For years, an MBA was the sure ticket from middle management to the upper echelons of a company. It opened networking doors, providing new job opportunities, and showed that the recipient was not just a cog in the machine, but instead was a well-rounded business professional. That has started to change. Increasingly, many are calling into question the value of an MBA; after all, six figure price tags are not out of place here. Could an MBA be what your career needs?
Reasons to Earn an MBA
There are a number of incredible reasons to get an MBA, and those have yet to disappear. In fact, a number of the reasons to get an MBA are not threatened by any developments in technology or business; simply put, they are about building relationships and establishing trust.
For starters, a majority of companies really value an MBA in potential hires. Some firms, especially consulting or finance companies, view it as almost necessary before considering hiring someone for many roles. For others, given the shift in MBA curricula over the past few years towards strategic vision, an MBA demonstrates that the recipient is capable of producing a comprehensive vision for a company, while having the knowledge to make it happen.
That may be quite lofty, but another great reason to get an MBA is that the networking potential is almost endless. MBA programs are built to facilitate business, and by doing so, they work to make sure that alums are engaged enough to answer email and phone calls from other alums. As a result, if there is a particular career field that you are trying to break into, an MBA from a respected university in that sector may be just the ticket to your dream job.
Speaking of jobs, MBA hiring is not likely to slow down soon. While plenty of companies want an MBA, they are also placing a high enough value on the degree to make sure that they are hiring them in record numbers. Hiring for MBA grads is consistently good, meaning that even in tough economic times, companies will still be willing to pay for the top-notch knowledge that an MBA holder possesses.
Reasons to Avoid an MBA
At the same time, a number of reasons exist that might be able to dissuade someone from considering an MBA. First of all, it is all but impossible to ignore the cost of a top program. Fees are often in excess of $100,000, with some elite programs reaching as high as $200,000. Moreover, this does not include living expenses; after all, few MBA students want to live like college students while building their professional networks, so expect to see a rather substantial number here. Nor does it include lost earnings during the time spent to earn the degree in the first place; walking away from a $100,000 per year job for two years may result in a raise of $80,000 upon return to the workforce, but that raise must be considered in light of lost income.. When these are all added up, that can result in nearly $500,000 of direct and indirect costs for the degree.
Second, it might be worthwhile asking if an MBA would even be useful. At their core, MBA programs offer three qualities. First, they offer a network. Second, MBA programs provide a new or expanded skillset. Finally, MBA programs do offer some prestige. If there is no real gain in network or skills, it is incredibly important to ask if the prestige is enough to justify the cost. For some professionals, especially those who work for companies that pay more for a masters degree, it may well be. For others, it simply is not.
Finally, it is important to realize if an MBA is actually necessary for career progression, or if it is simply a detour away from one’s actual career. A computer programmer with no desire to work on the business side of development has little reason to get an MBA; instead, an MS or even no graduate degree at all may be a better fit. Additionally, those currently in finance roles may find that their career is progressing nicely and there would be little real gain from an MBA.
In short, it really does differ from case to case as to if an MBA would be a useful proposition for an individual. Instead of looking for a solid yes or no answer, it is more important to, as this article has done, look at a number of questions regarding what it is exactly that is trying to be gained from the MBA experience.