The responses I'm reading rather evenly fall on both sides for the same reasons!
* Get your Masters you will:
* be hired more readily - companies look for people with degrees.
* be paid more when you are hired for a net $ win
* Don't get your Masters, get a job you will:
* be hired more readily - companies assume people with Masters want to be paid more and screen them out.
* make 2 years of income which will more than offset the cost of grad school plus any increase in pay you might get
This isn't terribly surprising - any one person on
The conclusion you should draw from this is:
* when you go to work, either way apply to lots of companies! Some might screen you out because you have a Masters or because you don't!
* salary probably has a lot more to do with your negotation skills, location, job market etc.
I have some other things for you to consider, given how open you left the question: "which is better?"
Obviously your professors think you should stay in school. After all - they all did, didn't they? It worked out for them. And they might have some non-obvious stake in you sticking around too.
Well, what do you mean by better? This is a pretty personal decision. Perhaps "make more money (immediately or in total)" isn't your deciding factor.
How much do you like your field? Many responses seemed to assume that you wanted to get a career as a sysadmin/network admin, which wouldn't match your degree (not that it matches any degrees really). Do you want to get a fair bit more depth in a more narrow subject area in your field of study? If you are unsure about your field, you should probably get out and work!
Consider that once you are working full time, it will be a LOT harder to go back to school even part time, even if you work for a company that pays for all of it. This will get even harder if you get married or have kids.
Maybe you are already in a serious relationship or have kids? That should drive you pretty solidly towards "get a job."
How much do you care about -where- you work? Do you want to work for a specific company or range of companies? Maybe do a straw poll of the company or companies you are interested in, and see if THEY prefer an advanced degree. In computer engineering you might want to go work for HP, Intel, AMD or IBM - in which case a PhD might not be out of the question. And you might even get paid accordingly.
How much did you pay for your undergrad? If you got a fancy degree from Caltech or MIT at $50k/yr you are going to have a hard time "upping" that with a Masters. On the other hand if you went to a "low end" school (this is by your field mind you! An affordable state school could have an excellent rep for your field) AND you have excellent grades it might be wise to try for an MIT Masters to top it off.
What is your funding situation? Would you be paying your way (or would someone else pay it for you?) or would you need to be a TA/RA? Obviously if you've got someone lined up to pay it for you that weighs pretty heavily in the "yes do it" side!
Interested in starting your own business? How does the degree factor into that? Timing - would a 2 year delay help or hurt? Funding - would the money you spend on your degree impact your ability to start the business? Or are you one of "those" people who find grad school the perfect environment in which to start a startup?
Some mentioned teaching - but I didn't see much mention of mention teaching college. I'm guessing since you didn't mention it that teaching high school is not under consideration or you'd be looking at the well-covered Education degree. Teaching college doesn't necessarily mean full time. Increasingly colleges are hiring adjunct faculty and it can be one way to supplement income. Generally a Masters is required (but a Doctorate may not be). I tried this out and can't personally recommend it, but I suspect it depends a great deal on the situation.
Does money really matter to you? Get more accurate data than a straw poll of
Is there a specific Masters program you are interested in? Faculty you want to work with or be your advisor? Some specific locality perhaps (2 years in Hawaii doesn't sound all bad when you've spent the last 4 in Michigan)?
In summary - do a fair bit more research outside of this
Speaking as someone who has plenty of work experience, in a field (sysadmin) where a Masters (CS) would be useless, I still wouldn't mind getting my Masters part time if I worked for a company that paid for it. And I wouldn't have regretted it if I'd chosen to stay in school and still ended up a sysadmin where it made no difference. I like my field a lot and I'm always interested in it - I just happen to like -working- in a different one. In which I'm also interested and if somewhere offered a "Masters in Sysadmin" I'd consider it.
But that is obviously highly personal to me and with no consideration for the $ value.
In every hierarchy the cream rises until it sours. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter