career

If you want to boost your salary by $20k, here's what a careers expert says you should do.

Open Universities Australia
Thanks to our brand partner, Open Universities Australia

At the start of your career, almost anything seems possible. You face the road ahead expectantly, hoping it will be full of exciting twists and turns, promotions and opportunities for growth and satisfaction. And yet, a few years or – gulp – decades in, reality may have well and truly taken over.

To put it simply, you can feel stuck. You may have lost your motivation, your sense of direction or purpose. Maybe you feel stuck on a certain pay level, or worry that your skills have hit a ceiling.

If you relate to this, then we’re going to let you in on a really interesting fact.

Did you know that having a postgraduate qualification can increase your annual salary by an average of almost $20,000? Research in the recent 2018 Graduate Outcomes Survey National Report shows that the median salary for postgraduates in 2018 was $83,300, compared to $61,000 for Bachelor degree graduates.

As the fast pace of technology changes the job market, having an “edge” has become more important than ever. According to the World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs 2018 report, some jobs are seeing a decline in demand, like lawyers, financial analysts and payroll clerks, while others are blossoming with new roles in areas like training and development, data analysis, digital marketing and information technology services.

So it’s never been a better time to consider what postgraduate study can do to give you that “edge”, and see how it can fit easily into your life, whenever or wherever you feel like studying.

We spoke to Sydney-based psychologist and career expert Suzie Plush to find out more about what impact postgraduate qualifications have on career advancement, and the different ways you can make them work for you with flexible options available through Open Universities Australia .

Suzie Plush. Image: Supplied.

What is postgraduate study, and who is eligible to do it?

Postgraduate study refers to a higher level of education, compared to undergraduate study. It’s generally about advancing your knowledge and developing specialist skills in your chosen area.

To do postgraduate study you don’t necessarily need a bachelors degree – depending on the industry you work in, your work experience or other related study may be recognised as prior learning.

How is postgraduate study structured?

It depends on where you study, but there are normally three types of postgraduate degrees: graduate certificates, which can usually be done in six months, graduate diplomas, which can be done in 12 months, and Masters, which can be done in 12 months to two years.

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Through studying online with OUA, for example, you can enrol in a single subject online from a postgraduate degree from an Australian university.

That kind of flexibility means you can chip away at an area of interest on a timeline that suits you. So postgraduate study can be quite flexible and tailored to where you’re at, and what you want to achieve.

What impact can a postgraduate qualification have on your career?

Because postgraduate study is about advanced knowledge and specialist skills, it can be a great way to get a promotion or a higher-level job.

You might be developing skills in leadership, management, operations, strategy; the kinds of advanced levels of thinking that are quite sought-after skills by employers, especially in today’s highly competitive job market.

Further study can also enhance your own personal brand and help you to stand out.

What are some examples of industries where a postgraduate qualification can really make a difference?

Take nursing – you might want to tailor postgraduate studies so that you have more specialist knowledge in a particular area such as surgery, risk management or operations.

In the field of education, it might mean developing your leadership, management, or policy development and implementation skills to further your career.

In the construction industry, even taking on single subjects such as sustainability or ethics might give you an edge or keep you on top of the industry trends and current research.

But really in any industry – especially if your qualifications were done years ago – postgraduate studies are a great way to ensure you are up to date in your industry and set yourself up for career progression.

What kind of feedback to do you get from people who have studied postgraduate courses?

I often hear things like “I am just loving studying again!”

People enjoy being able to really use their brain again, to be challenged; to be introduced to new ways of thinking.

Especially if it’s an area that you enjoy, studying again can be invigorating. It can ignite energy and passion, especially if things have been getting a bit stale in your career.

Finally, what’s your best advice for anyone frustrated with their career direction?

For anyone who’s feeling stuck in their career, I have two pieces of advice.

To progress your career, and to enjoy it more you need to commit to being a continuous learner. That way you will always be adding value, building your personal brand, networking and re-skilling. Don’t get stagnant – get more clarity.

My second piece of advice is, don’t wait! Take steps in the direction you want to head, even if they’re small ones.

Thanks, Suzie!

If you need some inspiration, OUA is a great way to make your next move. OUA gives you online access to leading universities across Australia whether it's your first time studying, you're upskilling or you're looking to change your lifestyle completely.

To start exploring degrees and flexible options for you, visit open.edu.au or phone 13 67 36.

Open Universities Australia

Open Universities Australia has helped more than 400,000 students study online with leading Australian universities, without putting their lives on hold. Explore your options at open.edu.au or call a friendly student advisor on 13 OPEN.

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