Many think of an MBA as one of the most impressive credentials a professional can earn throughout their career – and for good reason. An advanced degree in business administration can enhance your marketability as a professional and increase job opportunities.
With an MBA, you can advance your career as you learn how to make big-picture decisions for your current employer. You can earn your MBA after finishing your undergraduate program or while working full-time.
Here, we explore how an MBA can help progress your career and open up more opportunities.
Understanding the MBA degree
A master’s of business administration (MBA) is a graduate degree that helps students build their business knowledge, grow their professional network, and boost their career and salary prospects. If you’re someone who wants to gain business skills and accelerate your career, then a master’s degree in business administration may be a great route to take.
The degree program provides practical and theoretical training to help students better understand the general functions of business management. It may be possible to get a promotion into management without an advanced degree. However, earning an MBA positions you to be a top leader for your team and organization.
Depending on the degree program, MBAs can either have a general focus or take a specialized track in fields such as accounting, finance, marketing or relationship management.
To qualify for an MBA program, you must have a bachelor’s degree and take the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).
Why an MBA is important for your career
As a working professional, you may realize that you’re no longer moving forward in your career, meaning you’ve hit a plateau. What can you do to take your career to new heights? Getting an MBA may be a viable option.
You may wonder if it’s worth it, given the commitment and expense involved. But if you plan to work in a managerial capacity or with financial institutions, or if you have entrepreneurial goals, an MBA can help you build the leadership skills you need to succeed in these areas
Not only can earning an MBA open up a wide range of job opportunities and increased earning potential but it can also help you with a diverse group of professionals.
9 ways an MBA will advance your career in business
Earning an MBA provides a wide range of benefits. One of them is the ability to advance your career and enrich your knowledge in business administration. Below are the many ways in which an MBA can help you propel your current career forward.
1. Gain management skills
If you’re looking to build upon or change your career, an MBA program can provide you with the training to help you learn the necessary management skills. AASCB accredited online MBA programs provide essential leadership courses that teach lessons on key aspects to help you succeed in advancing your career.
These lessons are centered around improving your critical thinking when it comes to decision making, as well as how to lead effectively. Taking these classes online also allows you to pursue an MBA on your own schedule.
This level of flexibility is highly beneficial for working professionals who may worry that they are too busy to pursue another degree.
In addition to the level of flexibility MBA programs have to offer, you’ll also gain practical knowledge as you’ll be addressing real-life scenarios during your coursework, with the goal of creating plausible solutions. Your courses will also reflect the ever-changing business landscape, ensuring you’ll have valuable management skills that will still be relevant in your desired field upon graduation.
2. Choose from many MBA specializations
As you pursue an MBA degree, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of specializations and concentrations. Most schools offer students a comprehensive business education that’s compatible with today’s job market.
This means that a lot of programs provide students with a complete outlook in business administration by offering courses in healthcare management, human resources, information systems and cybersecurity.
You can also specialize in general management if you don’t have a career choice or want to excel as a generalist at your workplace.
Strategy and international management are also popular career tracks. You can also pursue an executive MBA, which could put you in the position to become a CEO, CFO or COO. That’s because this type of program is great for preparing graduates for the C-suite track.
Executive MBA programs are ideal for working professionals who already have extensive experience. Many in-person courses take place on weekends so that students can apply what they’re learning to their job.
3. Get access to an extensive business network
When you enroll in an MBA program, you’ll gain many networking opportunities. You’ll be part of a global network of thousands of alumni, giving you access to respected and intelligent professionals you may not have otherwise had a chance to connect with.
You’ll be able to interact with fellow students, professors and businesspeople who have great management experience. This is even true for online MBA programs, as you can interact with professionals through online networks like LinkedIn, school discussion boards and more.
An MBA program teaches you more than just theoretical knowledge about the business world. As you network with other like-minded professionals, you’ll also gain tools that can help you quickly understand changes that occur in the business environment and discover new ways to adapt. Along with these opportunities, you’ll build relationships with other professionals in the classroom and beyond.
4. Enjoy some of the highest salaries in the job market
According to 2021 compensation projections from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, MBA recipients were expected to earn $29,000 more than individuals with only a bachelors in business. If you’d like to increase your earning potential, an MBA may be a great degree to pursue.
You might also choose to get an MBA to change career paths. For example, there are certain industries that offer higher earning potential for MBA graduates. These industries include consulting and strategy, technology management, entrepreneurship, financial services and economics, general business and marketing.
Obtaining an MBA can also allow you to learn unique skills that set you apart from other professionals in your industry, which can help you command a higher salary. For example, learning skills like digital technology proficiency can lead to extra compensation since such skills bring a bonus to any company.
If you’re looking for the highest-paid positions for MBA graduates, consider operational excellence roles. Consulting, healthcare, technology and financial services industries also offer some of the top-earning salaries.
5. Benefit from thriving career opportunities
When it comes to advancing your career in the business administration field, you have two main choices: change the industry you’re working in or advance to a managerial or administrative position.
Many MBA graduates choose to use their newly gained knowledge and skills to pursue opportunities in different industries or job functions they’ve never worked in.
This is made possible through the high level of versatility and flexibility that MBA specializations have to offer. For example, after obtaining your MBA, you may be able to land a high-level management position, such as a senior manager or board director.
The range of careers available to MBA graduates is just as wide as the range of professional and educational backgrounds that can lead to an MBA. This means that you could be an army veteran, a medical practitioner, engineer, firefighter or police officer and still have a successful career in business administration.
6. Widen your perspectives with an international MBA
The benefits of pursuing a career in international business are seemingly endless. One of the best ways to be successful in this track is to earn a master’s degree in international business administration.
