Top 6 Reasons You Should do a Postgrad

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Roughly 40% of graduates continue their education with a postgrad. Students enrol in fourth level after spending three or four years grafting hard in order to gain a degree. So why don’t graduates move straight into the labour market? Aside from the obvious lack of jobs out there – although there are distinct signs that graduate recruitment is stabilising, here are some reasons and motivations for pursuing postgraduate study or research.

1. You have to…

Second level teacher, physiotherapist, doctor, accountant, engineer, scientific researcher, social worker and architect are only a sample of the professions for which postgraduate study is a usual requirement. Increases in technology and specialisation within the Irish economy mean that postgraduate qualifications in engineering, business and science subjects are increasingly necessary; even for entry-level positions. However, in some career areas, workplace experience and practical skills can be equally valuable to employers, so students should check in advance to find out exactly how useful a postgraduate qualification will be. Useful sources of information include your college’s career guidance officer, lecturers, and current professionals in your preferred career.

2. To get a better job (and make more money)

The HEA (Higher Education Authority) statistics show that, on average, people with postgraduate qualifications have higher employment rates and starting salaries than those with only primary degrees. In particularly competitive career areas, or when applying for managerial positions, a postgraduate qualification can help a candidate to stand out from the crowd. A postgraduate degree can also help an employee to accelerate up through the ranks of their company at a faster rate. Besides providing a good all-round education, postgraduate courses enable students to specialise in a particular area of the labour market where the most lucrative and challenging roles are to be found. Bear in mind however, that employers are under no legal obligation to pay a higher salary to those with a postgraduate qualification.

3. Passion

For some, the love of learning and a particular topic that captures their heart is motivation enough to undertake a postgraduate course. Generally, but not exclusively, attracted to courses in the arts & humanities, these learners want to explore their favourite author, language or period in history to the fullest possible extent. Positive outcomes in terms of a career should always be explored – no matter what your subject matter there will be a sector of the economy with a use for your talents and heightened ability to think critically. For instance, a career in academia might beckon if the research undertaken is of an extremely high quality. For learners driven by this motivation however, the thrill of discovery is the real reward.

4. The soft skills

Many recruiters value the soft skills gained during a postgraduate course just as highly as the actual knowledge obtained. Postgraduate students have much more individual responsibility over their course work or research, and employers value this added maturity. Examples of these skills include working in teams, giving presentations, problem solving, and managing projects. A postgraduate course can also be a fertile networking place, where students meet people who will prove useful as their career develops, including classmates, lecturers and industry contacts. Getting involved with college societies and extra-curricular activities can also be beneficial. An increasing number of fourth level courses also include a work placement or internship. Work experience adds considerably to graduate’s soft skillset, while also greatly increasing their employability.

5. To finally get that promotion

Undertaking a part-time postgraduate course that is related to the student’s career is an increasingly popular move. Professional performance is improved, thus strengthening job security and the prospect of promotion. A postgraduate course will impart the latest techniques and technologies in your industry, and the network of links formed with peers in your class can be a valuable source of business and learning opportunities. For a lucky few there is also the added attraction of being sponsored by an employer.

6. To change careers

Many graduates return to education to change their career direction, because of redundancy or they have simply fallen out of love with their current profession. Most colleges say that a primary degree in a relevant subject is required for entry onto a postgraduate course; however, ‘relevant’ can be loosely defined, especially in broad humanities or science subjects. There are also many conversion courses available, which can offer vocational skills and training in subjects such as diverse as IT, medicine and accounting to graduates of any subject. People can take a whole year off to do a postgraduate course; or study part-time through classroom or distance learning while continuing to work. Changing career with a postgrad qualification is eminently possible, but serious dedication is needed and you should also be well aware of the financial implications of a full time course and the time pressures of a part time programme.

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