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What Can You Do with an MBA?

Common career paths for Master of Business Administration (MBA) graduates include business operations, marketing, financial services, healthcare administration, human resources, and technology management. Large financial, manufacturing, or retail corporations often hire MBA graduates for leadership or officer positions. Smaller companies will also look for MBAs for positions as general manager or department manager.

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Jobs You Can Get with an MBA

An MBA teaches general management and leadership skills that can be adapted to careers in a variety of industries. Many companies also look for a specializations or experience in specific areas of management. Here are some examples of jobs that often prefer to hire people with MBAs.

Accountant

About the job: Accountants work with an organization's financial information to assure that all data and records are accurately kept. They review financial operations and prepare reports to identify risks and opportunities or recommend ways to manage finances efficiently.

They may prepare budgets, tax returns, or conduct audits. Some accountants monitor or give advice about investments and other assets. Most accountants are also qualified as a Certified Public Accountants (CPAs).

Where you'll work: Accountants with MBAs typically work in management roles such as financial advisor or consultant, investment analyst, compliance officer, or chief financial officer within corporations, government offices, and nonprofit organizations.

IT Manager

About the job: Managers in Information Technology, or IT, make decisions about how computer-related systems are implemented within an organization. They analyze the company's needs to determine what hardware and software to use. Increasingly, IT managers ensure the security of networks, systems, and data.

In some companies, IT managers may also work with a team to develop new software programs or information management to meet the organization's goals. They may direct and supervise personnel who keep computer systems updated and running efficiently.

Where you'll work: IT managers with MBAs may work as chief information officers or chief technology officers for large-scale corporations or organizations. Many businesses of all sizes and purposes, both in the private and public sectors, will employ an IT director.

Human Resources Manager

About the job: Human resources managers plan and oversee all matters pertaining to recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and placement of personnel. They may manage the selection and administration of employee benefit plans. HR managers may also supervise employee training for job functions, as well as conduct training programs such as sexual harassment prevention or inclusion.

Human resources managers will often work with the company's executives in planning long-term strategies for talent development. They may also confer with other departments about matters such as budget, salaries, and compensation.

Where you'll work: Nearly every organization needs HR managers. An MBA with a concentration in human resources may also qualify you for specialized areas such as labor relations or payroll management.

Financial Analyst

About the job: A financial analyst might examine investments such as stocks and bonds or analyze economic trends to develop an understanding of issues that could affect investments. They also prepare reports for use by company officials or shareholders.

Some financial analysts specialize in areas such as financial risk, fund management, securities analysis, or portfolio analysis. These fields require advanced knowledge and experience. An MBA may be helpful in obtaining these positions or advancing to higher levels.

Where you'll work: Financial institutions such as banks, investment firms, insurance companies, consulting firms, and lending agencies often hire financial analysts. Large companies may also have financial analysts on staff.

Management Analyst

About the job: A management analyst is responsible for seeing that a business operates smoothly and efficiently. They analyze processes and procedures and determine if any changes or improvements are needed. They also evaluate problems and recommend solutions.

Working with other staff members is an important part of a management analyst's job. They may confer with other department heads or workers to understand procedures and problems. Another important part of the job is preparing reports and proposals.

Where you'll work: Management analysts work in manufacturing, technology, finance, and government offices. Some work as consultants that contract to other companies for special projects.

Project Manager

About the job: Project managers take the lead role in managing all phases of a project, including planning, budgeting, and managing resources and personnel. They must communicate with other managers or officers of the company, with suppliers or subcontractors, and with team members.

Project managers need to know how to analyze the needs of a project, plan a timetable, divide the project into manageable phases, delegate responsibilities, and meet specified goals. They must be equally adept at seeing the big picture and paying attention to details.

Where you'll work: Project managers can work in any industry but are commonly employed by technology companies, construction firms, and healthcare organizations. Some work as consultants to manage special projects for businesses.

What Can You Expect from your MBA Degree?

An MBA degree could give you a competitive edge for obtaining a leadership or management position. Many employers will look for an MBA on your resume along with your experience. The MBA will tell them you have studied analysis, economics, management, leadership, and communication. If you are currently employed, an MBA may help you work toward a promotion or higher-level position in the company.

Marco De Novellis, senior editor for Graduate Management Admission Council's BusinessBecause, a leading online publisher dedicated to graduate management education, and GMAC Media, recommends that before deciding to pursue an MBA, you take some time to plan your career trajectory.

"Have a clear post-MBA goal and have a clear idea of how an MBA can deliver those goals," De Novellis suggests.

What Types of MBA Programs are Available?

In the past, it wasn't unusual for people seeking an MBA to quit their jobs and attend a university business school full-time for two years. This still happens, especially for people attending the top-tier business schools. However, today you can choose from several types of MBA programs.

Part-time MBAs are designed for working adults. If you have five years of experience or more, you can take an executive MBA program either on-campus or online. The type you choose will determine how long it will take to complete. Part-time MBAs usually take two to three years to finish, but in an accelerated program, you could finish within 12 to 18 months. In a fully online MBA program, you could finish with 10 to 12 months in some cases.

Who Should Pursue an MBA?

People generally pursue an MBA for one of two reasons: to change careers or to accelerate a career, explains Michael Biarnes, manager of new products and business development at The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson.

The career pivoter is someone who has work experience but wants to go into a different type of work. The career accelerator is satisfied with their field but desires to push their career to a higher level. In some cases, an individual seeking an MBA wishes to break away from their present job and start up their own business.

While a few people enter an MBA program directly after earning their bachelor's degree, it's more common to work for a few years first, Biarnes says. "Having some experience goes a long way in studying for an MBA," he says. "It's a lot more impactful and meaningful when you have some experience."

Can an MBA Boost My Salary?

Employers typically look for both experience and education when hiring or promoting employees. Getting an MBA might qualify you for management-level jobs and could potentially positively impact your salary.


Written and reported by:

Karen S. Hanson
Contributing Writer

With professional insight from:

Marco De Novellis
Senior Editor, BusinessBecause and GMAC Media

Michael Biarnes
Manager, New Products & Business Development, The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson; Author of Redefining Success