Some people argue that degrees are great but it’s who you know that lands the job. Often, it’s a combination of both. Furthering your education can make you more employable. If you’re looking to advance your career, you may be debating whether to study for a Master’s degree in your field or an MBA.
An MBA is one of the most popular post-grade degrees and can open doors, but they don't come cheap. Is pursuing an MBA worth it and what are the alternatives?
MBA stands for Master’s of Business Administration. It’s one of the most respected qualifications in business and often seen as a stepping stone to C-suite jobs. An MBA will help you gain a better understanding of overall business management functions.
Most MBA programs take two years to complete but there are one-year accelerated programs.
Entry requirements for an MBA degree are stringent. Applicants must pass a standardized test and submit a resume, academic transcripts, essays and recommendation letters. You need at least three years work experience and evidence of career progression will add weight to your application.
Your decision to get an MBA degree depends largely on the direction you want to take in your career. Completing an MBA degree is ideal if your career goals include the following:
1. You want to gain management skills
MBA programs are intensive for a reason. In a short period of time, you’ll learn about nearly every aspect of business management. You’ll gain management skills in finance, human resources, marketing, and business operations. It also hones your critical thinking skills. This makes you an ideal candidate for more senior positions, which leads to the next point.
2. You want to advance your career
Many executives in large corporations hold an MBA. While an MBA doesn’t guarantee entry into the C-suite, having it behind your name does add some clout to your resume.
MBA programs are challenging and many complete it part time while holding down a full-time job. This demonstrates your flexibility, tenacity and determination — all great qualities in a leader.
Plus, gaining a broad understanding of the different business units is extremely valuable in positions of leadership. That’s why many people looking to advance their career choose to study for an MBA.
3. You want to specialize or switch direction
If you’re looking to upskill in your field, you can opt for a specialized MBA. There are MBA programs specific to fields such as accounting, finance, human resources, marketing, business analytics, technology, and organizational leadership.
A specialized MBA can help you change career direction. For example, if you’re in HR and want to become an organizational leadership consultant. It can also help you break into highly competitive industries like Wall Street or Silicon Valley.
4. You’re seeking better career opportunities
The job market is tough. Having an MBA makes you more employable. According to a survey by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) over 70% of employers are inclined to hire MBA graduates across various industries including finance, technology, health care, and government.
5. You want to start your own business
Maybe you’d prefer to work for yourself? An MBA gives you a set of well-rounded management skills to successfully run your own business. There are also MBA programs that are designed specifically for entrepreneurs.
6. You want to increase your earning potential
With an MBA degree, you can command a higher salary. The average salary for an MBA graduate is between $92,000 and $116,547 per year. In fact, MBA graduates sometimes earn higher salaries than someone with a regular Master’s.
An MBA can give your career a boost, so it’s certainly worth pursuing. However, if your time and money is limited, there are alternative courses you can consider that can also benefit your career.
A graduate certificate gives you in-depth knowledge in a specific discipline in a much shorter period of time. So, an executive certificate in business management is a great alternative to an MBA. A graduate certificate sits between a Bachelor’s and a Master’s and it can help fulfil the requirements for certain Master’s degree programs.
Credentials of Readiness Course
A Credential of Readiness Course is an excellent alternative to an MBA. It can be completed in 17 weeks and consists of three modules: business analytics, economics for managers, and financial accounting. The course includes practical examples of real-life case studies from top companies like Walt Disney, Amazon, PepsiCo, and The New York Times.
Entrepreneurial education is growing. Many universities are recognizing the rise of entrepreneurs and startups and are offering courses designed to equip budding entrepreneurs with the skills and competencies needed to set up and run a business.
An MBA isn’t for everyone but it is ideal for those driven to reach greater heights in their career. As a bonus, you will join a wide network of MBA professionals across the globe. That can lead right back to the first sentence of this article —finding opportunities, not just because of what you know, but also who you know.