A good time to enroll in an MBA program is when you’re at a point in your career when the MBA is essential for taking your career to the next level. For the college undergraduate, going straight from college to an MBA program might not necessarily be the right move. Experience counts, and top-level programs will not even admit you if you don’t have at least a few years of experience in your profession.
For the professional who’s job-seeking, the question about acquiring an MBA involves how as much as when. Many keep working while earning an MBA in a part-time program. Others have the financial resources to quit their jobs and go to school full-time. Sometimes, your current employer will even help finance your MBA. Whatever the case, following the current trends reported in magazines such as Business Week, Success, and US News and World Report will help you decide if an MBA is right for you.
Of course, you’ll also need to decide which type of MBA program will interest you the most. You can acquire a general MBA, which typically takes less time, or a specialized MBA, which might take longer to get but make you more marketable. In any MBA program, the core topics you’ll encounter include:
- Quantitative analysis
- Organizational behavior
If you’re primarily concerned with increasing your paycheck, going back to school to get an MBA will probably prove to be a good choice. Ongoing research at the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has found that three factors affect MBA salaries the most:
- Preexisting salary
- Function of employer
- Number of people managed (pre-MBA)
It’s widely known that consulting firms and the healthcare industry pay the highest salaries to MBAs fresh out of school. GMAC’s data in a 2004 report shows that graduates working in consulting earned a median salary of $95,000, and those in healthcare earned a median of $80,000. GMAC’s 2004 Global MBA Graduate Survey reported that typical MBA grads can “expect a 35% increase form their pre-MBA salary (to $76,000 from $56,000).” Results from GMAC’s Corporate Recruiters Survey of 2004-2005 show that most MBA graduates can expect to earn “a salary premium of 28% [more than] graduates from other graduate programs and 71% [more than] new hires from undergraduate programs.” You also have to factor in the cost as well, as the average cost of MBA graduate study can easily exceed $30,000.
Over the course of your MBA studies, you and your colleagues will form bonds that will last throughout your lifetime, the outcome being the ability to “speak the same language.” This network will prove fruitful throughout your working life. Your colleagues will be from all corners of the world and from all walks of life.
Finally, the things that will inspire you throughout an MBA program are the professional business environment, the speed at which you absorb new topics, and all of the creativity surrounding you. And ultimately, the education you receive will be strategically advantageous in your business life, and beyond.