This may be the ideal career path for you if you have a few years of work experience and want to develop your leadership abilities in a global business context. You’ll gain such skills through internationally focused courses and study abroad experiences.
If you choose to pursue an MBA in international business, you’ll still have similar courses as you would with a traditional MBA. You’ll learn the essentials of business administration, including courses on finance, accounting, marketing and leadership. The difference is you’ll also gain in-depth knowledge of international business. You’ll learn about a wide range of topics that can help you succeed in a business administration career with a global focus.
These core areas include:
- Foreign markets
- Global economics
- Global challenges facing organizations
- Leadership and communication skills relevant to multinational corporations
7. Gain credibility for your career
An MBA credential immediately signifies that you have business and management expertise. Entering a new career or approaching your current career with an MBA will give your employer more confidence in your decision-making ability. This means they’re more likely to trust your expertise, knowledge and judgment when it comes to making key business decisions.
Sure, you could establish credibility in your firm and industry by volunteering with a project at work to demonstrate that you can take initiative and go beyond your comfort zone. However, in the business world, an MBA provides credibility that’s hard to replicate with just actions.
8. Make a career change
If you’re looking to change your career path, you can successfully do so with a master’s degree in business administration. A lot of the knowledge and skills you gain from earning an MBA are applicable across many industries.
Qualities like leadership, critical and analytical thinking, creativity and communication can be applied in a wide range of industries, from marketing to financial services.
For example, if you’re in a role as a procurement officer, you can earn an MBA and be successful as a market research analyst.
This means as an MBA graduate, your skills can be easily transferred to many industries. Therefore, the opportunities as a recipient of an MBA are endless, allowing you to expand your horizons in industries you’ve never pursued before.
9. Gain stronger communication and persuasion skills
The business education and knowledge you gain in MBA classes wouldn’t be very useful if you can’t effectively communicate your ideas. In business, a lack of effective and clear communication can be detrimental, causing organizations to lose time and money.
Through working with classmates and preparing projects in your MBA classes, you can develop strong communication and persuasion skills. In many MBA programs, you’ll find courses that teach the art of written and oral communication, giving you the opportunity to impress employers with your skills.
How an MBA can increase the odds of a promotion
One of the main benefits of earning an MBA is the ability to access better career opportunities and growth.
So, how can earning an MBA increase your odds of getting a promotion? There are many ways it can increase your chances of advancing in your career. For example, an MBA demonstrates your leadership and your dedication to growth.
Earning an MBA shows employers that you’re seriously committed to improving your skills and growing your knowledge. It also demonstrates that you’re ready and willing to invest in yourself to become a better professional. Employers value professionals who have ambition and are open to learning new things.
As you gain new skills from your MBA program, other leaders will notice you doing things differently, whether you’re asking questions differently or taking on new projects that were once out of your comfort zone. Your employer will notice, recognize and reward such changes with promotions or new job opportunities.
Types of MBA programs
If you’re looking to earn a master’s in business administration, you may be wondering what type of MBA you should pursue. Below are the main types of MBA programs.
- Executive MBA (aka EMBA): This may be a good fit for experienced professionals who want to earn a degree that reflects their business credibility and advance their careers.
- Global MBA: You might choose to pursue a global MBA if you’re a high-capacity, experienced professional who wants to gain a worldwide perspective for your work in business and leadership.
- Specialized MBA: A specialized MBA program allows you to focus on a particular industry or career path. For example, a specialized track might focus on finance, accounting or even entrepreneurship. Seeking out a specialized MBA degree could be ideal for you if you’re interested in a specific industry or profession. As a result, you’ll get more targeted management experience.
What can you do with an MBA?
Pursuing a master’s degree in business administration and management opens you up to a wide range of job opportunities and career paths. Below are some of the top MBA industries to consider.
Careers in consulting are popular among MBA graduates. As a consultant, you’ll work with clients on projects covering multiple industries and functions.
Earning an MBA with a financial specialization can open up job opportunities in banking, investment and financial analysis. With an MBA degree, you can also earn a high-level position within the financial sector.
The technology industry is one of the three largest employers of MBA graduates. A master’s in business administration and management can teach you how to manage data, lead and work in a team, and gain durable skills that can make you successful in a technology role.
There are many executive MBA programs that provide a focus on manufacturing and engineering. An executive MBA can help prepare you for industry changes and a constantly evolving field.
Energy companies are constantly looking for business graduates with a specialization in energy. You can use your MBA degree in the energy industry and take on roles such as a pricing analyst, energy trader, director of operations or business development manager.
Media and entertainment
If you’re not interested in traditional consulting and finance jobs, you can use your MBA to break into the entertainment and media industry. In this field, you might pursue a role in corporate strategy, finance, marketing or film distribution.
An MBA can be valuable to the healthcare industry. That’s because an MBA graduate can bring the business skills needed to manage the streamlining of operations to save costs and increase patient outcomes. In-demand roles for MBA graduates in this field include healthcare consultant, strategic project manager and pharmaceutical brand manager.
Many MBA graduates look for high-paying positions in the real estate industry, such as a senior financial analyst, or executive roles.
Retail is yet another industry MBA graduates can enter after obtaining their degrees. MBAs who choose careers in retail end up as retail managers, store marketing managers and other high-level positions. If you already have a career in retail, you can use your MBA to move up the business ladder.
Is an MBA right for you?
If you’re after a career that places you in a management position and helps stakeholders make key business decisions, then an MBA degree may be right for you. Earning an advanced degree in business administration gives you a leg up in a variety of industries and careers, which can set you apart from others in the job market.