MBA: Is It Worth the Investment?

Is An MBA Worth It?
A Master’s in Business Administration … is it worth the time and financial investment? The answer to that question is both yes and no. While that answer is murky, it is also very sound. Here’s why an MBA program might or might not work well for you.

Will You Earn More?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median difference in earnings between a worker with a Bachelor’s degree and one with a Master’s degree was $12,000 for 2013.

But not every job that you hold will pay you an additional $12K per year just because you have an MBA. For those jobs that don’t, an MBA is not worth the time, labor, and financial investment – unless you’re using the MBA as a stepping stone to a job that does pay better. The BLS indicated that the median wage for a person with a Master’s degree in 2013 was $68,000 per year.

In Some Industries, an MBA can Pay Very Well

The hottest industries for MBA grads are business, finance, and sales. In the securities and commodities job sector, the median wage earned by an MBA was $170,000 … $80,000 more than someone with a Bachelor’s degree. In other areas …

  • Financial Managers – In 2013, according to the BLS, financial managers earned a median wage of $110,000 or $32,000 more than with only a Bachelor’s degree
  • Logistics – MBAs earn a median wage of $82,000, $28,000 more than a Bachelor’s degree
  • Transportation – The transportation industry paid a $90,000 annual median wage with a Master’s degree, $28,000 more than a Bachelor’s
  • Market Research – MBAs earned a median wage of $90,000 or $25,000 more than Bachelor’s

Good Reasons to Get Your MBA

For some industries, you earn more with an MBA. While MBA degrees do not always pay you more, they do open the door for careers in industries where MBA degrees do pay more.

Consider that your earnings over your lifetime are usually your biggest asset. Can an MBA help you earn more? Yes, if you have a job in an industry that recognizes and values an MBA degree. What that means is that you can earn more over the course of your working lifetime, which means you have more control in managing your career so that you do earn more.

A side benefit is that MBA holders tend to stick together, giving you more opportunities simply by building a bigger network of people like yourself who have an MBA degree. More opportunities mean better access to jobs that do pay more.

Not Every Job Needs an MBA

If you are a middle manager in a retail store, chances are you are not going to see much of an increase in your annual salary just because you have an MBA. Likewise, if you are a general manager of a chain store, you are not likely to see much of an improvement in earnings because you have an MBA.

One reason some jobs aren’t as lucrative for an MBA is that the skill set required doesn’t employ advanced business skills. A competent employee with a Bachelor’s degree can do those jobs just fine. To make an MBA degree excel requires a position where advanced business skills are essential. An MBA can also be a big help is in emerging industries where highly developed analytical skills are needed.

Bottom line: Is an MBA worth it? Yes, but you must go after the jobs that make this degree worthwhile.

This is part of a series of informational articles for working adults who are considering a master’s degree. We kicked things off last week with MBA and will follow with articles about master’s in accounting, education, public administration, higher education administration, and counseling & human services. Next week’s article is MBA Program Comparison: Which Type of MBA is Best for You?

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