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marshalgivens t1_j9qeq6t wrote

Assuming this is true it could be because younger/early career people are more likely to have masters and also have lower salaries because they have less experience.

Edit: I was skeptical of ZipRecruiter's numbers so I just did a quick tabulation of the 2021 ACS. In DC (among people with any earnings) people earned an average of $94,000 in salary/wages, and people with master's degrees earned $116,000.

If you want to check my work I used the online data analyzer tool at I calculated means with dependent variable incwage, row variable educd, and filters year(2021), statefip(11), incwage(1-999998)


InevitableCloud t1_j9qflzg wrote

Yeah anecdotal too but like… there sure do seem to be a lot of 24 year old- ish folks with masters at their first job around dc, which isn’t gonna pay a lot cause they have no experience… five years from now, if not in the nonprofit sector, it will raise to above the average.


jj3449 t1_j9rgqjw wrote

I think you will see a bunch of teachers pulling down the average also since these five year masters programs have become pretty normal.


SteampunkShogun t1_j9qmxbh wrote

Well, this makes me feel a bit inadequate lol. I'm definitely on the younger side (27) and only have a bach and a cert, but I'm making a bit over $60k.... which is obviously quite below the mean of $94k for individual earners.


MishimaWasRight t1_j9qxe1f wrote

If it makes you feel better I’m 26 with a Masters at a prestigious organization and I make $46,900


rlpw t1_j9r30wj wrote

Cries in PhD 😭😭😭


CrossplayQuentin t1_j9rbv4l wrote

Preach. I have a PhD in arguably the most in-demand field of my branch, and after 6 years at Georgetown I'm barely cracking 60k.


NoIdeaHalp t1_j9s8yi1 wrote

Seriously? Are you full time or an adjunct?


CrossplayQuentin t1_j9tj62l wrote

Full time baby. 😭


NoIdeaHalp t1_j9tzslf wrote

I’d wager they’re underpaying you. Boo.


CrossplayQuentin t1_j9tzw4k wrote

Oh 100%. I'm working on getting out.


NoIdeaHalp t1_j9vfoqk wrote

What’s plan B once you get out considering you have a doctorate. Genuinely curious.


CrossplayQuentin t1_j9vge4b wrote

Doing the same thing somewhere else. Salary compression means that just by moving institutions I can probably get a pretty good bump. I could do even better by going into Ed tech or corporate writing gigs but unfortunately I actually like teaching college.


ehenning1537 t1_j9uu3w2 wrote

Yeah, I bartend 4 nights a week and I really shouldn’t be out-earning you guys.


rlpw t1_j9s0b4z wrote

Sigh all the feds and military folks getting the DLS degree at SCS to advance/promote. Georgetown has a few other PhD and masters tracks that don’t require extensive research for folks in gov/mil.


Kief- t1_j9sdqtz wrote

PhDs (especially quant or STEM) are not appropriate comparisons to masters or average salary in DC. Those who want tenure-track professor positions choose to accept low compensation (~90-110k). But they have industry jobs as an outside option if and whenever they want to leave. The current market rate for PhDs with no work experience is 200-250k and many employers offer 6-figure signing bonuses in finance, consulting, pharma, tech (well, maybe not tech at the moment). Government pay is somewhere in between, and those positions generally start at GS-13. If you want to become a professor money probably isn’t the reason you got a PhD anyway.


FennelSuperb7633 t1_j9tl5d7 wrote

That’s not necessarily true. Business school professors make a ton of money. I don’t know about STEM fields. I would bet a starting salary for a tenure-track political science professor is $120K+ in DC, not bad either.


Kief- t1_j9tpe6w wrote

Of course, I’m sure 120k+ AP starting positions exist. I didn’t say AP positions are strictly in the 90-110k range. That’s the ballpark and you can find observation points above and below that range.

My point was that PhDs often choose a lower comp even when outside option is available, which is a different situation from master’s. E.g. Business professors with 180k+ salary can find higher paying positions in industry if they wanted to leave academia. So wouldn’t you agree masters vs PhD salaries are not comparable because of the selection bias?


