Who Should Get a Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree?

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A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one of the most popular graduate-level degrees and can play a pivotal role in many potential career paths.

For some, it may mean the difference between “grunt” work and making it into management, for others it may provide the knowledge and confidence to become an entrepreneur. Others who seek an MBA may want to become management consultants or provide other kinds of guidance to other business leaders.

The point is that there are a lot of reasons that people choose to pursue their MBA and there are a number of different kinds of people–in different positions–who can benefit from earning one.

This post will examine some of the most common situations that people find themselves in before pursuing an MBA and why it makes sense for them to do so.

Technical or Engineering Staff Wanting to Move Into Management

It should come as no surprise to most people in the technical and engineering fields that simply being good at what you do will usually only take you so far. You may move up the ranks and get pay raises for a while, but many companies–especially corporate environments–will look for those with proven management skills, knowledge, and experience when hiring for any kind of management position.

For many engineers, developers, and other people in these kinds of fields, this can be frustrating.

Luckily, obtaining an MBA can often help. While it may seem strange for someone without an undergraduate business degree to pursue an MBA, it’s actually incredibly common. These programs tend to offer the perfect mix of hands-on management, group-based projects, and textbook business knowledge to provide a solid foundation for many employees to make the transition into a position further up the ladder.

Middle Managers Wanting to Move Into Upper Management

In many career paths, it’s relatively easy to move into middle management. But, transitioning into corporate, regional, or other upper-level management positions can require something else.

Whether you’re looking to stay at your current employer and simply move up the ladder, or you’re wanting to make a jump into management at a different company, obtaining an MBA may give you the boost you need.

Business People Looking to Land a Director or CXO Position

office work photoIn many top companies, it’s nearly impossibly to end up in a director or CXO position without an MBA on your resume.

Sometimes it’s possible to work your way up, but in many cases, you’ll be passed over every time, possibly even for fresh or recent grads who have a higher credential.

So, if you’re a businessperson with a few years of experience and have your eyes on making it to the top leadership rung, obtaining an MBA can help give you the boost you need.

This won’t necessarily guarantee your success, of course, but managing an enterprise company at that level is an entirely different situation than lower-level management or managing a small company, which is why many times an MBA or decades of experience are required to even be considered.

People Transitioning Into Business Ownership

Not all entrepreneurs should pursue an MBA, to be sure. The cost and benefit of obtaining one may not make sense. But, in many cases, it does.

Take, for instance, the case of someone who has worked in a trade or non-business role for much of their life, with little business management, accounting, or marketing experience or knowledge.

For them to jump into the world of business–especially if there are plans for the company to grow into a large corporate entity–may be fraught with unexpected challenges. Earning an MBA may provide the base level of knowledge that one needs to succeed in this kind of venture without a lot of base-level business management experience.

People Wanting to Transition into a Business Career

Similarly to those who are wanting to transition into business ownership, other people may want to transfer from a non-business career into something that can offer them higher pay, better benefits, or more stable work conditions.

If moving to a business career in the corporate management world seems like a good career change for you, then an MBA may be the right credential to get your foot in the door.

A Note on the Importance of a Plan

plan photoObtaining an MBA can be an incredibly smart and lucrative career move. But, it’s not for everyone.

The most important factor in deciding whether to pursue an MBA should be: What is my plan for this degree? 

If your plan is to get the degree and then figure it out, there is a large chance that your investment may not pay off. You may find out that you didn’t need an MBA after all, or that you still need more experience to be considered for the position you want, or any other number of bumps in the road may derail your vision without a plan.

This is why it’s so critical for you to first consider not just what you could do with an MBA, but to narrow in on specific positions, companies, or other professional goals, and then see how an MBA can help you to achieve that–specifically.

Also, be sure to plan for the money aspect. There are some companies that will help you with paying for an MBA, but that isn’t always the case. So ask a few questions before you commit. How much will an MBA cost? Will it pay you back? If so, over what period of time?

For many, an MBA is a wise investment. But, again, it all comes down to planning. So, do so with care.

Tyler Hakes

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