Do you need an MBA?
“Oh, you’re thinking of going into business? You definitely should get an MBA!” is a piece of advice we’ve all heard. The way it is phrased, an MBA is some sort of catch-all springboard into business-oriented leadership or management-level positions and a must-have for those who want to be promoted. (Check out some of the MBA programmes available!)
That is not precisely the case. In this article, we’ll untangle the MBA and some of the pros and cons it provides to better help you answer the question, “So, do I need an MBA to go places?”. More importantly, this overview should help you understand why you want to chase that certificate and the work you’re prepared to put in for it.
So, what is an MBA?
The MBA, or Master of Business Administration, is a professional degree that covers business-related topics including finance, accounting, business law, marketing, communication, and management strategy.
It is taught both full-time and part-time. Generally, the full-time MBA takes two years to complete, while the part-time MBA is more flexible and can take anywhere from four to six years depending on the students. This is because the part-time MBA is arranged around a student’s schedule, and therefore is more suitable for those already working.
What will you gain from an MBA?
There are some big gains to be reaped from an MBA. Potentially, you could be looking at:
- Networking opportunities
As you attend business school, you will study alongside your peers, consult your teachers and attend networking events and lectures. All these may become valuable contacts in the future. Also, people are more likely to remember you later as you spent a significant amount of time with them studying for the MBA – and fostering long-lasting connections along the way.
- A higher base salary
While the salary increase varies by programme, type of qualification, specialisation and other factors, and MBA indicates your professional ability to accept greater responsibility and hence a larger salary. Additionally, in today’s uncertain hiring climate, this additional qualification may help you stand out from the crowd and get hired.
- Opportunities for promotion
Studying for any kind of qualification indicates your dedication to your career, but an MBA stands out in this field. It stands to reason that since you paid the hefty price tag and committed yourself to those long hours of study, you will have acquired specialised, in-depth knowledge of business-related topics. This knowledge can become key to advancing your career.
- A credible certificate
- Relevant skills
MBA skills are marketable across industries, making them ideal for those thinking of a career switch or starting out at their first job. MBA graduates can find employment in varied sectors from STEM research to supply logistics. MBA graduates also enjoy a boost in confidence and self-knowledge which is useful in any job.
What are the disadvantages?
The two key disadvantages of an MBA are money and time. An MBA is expensive, and even on a part-time schedule will take some years to complete. These sunk costs cannot be recovered if you choose to go into a non-business-related career. Added on to those are “salary loss” costs, referring to what you would have been earning had you not pursued the MBA.
Additionally, should you wish to apply for a position in an SME or local business, they may find you overqualified for their roles. Since hiring has contracted due to the pandemic, companies may be looking for individuals with lesser qualifications, who will also accept lower salaries, and an MBA stands in the way of that. Another scenario is if you have hit the wage ceiling of your current position – in which case, an MBA cannot bring you many advantages.
An MBA is not a ticket to a large pay packet or C-suite position, but it can definitely help to ease the way there. Think hard about your career goals and the industry you want to be in, and decide if you wish to commit to the MBA.