Going back to school? These degrees have the biggest ROI

Making a jump from a bachelor's degree to a professional degree could net you a 95% increase in lifetime earnings.

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In an effort to increase their marketable skills or earning potential, many professionals head back to school to earn an advanced degree. New research from career site Zippia gives us a better idea what the potential ROI is for given degree types, and how they change lifetime earnings.

"On average, the ROI for every step in your educational journey is positive -- getting another degree will justify the cost over the course of your career," the report states. "Interestingly, there is no expiration date for advancing your education. The ROI is positive very late into your career, making going back to school a smart decision for almost everyone except lawyers and doctors."

Typically, a worker's earnings will rise through their mid-forties until it reaches a plateau; it will usually stay steady there until he or she retires, the report said. That is where additional education can come in.

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When average salaries are broken down by degree types, one clear trend sticks out: More education equals higher earning potential, the report said. However, the percentage increase in earning potential depends on what degree you start with and what degree you earn.

The highest jump happens when one goes from a bachelor's to a professional degree (e.g., lawyers). Folks in this camp see a 95% increase in earnings over their lifetime, which averages out to about $3.1 million, the report said.

For high school graduates who are considering college, it can be worth it, the report said--as long as you don't get heavily in debt. Making that jump can net you a 91.5% increase in earnings over a lifetime, worth about $1.5 million on average.

The most underrated shift someone can make is to get their GED if they never finished high school. "Finishing High School really helps your career earnings with a bigger percent increase than getting a masters after college," the report said.

While these figures can make professional degrees seem like a no-brainer, it's important to remember that these are averages and many individuals may fall outside of these statistics. To determine your own ROI, you must consider your age and the time you have to invest in school, the direct cost, inflation, and other aspects, the report said.

For more information on education ROIs, check out Zippia's calculator here.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Professionals with a bachelor's degree who earn a professional degree could see a 95% increase in lifetime earnings, close to $3.1 million. -- Zippia, 2018
  • Earning a college degree after high school is worth $1.5 million in additional lifetime earnings on average -- Zippia, 2018

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Image: iStockphoto/edella