According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, there are 2.5 million engineers in America. And, there’s a constant influx of new engineers hunting for positions. How can you stand out to get hired or get a promotion?

For more and more engineers, the path is to pursue a master’s degree. The data shows that the time and dollars invested yield higher salaries, career advancement and personal gratification.

1. Salaries

According to The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) the average starting salary for mechanical engineers with a Bachelor’s degree was $61,300, while those with a master’s degree earned $71,700. The same rule of thumb tends to run through all facets of engineering with those finishing a master’s program earning about 20 percent more than counterparts with just undergraduate degrees.

According to Payscale.com, a master’s in Electrical Engineering is the number one best-paying job of those with the advanced degree at a median of $121,000. Payscale.com research revealed other engineers with master’s degrees have the top 4 of 5 spots, as far as earnings potential. 

2. Career advancement 

More and more, employers seek out those with higher levels of education. In fact, a recent study from Career Builder showed as many as 30 percent of hiring authorities have raised their education requirements for employment. The commitment to completing advanced education not only shows fortitude, but also delivers a candidate with greater experience that will translate on the job. Your master’s diploma could separate you from another candidate for a promotion. 

3. Personal satisfaction

There’s nothing like a job well done. After earning his bachelor’s degree in engineering, Mark Kelemen secured a job at BD Medical, but knew his dream was to further his education. “I eventually wanted a master’s degree, which I knew would give me more career opportunities, hone my technical skills and make me proud of my accomplishments," he says.