Masters Degree - Advice about a decision I"m going to be making

#1
I'm looking to get some advice about a decision I"m going to be making on whether I'm going to get a masters degree. I'm currently a Mid-Senior Level quality engineer at a medical device(and I'm also open to the pharamaceutical industry.
I currently have a bachelors degree in manufacturing industry and have been at my current position(promoted once, but duties are mostly the same) for 6 years and have been a quality engineer for 10 years.
I'm looking to see if the degree(from a credential perspective) will pay off. The university that I'm targeting has a relatively low tuition(22k) and my company has a tuition reimbursement in which when all is said and done, I will likely be paying a little more than a third($7500). The program will require additional employment period of 2 years, bringing the total commitment to between 4 and 5 years.
In looking at managers and directors position in quality(what I'm looking for, for future career growth), about a third say an advanced degree is a plus or preferred. I'm looking for everyone's opinion about whether this is worth it. Will a masters degree in statistics be very valuable for quality management positions? Do you think it's worth the time and money commitment? I look at the material in the curriculum and it does seem good, and relevant to career path, however from simply a learning perspective, I can acquire this knowledge outside of a masters degree.
 
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Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#3
As an aside: Consider as much in statistics education as possible. I have a couple of close friends in the medical field who have done very well, both of which are paid in the $150K+ range and both are Work At Home people. Both have a Masters in math.
 

John Predmore

Quite Involved in Discussions
#4
A graduate degree can formalize what you know or are capable of learning on your own, and give you documented evidence of that attainment. Whether a degree is worth the time and expenditure depends on your own circumstances. I am glad I got an MBA and ten years later, an MS in statistics. I worked harder on the graduate studies than I did the undergrad, because I was studying subjects that I wanted to learn, rather than being stuck in required courses. I can't point to any one transition in my career where my salary took a big jump or I moved into a job I couldn't have done without the education. Now, I have a greater awareness of how I think about situations and knowledge itself, I have more confidence in my ability to figure things out. As a manufacturing quality engineer/manager, I refer to my statistics textbooks much more often than I look up basic engineering formulas and information. Good luck whatever you decide.
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#5
I did go for an extra tour in the Navy to get a MS in Operations Research (very applied statistics) and was well worth while. We did figure out the rationale for the salaries for about two dozen of us who were hired at once, and a MS was worth $15k salary difference then (1993). Judging by the general lack of knowledge of statistics out there, stats (or OR) pays very well, There are some government jobs for statisticians where you can see the current salary offerings.
 
#6
A graduate degree can formalize what you know or are capable of learning on your own, and give you documented evidence of that attainment. Whether a degree is worth the time and expenditure depends on your own circumstances. I am glad I got an MBA and ten years later, an MS in statistics. I worked harder on the graduate studies than I did the undergrad, because I was studying subjects that I wanted to learn, rather than being stuck in required courses. I can't point to any one transition in my career where my salary took a big jump or I moved into a job I couldn't have done without the education. Now, I have a greater awareness of how I think about situations and knowledge itself, I have more confidence in my ability to figure things out. As a manufacturing quality engineer/manager, I refer to my statistics textbooks much more often than I look up basic engineering formulas and information. Good luck whatever you decide.
Thanks for the reply. I do find that statistics is quite relevant often in my day to day duties. Would you say you often refer to your more advanced graduate material versus basic undergrad statistics that is taught in the single undergrad stats course in most engineering curriculum.
 

John Broomfield

Staff member
Super Moderator
#8
What do you love doing?

What are your talents?

Answer both these vital questions to be guided in your learning choices.

Chasing a high position/salary before you answer these questions could make you very unhappy.

Study what you love for a successful life.
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#9
Thanks for the reply. I do find that statistics is quite relevant often in my day to day duties. Would you say you often refer to your more advanced graduate material versus basic undergrad statistics that is taught in the single undergrad stats course in most engineering curriculum.
I would say that is definitely true for me. Undergraduate engineering statistics was more about probability distributions and estimating single point failure probabilities. Graduate statistics, in the context of Operations Research, and especially being given at a military school (US Naval Postgraduate School) covered more how to use data in an operations and management. Especially SPC.
 

John Predmore

Quite Involved in Discussions
#10
Would you say you often refer to your more advanced graduate material versus basic undergrad statistics
Statistics is the mathematics of uncertainty. There are many careers that make decisions in the face of uncertainty, but definitely manufacturing does - uncertainty from rare events, dimensional variation, measurement repeatability, sampling error. Undergraduate statistics courses cover the basics, but when the student is in the chapter on binomial statistics, he knows the homework problems are all dealing with binomials. The graduate courses, for me, seem to cover application in broader situations and part of what you develop is understanding what applies when, and why. Today, I occasionally browse a chapter or read an article to retrieve a formula or reacquaint myself with a particular subject, but the most valuable knowledge I retain is the awareness of sources of variation and how variation manifests itself in behavior in a system. That awareness is not easily found in a textbook. When I see a clue or suspect a significant source of variation is latent, then I develop a way to look for it, quantify it, understand it, address it.
 
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