Will getting an MBA help me advance in my field?

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mba_investment_bankingGerard from the University of Maryland University College asked: 

I have been teaching information technology for the last 10 years at high school level ( preparing students to take the A+ and Network+ certifications). I just finished my first Master’s in Information Assurance, and I am about to start my MBA.  My goal is to go back to the field but I am concerned about my lack of experience on the field as well as how my resume might be be perceived. I am 41 years old. What should I do? Will getting an MBA help me advance in my field?

Hi Gerard –

Let me start answering your question with a question of my own:  What is “your field”?

You ask if an MBA will help you advance in your field, but I am not certain what your field is.  Now, it’s not important that I know your field, but it is critically important that you know what you mean when you say “my field” for a few reasons:

An MBA degree is not universally beneficial to career advancement

Will an MBA help you advance in your career?  Maybe.

If possessing the education and training an MBA offers is something employers in your field are seeking in candidates, an MBA can be of benefit. Will an MBA help you advance in your career as a high school teacher or an information assurance professional?  Probably not.

Rather than simply choosing to pursue a graduate degree, you should scrutinized and evaluate what you will be paying for if you choose to pursue the degree.  So here is my circular response:  If you wish to work in a field and professional role for which having an MBA is a fundamental qualification, having an MBA will help you advance in that field.

All  MBA degrees are NOT created equal

I do not mean to criticize any university or any degree program, but the simple reality is that all MBA degrees are not related equal.  An MBA from a Top 20 MBA program can have a transformational impact on your career.  Big, multi-national employers seek out candidates from Top 20 MBA programs.  They are in great demand.  They get recruited.

MBA degrees from lower ranked (or unranked) programs are still good educational experiences; they just typically will not have the same career-transforming impact as will the more prestigious programs.

You have to ask yourself – What do you hope to get out of this degree?  Good educational preparation and business skills that will help you do your job, or a significant career transition triggered by your MBA educational experience?  Once you have answered that question, you can assess the degree and institution you are considering and determine if your expectations are realistic.

Having an MBA degree will not guarantee you a job offer

Let me repeat that – having an MBA degree will not guarantee you a job offer, or a certain level of compensation, management responsibility, autonomy or prestige.

I have witnessed many students over the years who thought that simply having  those three initials (MBA) at the end of their name would somehow make them immediately employable, and I have seen the disappointment in their eyes when they realized that was simply not the case.

Go into this with your eyes wide open!

Getting your MBA could be the very best thing you can do to advance your career!  It could also be an very expensive and time consuming career development experiment.  The only way to ensure is is the former is to manage your educational experience carefully – class by class, semester by semester, internship by internship – to make sure you are getting what you want and expect from your investment.

Good luck!


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