If you are unhappy in your current career, maybe because you feel under-appreciated, or maybe because you feel as though you could be doing something more valuable with your life, it’s important to listen to those feelings and do something to improve your lot.
The question is, what do you do? There are so many different career opportunities available that it can feel overwhelming trying to choose just one! The great thing about an MBA is that it encompasses a range of valuable skills to multiple sectors, so you aren’t locking yourself into just one career path, and you are giving yourself the flexibility to change careers in the future. An MBA can help you get yourself in your current position, or as a springboard into something completely different.
There are an increasing number of online MBA programs available, which mean that you can study from your home and start taking steps to improve your career with the least possible impact on your day to day life.
What is an MBA?
An MBA is a Masters level degree in Business Administration. A good MBA course will allow you to build on your current skills and experience to help you to meet the demands of the business world and give you all that you need to meet your career goals.
Online MBA programs will all have slightly different content, but in general, you can expect to cover things like:
- Business Ethics. Discovering how business decisions impact the people in your organization and the world around you and how to take that into account while still running a profitable business.
- Any business is only as good as the people who work for them. Leadership skills will help you to get the most out of the people working for you, and teach you how to cultivate loyalty.
- Financial Accounting And Management. Using financial analysis and budgeting techniques to effectively manage an organization’s financial resources. You will learn how to make financial predictions and how to finance strategically.
- How to use marketing theories to promote your business, create engagement with your customers, and grow your customer base.
If you have a specific area that you would like to cover, it’s worth looking out for a course that caters to it or speaking with the school you are looking at to see if they can tailor their curriculum to meet your needs.
How Do You Know if an MBA is Right for You?
The decision to look at online MBA programs as part of the next step in your career isn’t one that should be taken likely. Studying for your MBA is likely to take up a lot of your time, even if you are doing it online, and the decision to take on any Masters level degree is also a substantial financial commitment. If you expect the amount you gain from an MBA to be worth the money in terms of the salary you expect to earn as a result, or in terms of the improvement to your levels of job satisfaction, then it can absolutely be worth it, but it’s crucial that you fully weigh up the costs with what you expect to gain.
There is no denying that the jobs market is incredibly tough at the moment. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted many businesses, with redundancies being made across the board to save money. With the competition for work being more fierce, it’s no surprise that an MBA is an asset. Employers know that MBA graduates have a breadth of knowledge on topics related to running a business and that they have likely been mentored by a professional in the best ways to positively contribute to the business world. The tech sector, in particular, looks favorably on MBA graduates. However, you should bear in mind that online MBA programs have mainly been designed with big business in mind. If you think that you might prefer to work for yourself or a smaller business, then it could be that a better option for you is to gain some experience in your chosen sector by taking on voluntary work and making a point of networking with people who might be able to help you.
The key is to spend some time really thinking about what you want your working life to look like. Think about your salary, how you would like your day to be structured, whether you would like to work at home or in an office, whether you would like to work with people or alone. It’s also important to consider what you are good at because pursuing a career in something you don’t have any talent for is likely to be soul-destroying! Once you know these things you can start thinking about which careers match your ideal working life, whether or not an MBA is the best way to get there, and whether the potential salary makes the student debt worthwhile.
We will go on to discuss some of the careers that an MBA can equip you for.
Marketing is a vital function of businesses from all sectors. Whether you’re working for a multinational corporation or for a small charity, your business can only exist if people know they are there. Online MBA programs often have a focused marketing module for this reason. They’ll also teach you the skills you need to communicate effectively with those around you and manage a team which are things a marketing manager must be able to do well to be successful.
As a marketing manager you will be responsible for planning marketing strategies for your company, which you will do by implementing tested strategies for your sector, as well as carrying out analysis on existing marketing campaigns to ascertain what is working well for your client base and what isn’t. This ability to analyse and evolve strategy is particularly key as marketing is changing almost daily with the increased activity in the digital space. People are now able to implement new ideas almost as quickly as they can think of them, and a good marketing manager needs to be able to predict and get ahead of the new trends that appear as a result.
Good online MBA programs will also include a grounding in strategic finance, which is another important aspect of the marketing manager’s job, as you will generally need to be able to achieve measurable results within a fixed time and within a strict budget.
