal employee benefits and pay in April which revealed that federal salaries are 3% higher on average than private sectors. Federal benefits are more generous by 47% and total compensation for federal employees is 17% above what you could receive from a private employer. However, that’s only if you have the right academic credentials and you’re far enough on the career ladder.

Federal employees that have lesser educations are actually paid even more than they are outside of the government. With just a high school diploma, a worker can expect to see up to 50% increase in their salary when working for the government as opposed to working with a private company. Those with a Bachelor’s degree are paid roughly 21% more, so you can see there’s generally a decrease in how much you could potentially earn.

Sadly, once you have enough education, the pay takes a hit. Those with professional degrees that took years of study and hard work are actually paid significantly less when working as a federal employee. This is because working for the government guarantees you a steady salary since you always have work. If you were to go private, then there’s a chance your company could fail or the company you work for goes bust.

The trade is ultimately job safety versus around 8% of your pay. If you’re willing to give up around 8% of your total wages for job security, then studying while you’re a federal employee can be a great choice. However, if you don’t think you’ll be able to stick with your studies and you already have a job working for the government, then you might be satisfied enough knowing that you’re being paid more than others who share your qualifications. So to answer the question “is it worth your time?” is really a matter of personal preference; job security versus less investment and effort.

About the Author

Jason Kay is a professional resume writer and regular contributor to, a professional federal resume service and repository of sample KSA statements.