Education pays.

At least, that’s what Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows. Higher degree holders earn more and experience lower unemployment rates than those without degrees or with lesser degrees. On a weekly basis, master’s degree holders earn over $500 more than the median for all U.S. workers over age 25, and doctoral degree holders earn about $850 more than that median. Professional degree holders like doctors, lawyers, and veterinarians earn even more, at nearly $870 more than the median.

However, advanced degrees often cost significant funds to obtain. A year of graduate tuition and fees cost about $19,750 for the 2020-21 academic year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The average at private institutions was even more, at $26,620 per year. Some programs offer assistantships or fellowships that offset those costs, but many students will be on the hook for paying or borrowing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Other data from the center, released in July 2023, shows that nearly 3 in 4 graduate students received financial aid in the 2019-20 academic year, in amounts averaging about $25,300.

The catch? Much of the aid doled out to graduate students is in loans. Graduate students who took out loans averaged $26,000, compared to an average of $11,300 in grant funds among recipients. A Center for American Progress analysis found that graduate debt rose from 2010-11 to 2017-18 while undergraduate debt fell, and the share of student debt accumulated by graduate students rose to 40%.

Is the higher pay worth the cost? That’s up to prospective graduate students to decide. Using Bureau of Labor Statistics dataStacker compiled a list of the highest-paying jobs that require a graduate degree in New Orleans, painting a clearer picture of the earnings potential. Jobs listed here require a master’s, doctorate, or other professional degree and are ranked by their median annual pay as of May 2022. Any jobs without annual compensation figures available were excluded from this analysis.

Read on to see what a graduate degree could earn you in New Orleans.

This story features data reporting and writing by Paxtyn Merten and is part of a series utilizing data automation across 366 metros.

#50. Healthcare social workers

– Median annual wage: $59,990
– Median hourly wage: $28.84
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 590 people (1.14 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: Internship/residency

#49. Educational, guidance, and career counselors and advisors

– Median annual wage: $60,210
– Median hourly wage: $28.95
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 1,210 people (2.33 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#48. Librarians and media collections specialists

– Median annual wage: $60,370
– Median hourly wage: $29.03
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 1,110 people (2.14 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#47. School psychologists

– Median annual wage: $61,730
– Median hourly wage: $29.68
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 70 people (0.14 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: Internship/residency

#46. English language and literature teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $61,810
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 200 people (0.39 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#45. Instructional coordinators

– Median annual wage: $63,190
– Median hourly wage: $30.38
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 650 people (1.26 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#44. Chiropractors

– Median annual wage: $63,960
– Median hourly wage: $30.75
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 130 people (0.26 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#43. History teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $64,120
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 80 people (0.16 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#42. Education teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $64,170
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 110 people (0.22 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#41. Judicial law clerks

– Median annual wage: $64,480
– Median hourly wage: $31.00
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 40 people (0.08 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#40. Postsecondary teachers, all other

– Median annual wage: $64,850
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 1,560 people (3.02 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#39. Speech-language pathologists

– Median annual wage: $65,320
– Median hourly wage: $31.40
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 650 people (1.26 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: Internship/residency

#38. Urban and regional planners

– Median annual wage: $74,320
– Median hourly wage: $35.73
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 220 people (0.43 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#37. Mathematical science teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $74,950
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 100 people (0.19 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#36. Healthcare diagnosing or treating practitioners, all other

– Median annual wage: $75,030
– Median hourly wage: $36.07
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 80 people (0.15 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#35. Business teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $75,090
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 280 people (0.54 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#34. Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $75,430
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 140 people (0.26 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#33. Psychology teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $75,830
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 80 people (0.16 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#32. Biological science teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $76,130
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 110 people (0.22 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#31. Physics teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $76,750
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 40 people (0.08 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#30. Chemistry teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $79,140
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 50 people (0.11 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#29. Communications teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $79,260
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 70 people (0.13 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#28. Health specialties teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $79,960
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: Not available
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#27. Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $80,240
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 370 people (0.72 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#26. Education administrators, kindergarten through secondary

– Median annual wage: $80,640
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 1,240 people (2.39 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#25. Education administrators, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $81,240
– Median hourly wage: $39.06
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 1,110 people (2.13 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#24. Audiologists

– Median annual wage: $82,780
– Median hourly wage: $39.80
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 40 people (0.08 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#23. Computer science teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $85,010
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 50 people (0.1 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#22. Computer and information research scientists

– Median annual wage: $88,160
– Median hourly wage: $42.39
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 110 people (0.2 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#21. Occupational therapists

– Median annual wage: $91,360
– Median hourly wage: $43.92
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 550 people (1.07 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#20. Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers

– Median annual wage: $94,370
– Median hourly wage: $45.37
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 70 people (0.13 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: Short-term on-the-job training

#19. Engineering teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $97,780
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 100 people (0.19 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#18. Sociology teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $99,180
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 50 people (0.09 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#17. Physical therapists

– Median annual wage: $99,340
– Median hourly wage: $47.76
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 740 people (1.42 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#16. Veterinarians

– Median annual wage: $100,960
– Median hourly wage: $48.54
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 260 people (0.5 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#15. Judges, magistrate judges, and magistrates

– Median annual wage: $118,790
– Median hourly wage: $57.11
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 30 people (0.06 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: Short-term on-the-job training

#14. Physician assistants

– Median annual wage: $120,080
– Median hourly wage: $57.73
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 620 people (1.19 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#13. Nurse practitioners

– Median annual wage: $122,420
– Median hourly wage: $58.86
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 1,260 people (2.42 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#12. Economics teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $122,930
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 50 people (0.11 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#11. Lawyers

– Median annual wage: $127,250
– Median hourly wage: $61.18
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 4,350 people (8.39 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#10. Pharmacists

– Median annual wage: $128,010
– Median hourly wage: $61.54
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 1,540 people (2.98 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#9. Law teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $132,590
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: Not available
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#8. Dentists, general

– Median annual wage: $149,990
– Median hourly wage: $72.11
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 330 people (0.63 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#7. Architecture teachers, postsecondary

– Median annual wage: $165,040
– Median hourly wage: Not available
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: Not available
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#6. Nurse anesthetists

– Median annual wage: $180,200
– Median hourly wage: $86.63
– Education required: Master’s degree
– Total employment: 310 people (0.6 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: None

#5. Family medicine physicians

– Median annual wage: $217,030
– Median hourly wage: $104.34
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: Not available
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: Internship/residency

#1. Anesthesiologists (tie)

– Median annual wage: Exact median salary unknown; at least $239,200 per year or $115 per hour
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: Not available
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: Internship/residency

#1. Emergency medicine physicians (tie)

– Median annual wage: Exact median salary unknown; at least $239,200 per year or $115 per hour
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 170 people (0.33 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: Internship/residency

#1. General internal medicine physicians (tie)

– Median annual wage: Exact median salary unknown; at least $239,200 per year or $115 per hour
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 90 people (0.18 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: Internship/residency

#1. Physicians, all other (tie)

– Median annual wage: Exact median salary unknown; at least $239,200 per year or $115 per hour
– Education required: Doctoral or professional degree
– Total employment: 1,390 people (2.67 of every 1,000 jobs in the area)
– Required on-the-job training to attain competency: Internship/residency

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