According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), the median salary for a marketing manager in 2019 was $135,900 per year. The salary for marketing managers is highly impacted by the sector you are working in, but it is a career area that is predicted to continue growing. The projected growth of employment of marketing managers is predicted to grow by 6% between 2019 and 2029. It’s also a career path that has the option of variety, as you will be in demand for your marketing knowledge rather than your industry-specific knowledge. This means that you could potentially work in multiple different sectors throughout your working life.
Data Science is a term that is being used more and more frequently, which is reflective of how valuable Data Scientists are becoming in the business world. Data Scientists are responsible for collecting vast amounts of data, storing it in such a way that it can be interrogated, and then carrying out analysis. The analysis is designed to identify trends in the market, which can then be used to inform business strategy. For example, a data scientist might notice that more people in a certain part of the world are buying a particular product. They could then use this observation to suggest that the company they are working for takes advantage of this trend by developing a related product.
As well as the ability to work with data systems and numbers to come to their conclusions, Data Scientists must be able to communicate well. They will be responsible for reporting their findings to other members of the organization who are not so data-minded as they are, so they must be able to explain their reasoning in a way that is understandable. Online MBA programs provide potential Data Scientists not only with the skills that they need to collate and interrogate data, but with the communication and interpersonal skills that they need in order to present their findings.
Dependent on who they are working for, Data Scientists can earn anywhere from $68,000 to $180,600. Generally the top salaries are given to Data Scientists working for computer systems design companies, and the highest concentration of Data Scientists are employed within management and technical consulting services.
Although it might seem a little counter intuitive, online MBA programs are an excellent way to allow you to effect change that positively impacts the environment. Businesses have a huge impact on the planet not only through how they conduct their business, but through how they encourage their consumers to act through advertising and marketing campaigns. Utilizing your MBA to get a position in a large company where you can have an impact on sustainability policies, and earn a nice living for yourself at the same time, could be a great way to feel as though you are giving something back.
Sustainability managers are responsible for setting green targets and ensuring that their company is taking the measures it needs to in order to meet them. You will use analytics to measure your performance and keep abreast of new green initiatives that you might be able to apply to your own organization.
If you don’t like the idea of working for a large corporation, you could also use the business knowledge that you gain through your MBA to help a non-profit organization or charity to succeed.
As sustainability managers can work in a multitude of different industries, it is challenging to provide average salary projections. However, being environmentally sound is a growing focus for business across the board, so it’s certainly an area where being expert would guarantee you opportunities across a range of businesses or even working independently as a consultant.
The healthcare industry is expected to grow exponentially over the next few years, due to an increasing focus on preventative healthcare and the trend towards an aging population. There are also more people than ever before suffering from long term chronic conditions which require regular healthcare, such as obesity and diabetes. The BLS predicts that the employment of Medical and Healthcare Services Managers will grow thirty-two percent between 2019 and 2029.
Online MBA programs can equip you with the skills that you need to run a healthcare facility effectively, such as strategic planning, budgeting and the day to day leadership that a busy hospital or clinic needs to run smoothly.
If you are interested in a career in Healthcare Management an MBA will certainly help, but it’s also a good idea to get some work experience in a healthcare facility, too. The median salary for Medical and Healthcare Services Managers was $100,980 in May 2019.
As well as equipping you for careers in mainstream business, online MBA programs can also make you a great candidate for employment in a variety of unexpected sectors. For example, television, sports, music and fashion companies are all in need of the analytical and problem-solving skills that an MBA graduate can provide.
The survival of these industries is predicated on the fact that they continue to produce content that their audience wants to see. Just like any other industry, if they don’t have a customer base then they don’t have a business. Data analysis is used a great deal in these industries to ascertain what content is doing well with the audience and what content isn’t doing so well. They then use this information, along with information about predicted trends and seasonal information, to plan their next season of content.
If you read interviews with famous entrepreneurs, a lot of them will talk about not needing a specific degree in order to start your own business and that the best way to gain experience is to just get stuck in.
They are right; you don’t NEED an MBA to start your own business. However, depending on what kind of business you want to start up, you may find that an MBA can provide you with skills and experiences that will help you.
The Harvard Business Review published an interview with Stephen Greer, who is a successful entrepreneur. He credits some of his natural personality traits such as self-confidence, the ability to learn on the job, curiosity and the ability to communicate, with his success. However, he also wondered if he might have saved himself millions of dollars in fraud if he had taken an MBA. His fraud was a result of misunderstanding financial and inventory controls, which potentially he might have avoided if he had the grounding and mentorship that online MBA programs provide.
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