25/02/2022

Computing Careers: 10 Reasons to Study a Postgraduate Degree

When it comes to getting noticed by top employers, there’s often the argument of education vs. experience. Which is better for your career path? Should you apply for jobs or stay on at university to develop more skills?

If you’re a third-year student at the University of Bolton, it’s important to consider the best route for personal and professional development. One of the best ways to stand out against competition is to develop advanced skills and knowledge.

While there are many benefits of going straight into the workplace, it’s not always possible to get your dream job in computing, even with a degree. Employers in industries such as technology are increasingly attracted to candidates with a second degree, and specialist skills are highly sought after.

We’ve been ranked in the Top 10 in the UK for Student Satisfaction in Computing Courses* for the second year running, and we have a student-first approach that means we put you, and your needs first.

For third-year computing students considering their options, here are 10 reasons to stay on at the University of Bolton:

1) Increase your earning potential

One of the top reasons to study a master’s degree is to boost your salary as soon as you leave education. Studies actually show that postgraduates earn, on average, 18% more than first degree holders, and this is possible just six months after they graduate from their master’s.

This makes postgraduate study a good return-on-investment, and this is certainly the case for highly technical career paths such as computing.

While many professionals get into entry-level jobs in computing with a first degree, there’s a growing need for mid-level professionals. Employers are increasingly looking towards graduates with a second degree so they can fill these positions or nurture talent more easily from entry-level positions.

2) The IT skills gap is at an all-time high  

Right now, the UK is facing a major shortage of digital talent, primarily in areas such as cyber security, Big Data analytics, and technical architects.

According to a recent report by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, there’s a shortfall of 10,000 people every year for specialisms like cyber security. Graduates with the right skills are in demand!

The report also reveals that businesses are struggling to find, train or retain workers in order to move forward in their digital transformation journey. If you’re a third-year computing student, staying on and studying a specialism could massively increase prospects, opening up a world of opportunities with some of the industry’s biggest employers.

On top of this, workforce expectations are shifting as millennials and Gen Z take over the global population. More and more workers (especially digital natives) want flexibility, remote or hybrid working, and autonomy. Mental health and wellbeing is a growing priority for professionals too, and employers are having to respond in order to retain employees.

But if you want the power to negotiate the best terms, make sure your CV is attractive to potential employers.

3) Develop specialist knowledge

Having specialist skills not only appeals to employees looking to fill the skills gap in their own workforce, but it can help you maximise your personal and professional development potential. And the best thing about a computing master’s is being able to gain access through any pathway.

Courses at the University of Bolton, such as MSc Cloud and Network Security, MSc Data Analytics and Technologies, and MSc Software Engineering, are open to all computing undergraduates. So if you’re studying BSc (Hons) Computing or any related degree, you can apply.

4) It can be easier to advance in your career

In addition to being able to earn more when you leave university, research suggests that second degree holders are faster in career progression. In fact, a master’s degree could mean a 20% higher chance of getting a senior position, or a role with higher levels of responsibility.

As more organisations focus on retention to reduce the cost burden of high staff turnover, having more education under your belt could make you the ideal candidate for company training programmes.

5) A second degree acts as a stepping stone

Having a second degree on your CV can often mean that you get seen by top employers, and it could mean that you are better placed for jobs where future career development is a priority for the company.

Not quite ready to leave education just yet? This can be a common concern for many third-year students who enjoy university life, and those who are still discovering themselves. University is more than a place of study, but a place to grow and develop as a person.

It’s a fantastic learning curve that can improve your interpersonal skills, enhance your empathy towards others, and arm you with all the practical and emotional skills required to live independently as an adult.

If you’re interested in advancing your skills before going into the workplace, postgraduate study gives you another chance to get the most out of your university experience.

It eases you into the working world too. Your relationship with your lecturer will become less formal, and you’ll be networking and putting your professional skills to practice in a safe environment, where you are still receiving support and guidance.

For many students, further study can help to smooth the transition from education to employment, helping you prepare for the corporate world, and the highs and lows that may come from a professional workplace.

6) Get a chance to network

As well as being a stepping stone into work, postgraduate study is an opportunity to grow your professional network. Master’s degree students are likely on their own specialist pathways, meaning that you’ll be mingling with the cyber security, data and engineering experts of the future.

You could end up working with, for, or alongside any of your fellow students in the years to come. And remember that this could be true in any capacity. Fast-forward five or 10 years and one of your fellow students could be a colleague, an employer, a partner, a technology supplier, or even a client.

While the IT industry is vast, in some ways it’s also very small. With a growing culture of cross-collaboration (where many brands and organisations work together), it pays to have connections. The goal is to build meaningful professional relationships, because collaborative strategies will be a major focus for companies.

7) You can work on your soft skills too

Another benefit of further study and being introduced to the world of networking is being able to practice your people skills. A report by the Higher Education Statistic Agency suggests that many computer science first degree holders don’t actually work in jobs related to their skills, and a lack of communication skills could be part of the problem. 

During your postgraduate training, you’ll have many opportunities to develop your soft skills. Navigating independent study means you’ll be in charge of forming your own relationships, and work experience modules will throw you into a professional environment where you’ll have to learn to collaborate effectively.

8) You’ll still have your support network 

By staying on at university, you won’t have to start all over again. One of the biggest stresses of going to university is having to get to know a new city, make new friends and familiarise yourself with the academic environment.

As a student at the University of Bolton, you will have established some roots and made connections on and off campus. You’ll also have the continued advice and guidance of course leaders, and you’ll know where to find the facilities, resources and support services you need.

9) Be surrounded by the best in class  

By staying on at university to study a master’s degree, you’ll be surrounding yourself with the very best in your field. Postgraduate students are the innovators, business leaders, movers and shakers of the future.

10) Practice lifelong learning

Continued professional development is something that benefits both employers and employees, and this is particularly relevant for computer sciences. Just looking at some of the technology giants in the world, it’s clear to see that lifelong learning is no longer optional, but an essential trait for future employees.

Mark Zuckerberg is famous for his personal learning theory, and Google actively seeks out what it calls “learning animals” during its recruitment rounds. While workers who invest time in continued learning and development get to expand career opportunities, companies are seeing more actively engaged employees, higher retention, and a skilled workforce that meets the needs of an evolving marketplace.

A master’s degree doesn’t just teach you practical skills for your chosen line of work. It actually teaches you to be passionate about learning, and to always seek out ways to improve.

As a leading Greater Manchester university with a student-centric approach and a passion for delivering #UniAsItShouldBe, there’s nowhere better to continue and enjoy personal growth than the University of Bolton. Our goal is help students improve their skills, and help them build industry connections before entering the workplace.

To find out more about applying for MSc Cloud and Network Security, MSc Data Analytics and Technologies, or MSc Software Engineering in 2022/23, see our available computing courses.

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