Two Master's Degrees... What are my options?
November 11, 2008 10:57 AM   Subscribe

This spring I will be finished with my second Master's degree. I've been at my current job for almost three years and while I enjoy it immensely, I am wondering about other opportunities that having two graduate degrees might open up for me. Am hoping to obtain answers especially from individuals who have multiple degrees and have gone into somewhat different career paths.

My first graduate degree is a M.S. in Secondary School Education. I am qualified to teach in public school (context area: Social Studies). I also am certified to teach at schools for the deaf but that is not something I want to focus on because of how such institutions are being shut down at an alarming rate.

My second graduate degree is going to be a M.S. in Professional/Rehabilitation Counseling, which I'll be obtaining in May of 2009. I'm not going to be pursuing my Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) certificate because I was recently on their advisory panel and signed a waiver stating that I promise not to take the CRC test for at least five years due to first-hand exposure to potential test questions. This is perfectly fine with me because I'm not planning on having my own independent counseling practice and I have no desire to work for any of the major insurance companies around here.

I currently work at a state agency as a vocational rehabilitation counselor and while I do enjoy this job very, very much, lately it seems as if I'm often hearing from people (respected professionals) that I should be doing something "better" and so forth.

For me, "better", would be to obtain employment as a researcher (researcher scientist?) or a professor at a college/university, which is actually my ultimate goal but I'm also open to acquiring other, relevant experience that might enhance myself as an educator. I'm a voracious reader and I'm always conducting research- I'd really like to go into education/rehabilitation policy if the opportunity ever presents itself.

For now, my intention is clearly to "stay put" because as I mentioned, I love my job and I enjoy working with my colleagues, however, I have my goals outside of this field and have oftentimes thought about returning to the classroom as a high school teacher.

In a nutshell, my inquiries are defined as follows:

(I) I've been told that having Master degrees in both education and counseling will make me very attractive to school systems. True?

(II) Will the fact that I do not have terminal degrees in either fields (education and counseling) hurt my chances in obtaining research-based positions and/or work as a college instructor?

(III) For someone with two Master's degrees, what are the other fields I could go into when I have specialization in both education and counseling?

(IV) Has anyone experienced negative pitfalls of having multiple graduate degrees such as frequent rejections on the basis of being overqualified?


Caveat #1: I am profoundly deaf. This, unfortunately, creates a lot of barriers for me in the workplace. Many schools have refused to hire me because in order for me to instruct in public schools, they would have to also pay for a full-time sign language interpreter since I communicate primarily in American Sign Language. In their eyes, I'm not cost effective- I'm a budget burden. As I mentioned earlier, I do not want to work at schools for the deaf because of the lack of job security and their notoriously low salaries.

Caveat #2: I've mentioned that I love my current job. However, I am also trying to plan ahead (1-3 years) and have always been open to other opportunities.

Caveat #3: Not really looking to relocate anytime in the near/distant future. Wife loves her job and is pregnant with our first child. We also put a lot of work in our present home.

Caveat #4: I'm 27 years old.

Caveat #5: My current job is paying fully for my second graduate degree, which is really the only reason why I went back to school after I completed my first Master's.

Thanks in advance for all of your suggestions/insights.
posted by msposner to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Will the fact that I do not have terminal degrees in either fields (education and counseling) hurt my chances in obtaining research-based positions and/or work as a college instructor?

You're probably going to have a better shot at research gigs with a PhD, IMHO. If you love research so much, why not do a PhD in education? It is possible that some of your previous MA work would count toward a PhD.

Your 2 MAs will allow you to teach at the community college level though. I wonder if you'd encounter the same problem that you have at the secondary school level.
posted by k8t at 11:47 AM on November 11, 2008

I have an M.A. in English and an M.Ed. in Educational Technology. I make my living as a software trainer (full-time) and adjunct English instructor (part-time). I work at a state technical college. Here's my take on your four questions:

(I) I would suspect that the two degrees would be seen as a strength here, as you would have expertise in two areas and your background in education would give you some clout with the other teachers. Besides that, educators and educational administrators tend to see education as a good thing in general. I have a friend who teaches English and German (undergrad education degree + MA in German) who works at a public school. They have her teach both; it's a strength.

(II) I don't know about research-based positions outside of academia. But, inside academia, research happens at four-year schools and four-year schools generally require Ph.D's. However, you'd certainly be qualified to teach at most any two-year school, but whatever research you did would more-or-less be your own pet project (i.e. no release time).

(III) I'm not sure. I would hope that you could find a school that would let you do both (i.e. teach a few classes and work as a counselor).

(IV) No. You just have to be able to weave a narrative that explains why you're interested in both fields and that your knowledge of one enhances your knowledge of the other. People find it a little curious, but no one has, to my knowledge, ever held it against me.
posted by wheat at 12:34 PM on November 11, 2008

For me, "better", would be to obtain employment as a researcher (researcher scientist?) or a professor at a college/university, which is actually my ultimate goal.

I just wanted to jump in and echo others here. For this you will need a PhD. Two Master's degrees do no equal a PhD, unfortunately. If this is your ultimate goal as you say, then you will have to go back to school. I had two Master's before I started my PhD and it's not as bad as it sounds, as long as you get into a good program.
posted by ob at 1:36 PM on November 11, 2008

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