Medievalismist t1_j9ucp7c wrote

Humanities PhD over here screaming into a bag.


rlpw t1_j9urs5w wrote

My PhD is in a social science. I knew what the prospects were going in sorta. I say sorta because the choice to get a PhD wasn’t entirely based on the job market - it was based on actual interest and I knew I wasn’t going to be paying for it. But it’s still a bit disappointing when going about looking for work or seeing these salaries.

I saw a few positions targeting just masters level experience and explicitly stated they won’t hire a PhD. At the same time I saw phds hiding their phds to get work. 😩


Medievalismist t1_j9uzpf9 wrote

I graduated the year after the 2008 crisis. When I went in to the PhD there was still the fantasy that if you did well and worked hard, you could get an academic job. Not only did that evaporate, but they kept evaporating with fewer and fewer and fewer every year since.

Feeling the same as you, where a PhD is either a curiosity that nobody cares about, or is seen as an active hindrance to getting a job. I hate it so much.


rlpw t1_j9v4py1 wrote

The commenter above mentioned STEM PhD industry salaries are like 200k. Perhaps specific stem fields although most folks don’t consider social science a stem field despite science being in the name. Also the titles of positions can be confusing and arbitrary - ie a “research associate” for some organizations require a PhD while others require at least a bachelors.


resdivinae t1_j9qehpc wrote

Anecdotal, but I've noticed a lot of recent MA grads go into the non-profit sector, which is not exactly lucrative work.


BigLeagueBanker69 t1_j9qwrsx wrote

I think you're on to something. I feel like a lot of people I know with Masters degrees in DC studied liberal arts and now work in academia, or like you said, non-profit or even government.

Those that work in Law/Medicine typically have beyond a masters degree and many that work in finance/STEM don't need any degree beyond a bachelors to get high-paying finance/tech/engineering jobs. Would actually make a lot of sense to me if most Masters degree were more intellectual/academic pursuits and less so about "Hey I just need to crank out this degree really quickly so I can be a _____ and make $250K/year"


HighestIQInFresno t1_j9tzh4l wrote

I've seen this too, though I've also found more preferential hiring of recent MA grads without work experience in the non-profit sector than in profit where work experience is more highly valued. This is especially true for MA's in liberal arts and soft social sciences fields who may not have more highly valued quantitative or business skills.


walkallover1991 t1_j9qpbss wrote

I would believe it.

I know people who have PhDs that aren't even hitting 70k in the non-profit sector.


rlpw t1_j9r34y9 wrote

Cries in PhD 😭😭😭


new_account_5009 t1_j9qg5cm wrote

Assuming the data is correct (a big assumption), there are a few potential drivers for this.

First, you're likely dealing with a mixture of fields. For instance, I believe you're required to get a master's degree to teach in a lot of local jurisdictions, but teaching doesn't pay well. If the population of masters degree holders includes a lot of teachers, that would bring the average down. That's going to be true for a lot of fields with well educated people working low paying jobs in the public sector or at nonprofits. In contrast, many high paying jobs in fields like computer science or finance only require bachelor's degrees.

Second, people sometimes stay in school because they can't find a job immediately after undergrad. Around 2008-2012 or so, that was fairly common as a tactic to wait out the recession. It's possible that the candidates that got jobs immediately out of school interviewed better than their counterparts that stayed in school, and it's also possible that they're getting paid more now as a direct result of that.

Third, masters degrees mean less job experience. If you look at two identical 30 year olds, the person with the masters degree will have less real world experience because they were in school longer, so that may imply a lower salary.

