(BPT) - Returning to school for a master’s degree may seem like a daunting undertaking, no matter what your current situation is. However, it’s important to understand the many benefits of pursuing a master’s degree, and how those benefits can be applied to enhance your current job — or leveraged in a new career.

Here are a few ways that advanced education can create new opportunities.

Grow your knowledge and update skills.

Continuing your education can help you stay up to date on knowledge and skills relevant to your field and could make you more competitive in the job market. These new skills will allow you to support or lead a variety of projects and diversify your experiences to make a significant impact in your current position, or in a future opportunity.

Staying on top of evolving trends in your industry — especially for fast-changing areas such as IT, business and healthcare — gives you the tools you will need to become a leader in your organization, or even in your field.

Capitalize on flexibility trends.

There are more programs available today that cater to working adults by offering flexible ways to complete your degree efficiently and affordably. For example, Capella University is an online higher education institution that offers a self-paced, direct assessment program called FlexPath. In this model, students advance at their own pace with a flat tuition fee*, with the potential to save time and money.

One of the newest programs available in this model is the Master’s in Human Resource Management, which is fully aligned to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Guidebook and Templates. The program is suitable for professionals who want to make a shift into the HR field or current HR professionals who can leverage their work experience and other certifications for course credit. The program provides content that can help students prepare for industry-relevant certifications that can help candidates stand out to employers and gain essential skills needed to do an HR job effectively. The courses in the program are also taught by distinguished faculty members with top credentials and hands-on experience in their fields.

Build a stronger network.

Getting a master’s degree may also provide an opportunity to meet other students and professionals who can support you throughout your professional journey. There’s no denying how helpful it can be to have a close network in the field to help with a resume or to provide a reference during a job hunt. Knowing more people in your field allows you to find peers who can inform you of job openings at their organization, plus mentors to help guide you along the way.

Networking is not only about making personal connections to aid you in the job hunt, but it can also help you find ways to develop new skills and gain valuable experience. Being connected with others in your industry can provide you with a valuable perspective on your field as a whole and may lead to career growth opportunities in the future.

Think you’re ready for greater responsibilities at work and more opportunities in your career? This could be the perfect time to consider the benefits of an advanced degree.

* Books, supplies and other fees apply