Work is the refuge of people who have nothing better to do. : Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What Masters Degree Should I Do?

A Canadian guy asked this a few days ago on LinkedIn. Ignoring the fact that there are momentary blips in the labour market, that some important categories of jobs are not advertised on the web site to be considered here, and that there are definitely trends to be aware of, one way of considering a question like this is to study a snapshot of the jobs advertised on a job site such as Although this would be quite tedious and time consuming to do using just a browser it is fairly straightforward using any of a number of computer scripting languages. When I did it a few days ago I looked for jobs that mentioned

  • masters
  • master's or
  • masters'.
and then dug out the lines from the ads that mentioned these words. I subsequently discarded jobs that were not intended for people with master's degrees and otherwise pared down the entries for each job so that there were just two lines per job, one for the title of the job and one containing the entire line mentioning the degree information. About 385 jobs remained. This isn't to say that all required a master's degree and only a master's. Some required a minimum of a bachelor's or a minimum of a master's.

What I am doing is really the kind of work that should be tackled using some of the software libraries for natural language processing and other more advanced analysis. However, as a preliminary look I have simply eliminated many insignificant words (so-called stopwords such as 'a', 'excellent' and 'previous') and counted the occurrences of the remaining words in the two-line records. Here are the top results.

121 engineering
98 manager
86 science
77 business
57 computer
50 engineer
46 software
43 management, administration
37 tax
35 accounting
32 project
30 health
28 mba
27 development, analyst
25 education, electrical
24 director, professional, sales
21 environment, services, communication
20 design, corporate
18 technical, analytical
17 finance, research
16 environmental, marketing, clinical
15 industry
14 information, including, supplemented, financial, planning, engineers, bc
13 social, human, organizational
12 developer, geotechnical
11 public, systems, architect, civil

Caution: I wouldn't invest much money or time on the basis of this set of results alone. However, it is apparent that there is a lot of interest in people with advanced degrees in engineering, science, accounting, health and business administration. Although, in my opinion, one is best to follow one's own interests and abilities this is a partial answer to the question posed on LinkedIn.


Daryl Close said...

A good point is made here. Many of us assume a masters degree is necessary to further a career without undertaking the research to confirm the fact. Before deciding on what masters degree make sure you actually need one by speaking with the college, employers and those in the profession.

Bill Bell said...

Daryl, I'm thrilled that that fact of life should be coming through. - Bill