If you control for the various factors above, you might get the more typical relationship with more education implying more pay, but it's possible that we have multiple confounding factors at play.


jdeeebs OP t1_j9qhvv2 wrote

I feel that it's most likely people in the tech sector without masters inflating the average salary


BigLeagueBanker69 t1_j9qx56p wrote

Tech, engineering, finance, consulting, etc. all pay highly without requiring advanced degrees. Then you have law/medicine which also pay highly but require Doctorate level degrees. I don't think most people getting Masters degrees are doing it with the same intention as Law School kids or Finance undergrads where it's like "Okay literally all I have to do is earn this degree and I can easily make $250K for the rest of my life". I think most Masters degrees are more intellectual/academic pursuits with marginal compensation/professional development components.


hms_poopsock t1_j9rn7z2 wrote

I imagine there are tons of people with masters degrees that move here for a couple of years to work for nonprofits or the govt or whatever... then go on to earn $$$$.


rlpw t1_j9s0sfb wrote

Having recently been in the job market, many fed jobs require a specific number of years doing XYZ. So the nonprofits are a good stepping stone to get the required experience and then move on to a fed job with more security.


jldc33 t1_j9s6vso wrote

This was my experience at a nonprofit. I'm in IT but was surprised at first when I heard that our policy interns had master's degrees. They make connections and go on to more prestigious positions.


DCTom t1_j9s0cqp wrote

I believe it; there are many, many well-paid lawyers in DC. A JD is not a masters degree. Many masters degree recipients go into public policy fields, etc, which are not well-paid.


fronthacker t1_j9t1nje wrote

Guess they didn't teach how the world works in that masters program!


ibeerianhamhock t1_j9qsah3 wrote

You make more within the same field often times with an advanced degree but a lot of things (business owner, engineer, etc) don’t really require advanced degrees and can often times pay extremely well.

Like take tech. If you’re a good software engineer and you don’t work in research, having a graduate degree is kinda pointless. You’re not going to be a better engineer for it. Yet you can make a lot of money with just a bachelors and sometimes not even a degree. It’s all contextual.


Bowtie_Bob t1_j9tbpbu wrote

Can the data explain the usefulness of the degree? Or, the industry the person works in? Or, the applicability of the the persons degree in the industry?

Lots of useless fluffy degrees out there. I’d be interested to know what you find.


Appropriate-Ad-4148 t1_j9ti3t7 wrote

Tons of people in their 20's and 30's subsidized by old money working in sectors that don't pay a lot. You'd take that 49k salary if your dad was paying for your rent, phone and car too.


Romerussia1234 t1_j9qh9u6 wrote

When you make literally the average salary.


Tammie621 t1_j9qlxty wrote

Not a surprise. While an increase in education usually has a direct correlation with a higher salary, it’s all about supply and demand. DC needs skilled labor and jobs with clearances (which doesn’t always need a graduate degree). There isn’t much demand for master degree jobs in this area. Plus there is plenty of supply of those who have them here.


AdRepresentative1910 t1_j9r5vkg wrote

Just a guess, but a lot of high earners work in tech, and masters degrees aren’t really needed for most positions in tech.


Life_Carpet_1358 t1_j9tl7xu wrote

Hmm i guess it just depends, I’m 25 with a masters and make $117k (government)


jdeeebs OP t1_j9tma7o wrote

Yeah, I literally just graduated from my masters (I'm 23) and making $137k (government, also) so I guess it just depends


daveed4445 t1_j9tqm35 wrote

People like me who got their first job ever and did a Masters 4+1 right out of undergrad. My first real job pays $70k with no experience


Technicolor_Reindeer t1_j9u71l4 wrote

I had a masters and started kinda low too, I made more than that soon with a few years work exprience.


lmboyer04 t1_j9ufl7g wrote

Easy explanation. Money follows neither effort nor knowledge. It’s not “fair” but it’s just how the market works


Literwit t1_j9uzspg wrote

Considering government is one of the biggest employers and values experience over education, you can have someone with an Associate’s degree who works their way up over time to a high GS level with good salary. LOTS of government jobs without degree requirements where one can raise to high levels over time and with non-degree training.


gerri001 t1_j9vyj12 wrote

DC is home to the social science MAs so they’re not making what an MS would make.