If you’re thinking of advancing your career in business, you may have considered the idea of getting an MBA. A bachelor’s degree in business, or a business-related subject, will certainly open up plenty of opportunities, but going for a more advanced degree is an investment that can take your career even further. However, it needs to be carefully considered. Unlike most undergraduate degrees in business, advanced degree programs tend to be more about getting or advancing a career.
If you find yourself wondering whether or not you’re going to be able to get to the next career level without furthering your education with an advanced degree, you’re probably a good candidate for a program such as an MBA.
However, it’s important to bear in mind that studying for an advanced business degree can be financially expensive, plus physically and emotionally taxing. One of the most common mistakes that professionals make when trying to advance to the next step of their career is making the assumption that they need an advanced degree when in reality, more experience, specialised training or professional certification would have the same outcome.
So, if you’re thinking of taking an advanced business degree like an MBA, how do you make sure that it is the right choice for you?
Ask the Right Questions:
To make sure that you correctly determine whether your future career path will need an MBA degree, a related advanced degree in business, or whether you can get by with professional certification or training, it’s important to ask yourself the right questions. Do some research, speak to professionals who’ve achieved the goals that you have set for yourself, and be as specific as you can with your questions.
- Do the people in the role that you wish to enter have advanced business degrees?
- If not, what qualifications do they have that helped them get there?
- If they have a degree, what type of degree do they have?
- Where did they get their degree?
Asking these questions will allow you to determine not only if getting a degree is going to be the most beneficial step for your future career advancement, but also what type of degree and which university or business school is likely to provide the best return on investment. It’s also worth asking some other questions, such as:
- Should I study on-campus or take an online degree like this MBA from Aston University Online?
- Will my employer be willing to pay for all or some of my advanced degrees?
- If not, how will I finance my degree? Am I willing to apply for a graduate degree loan on top of any undergraduate student loans I already have?
- If studying online, are there options to pay in instalments or other flexible options rather than getting a student loan?
- What would be the best degree concentration for me to specialise in?
Speaking to a career advisor who specialises in business might be a good move, as they can help you determine the exact choices to make in order to improve your chance of reaching the career goals you have in mind.
Speak to Your Employer:
If your goal for getting an advanced degree is to move up the career ladder with your current employer, it’s important to make sure that they value the advanced degree in the first place. The last thing that you want is to spend the next few years of your life earning an advanced business degree only to discover that it doesn’t actually make much difference in terms of your career, or that your employer would have been happy to promote you with professional certification or additional training.
If you feel that studying for an MBA or another advanced business degree course will help you move into a managerial or other more advanced position at work, it’s worth running the scenario past your employer first. Doing this will have a few advantages for you, including:
- The chance to figure out what your employer would need from you in order to view you as a candidate for a promotion.
- Finding out whether or not your employer sees you as management material in the first place; if they don’t then it might be worth considering moving your career elsewhere where you have more opportunity. If you want to stay with your current employer, you can use this situation to ask them what they suggest you do in order to improve your chance of being considered for management in the future.
- Determining whether there will be opportunities for you in the future with your current employer. If you’re working for a start-up, for example, they may not have the budget for promoting you for at least a while, and it’s worth knowing this before you decide whether or not to invest in an advanced degree.
Gauging the reaction that you get from your employer will help you best inform your decision and determine whether or not studying for an advanced degree is the best step for you to take. You can also speak to them about any funding benefits that they provide to employees who decide to study for a degree and any arrangements that will need to be made in order to best support you during your studies, such as flexible working time around lectures if you’re going to be studying for your degree on-campus.
Consider Your Circumstances:
Only you know your individual circumstances well enough to make an informed decision as to whether or not an MBA or other advanced business degree is the right move for you. But before you decide, gather as many resources and advice as you can to make sure that you have enough information to support the choice that you make.
Bear in mind that most of the time, the experience itself of getting an advanced business degree like an MBA is a key transferable skill in itself. Alongside the classes, lectures, coursework, essays, and exams that you’ll be working on as you study, you’ll have plenty of networking opportunities that will be able to improve transferable skills such as:
- Communication skills
- Team working skills
- Leadership skills
And, the connections that you make while studying for an advanced degree in business can be hugely valuable to you in the future. You may meet people who end up recommending you for future job positions or even being your employer in the future if things don’t work out with your current one. In addition, the professional network that you build while studying for your MBA or other graduate degrees in business can be extremely useful if you ever decide to start your own company in the future. Many MBAs meet fellow students who end up being future business partners, investors and more.
What Jobs Can You Expect to Find With an MBA?
Sometimes, students opt for an MBA because they want a change of employer or even a change of career direction completely. If you find that your current qualifications aren’t enough to help you move into the career that you actually want, an advanced business degree can help. The professional payoff is certainly one of the biggest reasons to pursue an MBA or similar advanced degree in business. Some job titles that you can expect to be eligible for as an MBA include:
- Sales Manager
- Project Manager
- Production Manager
- Brand Manager
- General Manager
- Financial Analyst
- Marketing Manager
- Cost Accounting Analyst
There’s plenty of information and reading materials that you can find if you’re trying to figure out whether or not an MBA is really worth it; bear in mind that these are often generalised and may not be applicable to you or your specific situation, so take any information that you find and use it together with the answers to the questions that you asked above. The truth is that only you can determine whether an MBA is the best option for you.
Is Earning an MBA What You Really Want?
You know that getting an MBA or similar advanced business degree will help you further your career prospects, build your professional network, and open up various new job opportunities for you throughout the future. But, is it what you really want? Along with focusing on the end-goal, don’t forget to think about the entire process of getting an MBA and what it will mean for your life. Are you equipped to handle the amount of work and commitment that you’ll need to put into getting an MBA? You’ll be:
- Most likely studying on top of working full time
- Fitting your study around your family commitments, hobbies, and life in general
- Studying for at least two years, or one-year if you enrol in a shorter MBA program
- Studying either full- or part-time depending on what you decide; bear in mind that part-time programs will take longer to complete, but maybe a better option for somebody who already has a lot of commitments to fulfil.
If you’re ready to handle all of the above, have weighed up your options, asked the right questions and come to the conclusion that an MBA is still the best option for you, then go for it!