“If you’re going to manage anything in a corporation, as far as I’m concerned, an MBA is crucial.” — Reynold Byers, Clinical Professor, W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University
What motivates you to seek out a Master of Business Administration? You could be looking to further develop your career and need a broader background in management. You might be interested in starting your own business and want a deeper understanding of business as a whole. Maybe you have a passion for strategic thinking and analytics and want to apply them more extensively within an organization. Even considering a career change can be reason enough to add an MBA to your resume.
“The value of an MBA has long been recognized in business,” says Jennifer Whitten, Director of Graduate Career Services in the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “You’re going to learn tools that will allow you to be more successful in any organization.”
Earning a Master of Business Administration can prepare you for the business world in more ways than one. As you learn the important functional information about business — such as accounting, finance and supply chain management — you may also be able to broaden the important soft skills that make a good leader. You can build a skill set to become a strong communicator and motivator who can manage priorities, people and time. You can learn how to analyze numbers and present the results in a widely accessible way. You can learn to think strategically as you enhance your ability to collaborate with others and achieve goals. Most of all, as you build these skills, you can learn how business fundamentally works.
ASU Online MBA student, Gunnar Bergeson, notes that the online MBA program’s focus on providing him with the skills for success in business began on day one. “One of the things that I really liked about how ASU has structured the online MBA is the first class out of the gate was organizational theory and behavior. That has been very helpful in terms of how we’ve had virtual teams in our cohort and we’ve worked on projects.”
The right amount of education in business can take you down a number of career paths. Here are five options that can put the skills you learn while earning your MBA to good use.
1. Management Consultant
If you consider yourself a problem solver, a career as a management consultant can give you the perfect vehicle to flex your strategic muscles. Management consultants identify current problems and potential risks within a company and then help them overcome these issues. A large component of this position is doing research and analyzing data, which you then use to develop, recommend and implement business improvements for a company.
It’s important to be proficient with computers and have a strong mathematical background to gather and review relevant information in this role. You’ll often need to present your findings and suggestions, so having strong public speaking and presentation skills is very helpful.
The median salary for management consultants, according to Payscale, is $85,500, and relevant work experience positively influences salary. Typically, those entering this field should have a bachelor’s degree in business or finance, but more employers are focusing on candidates with MBAs. Demand for management consultants continues to grow, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as organizations seek ways to improve efficiency and costs. Job growth in this market is projected at 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, well above the national average for all professions.
2. Financial Analyst
A passion for both business and numbers could make you an ideal candidate to pursue a career as a financial analyst. In this role, you provide guidance to organizations and individuals making investment decisions. By studying economic and business trends as well as assessing the performance of stocks, bonds and other types of investments, you’re able to evaluate and recommend the right investment opportunities for your clients.
The median salary for financial analysts is around $82,000, according to the BLS. This can be influenced by previous experience in finance and your level of education. While it is typically a must to have a bachelor’s degree in a related field to apply for financial analyst opportunities, an MBA is often a requirement for advanced positions. It can also be important to demonstrate prior knowledge in options pricing, bond valuation and risk management.
The BLS projects an above-average market growth for financial analysts from 2014 to 2024. This 12 percent increase is due to the expanding range of available financial products and the need for individuals with specialized, in-depth knowledge to advise on emerging markets and new investment opportunities.
Starting your own company or becoming self-employed requires a solid understanding of business foundations. As you launch a business, you will likely need to fill many different roles. This means having the technical skills and knowledge to do your desired work along with the basic business skills to handle functions like bookkeeping and marketing. It’s also important to focus on soft skill development such as communication, interpersonal skills and time management so you’re able to relate to different types of people, build a customer base and meet your professional goals.
An MBA can prepare you for the varied demands of entrepreneurship. You can hone skills such as everyday operations of a startup business, people management and leadership.
According to the BLS, the median salary for a chief executive is $181,000. As an entrepreneur, however, getting to this level financially can take some time and effort, but understanding business is the best tool to help you achieve your professional goals.
4. Marketing Director
Marketing might be a potential career choice if your passion lies in communication. There are many opportunities to write, focus on research and think strategically. As a marketing director, you can do a little of each of these while planning programs that generate interest in products or services. You work with art directors, sales agents, financial staff and fellow marketers to create concepts and budgets for successful campaigns.
A combination of work experience in marketing and the right educational background is important when considering opportunities as a marketing director. Whether a marketing undergraduate student or not, it’s a good idea to consider going back to school for your MBA to help develop your skill set to the level needed to succeed in this role.
The median salary for marketing directors, according to the BLS, is $131,000, and the projected job growth in this area is estimated at 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, higher than the national average.
5. Director of Supply Chain Management
A critical part of any business, the director of supply chain management is in charge of the movement of raw materials and products that a business needs to operate. In this role, you are involved in every step, from identifying resources and materials through delivery of the final product to the customer.
Although the exact degree requirement for supply chain management directors can vary by job, an MBA is often necessary. This role is integral to the productivity of most organizations, so numerous employment opportunities exist. The median salary for this position, according to Payscale, is $120,000.
Learn more about your potential career in business
Having an educational background that builds your understanding of how business operates while developing the soft skills you need to be an effective leader in your organization can be imperative for a diverse and successful career. As Whitten explained, “You can take almost all of those concepts that you learned in an MBA and apply it to almost any industry. That’s the beauty of it.”
Learn how an online Master of Business Administration creates a distinctive and individualized experience to prepare you for whatever comes next in today’s business world.