I believe what you are hearing from others that a master's degree is not worth it is probably because some companies believe experience is worth more than education. Individuals are different and some learn by experience whereas others could learn by applying what they have learned in school. Based on my own experience, a major difference I found during my master's education is I was taught how to learn in my own rather than teaching everything. It went long way in resolving problems. If you are pursuing a master's education, then find a company which values that education rather than getting a job anywhere regardless of company's culture.
Good question. While experience is very valuable (in fact irreplaceable) – sometime one may feel inadequacy in his or her professional understanding of certain things. There comes the necessity of Graduate Studies. But then, it all depends on one's personal ambition, expectation, and perhaps professional satisfaction (thinking that things could have been planned, designed and implemented better; although one should be aware of some practical constraints, such as societal attitude of appreciation and matching remuneration, etc).
The 21st century Science and Technology is poised to embark upon a system that may require an engineering education – higher than Bachelors Degree – simply because the horizon of knowledge is expanding – and the requirement for higher education is being felt across the board. In this regard, perhaps NAP documents 25038 and 25284 are useful.
------------------------------Dr. Dilip Barua, Ph.D, P.Eng, M. ASCEVancouver, BC, Canada------------------------------
I agree the concept of knowledge is a benefit both being learned and also experienced. This can be completed concurrently as others have noted above. I too took one class at a time while helping raise my two sons and at times being away from home for work assignments. All of things help mold the individual. Many continue on to graduate school after attaining a BS which is fine for some, but I feel in the vast number of engineers' experience helps them grasp the concepts of what is possible for them and will help direct you on your career path. Getting an MS, MBA or PHD for marketing purposes is a step upward but you need to know how to use that knowledge through additional experience to work for the individual.
I find having the MS gives me quite a bit more credibility with my clients, so it does help me in working for myself with the type of work I do. The main advantage though was what i taught me. Going to school while working was really hard though. It took a lot of self-discipline. As far as schools, it was very, very expensive for me to go to Columbia. There are plenty of state schools out there with excellent programs that are not nearly as expensive. A good part of my tuition was paid for by the Post 911 GI Bill, so it wasn't so painful there.
George W. Runkle III, MS, P.E., M.ASCERunkle Consulting, Inc
My father had a lot of practical experience before getting his Doctorate, which I would look back and say it blazzoned me because my generation was entirely different my parents having just two kids, and he was in a family of five. So my bachelor's degree was somewhat expatriated from my young mind and the people that were from business owner family who attended my college.
I had good ideas in my mind, but was flat-listed to get my first job in the occupation. I got the chance at the Master's degree from the other side of the family and my concepts were rewarded with good intellectual power situating for the Master's degree. The slowdown that a Masters Degree enabled me to see the piece wise progress of engineering constancy.
Take it with a grain of salt… that is what research allows. But for working in the Career itself, unless you are all research, hone down on engineering projects with the government or with private owners and you will find success. If you have the insight I suggest knowing your family and the disciplines each has supported. In the end you will have a close-knit family and esteem no regrets.
Hi Colleen, thanks for the opportunity to share my opinions on your questions.
"I am a graduate structural engineer with ~2 years of experience, weighing the pros and cons of getting a master's degree and looking for advice from more experienced professionals."
Q.1. " Is there anyone who can speak on this in the long-term?"
Colleen, with 20/20 hindsight