Whether you are just completing an undergraduate degree or are already making your way in your career, taking a postgraduate Master of Business Administration (MBA) course may enhance your employment prospects and income.
Almost every industry offers opportunities for MBA holders, and the type of job opportunity available to you will be dictated by your original degree, work experience and of course your MBA specialisation.
Employment sectors such as information systems, finance and banking are big employers of MBAs, but many other sectors, such as health, manufacturing and electronics, also offer enhanced job opportunities to MBA-holders. There is a wide range of roles open to MBAs, including sales, human resources, marketing and finance.
An MBA shows potential employers that you understand the core components of the business and may have specialised in one or more key areas. MBA job descriptions will often cover the management of personnel and assets, and duties can include business planning and client relations together with resource analysis.
Enhanced job prospects are often considered a given for MBAs in certain sectors, but what about the cost and salary prospects?
Forbes reported on a study that examined 550 graduates from one MBA programme over five years to see how their salaries were affected by attaining an MBA and whether the MBA had been worthwhile. The data included pre-MBA pay, post-MBA starting pay and pay five years after MBA graduation.
The peer-reviewed study revealed that full-time MBAs improved their salary by as much as 50%. The figure was in line with the findings of a previous study ten years earlier conducted by the same researcher. The similar results implies that the benefits of an MBA have been consistent despite macroeconomic variables. The pay increase for part-time MBAs was 41%.
By the end of the five-year period, full-time post-MBA salaries were up 80%. Graduates of part-time programmes showed a 56% increase. Further confirmation of the value of an MBA can be found in an analysis by the Financial Times in early 2017.
In this case, the tracking period was three years post-graduation. Graduates from 100 different business schools three years into full-time employment after completing their MBA earned an average of $142,000 in 2016. This had increased from the previous year’s average of $135,000 and was the biggest increase in average salaries for MBAs since before the financial crisis.
Some education experts have described the past few years as a golden age for MBA graduates’ job prospects.
Analysis of the MBA jobs markets suggests that MBAs are becoming more attractive to companies from sectors not previously associated with MBA recruitment.
Despite this, the highest-paying sector according to the FT report remains financial services, with an average salary of $159,000. The e-commerce sector was a close second, but almost all sectors showed an increase.
The Association of MBAs (AMBA) reveals that most people self-fund their MBA, while some are lucky enough to be employer-sponsored. Others rely on loans and scholarships.
Considering the personal investment and the prospect of a major career change, it is important to have a clear vision of what you want from your course. Having a clear plan of the next step on the career path will help you choose the right options within the course to suit your skills and enhance job prospects.
There are different entry levels for MBA students and different types of MBAs. A general MBA will suit those with limited business experience who are looking to take the next step up in their field. An executive MBA is more suited to those already in a management position looking to reach board level. These courses will usually be part-time. Some specialist MBAs are geared toward industry sectors, and online MBAs allow you to tailor your studies around your other commitments.
Enrolling in an MBA is not a decision to be taken lightly, given the cost and the entry requirement of several years’ work experience; winning a place on a top MBA course can also be extremely competitive, and the leading schools often have a limited number of places. It is important that you have a clear view of your goals and expectations.
The advantages of and convenience of an online MBA in certain career paths is clearly evident, but before you sign up you should consider the full financial costs and the suitability of your course – and remember to also consider online courses!