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A Career Guide to Getting a Job With an MBA

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A master’s in business administration, also known as an MBA, can open up new doors for your career, especially on the managerial side. With an MBA, you’re marketable as an employee to a wide variety of businesses, which means that you’ll likely have plenty of employment prospects when you graduate. Plus, you can also use your online master’s in business degree to specialize in the type of role you want to work in, like healthcare or project management, which can further help your chances of landing the job you want in the field you choose.  

You aren’t just opening your career prospects up with this degree, though. You’re also increasing your chances of a high salary with an MBA. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2020 median pay for top executives — a position which generally requires you to have an MBA — was about $107,680. And, the job outlook for top executives is also projected to grow by 4% by 2029, which is as fast as the national average. 

These reasons alone are enough to prompt those who are interested in business or management to pursue an MBA. But what exactly is an MBA and how do you get a job once you’ve graduated with a master’s in business administration? The answers to your questions are below.   

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What is a Master’s in Business Administration?   

A master’s in business administration prepares you to effectively run a business by planning strategies and policies. For example, the University of Dubuque in Iowa offers an MBA program that prepares students to lead businesses through gaining a solid understanding of key skills. Students learn about finance, human resources, strategy, and operations in the program — all of which are necessary for management or executive employment in the business field.  

Business isn’t the only skill you’ll learn in these programs, though. Another interesting feature of MBA programs is that these programs will often prepare you to operate from a solid base of moral character by helping you to use your ethics and good character in decision-making. This is an especially important skill to have if you want to run a business both profitably and effectively.

Most MBA programs will also prepare you for different soft skills, like knowing how to communicate across a global business environment. These types of skills are useful in many capacities and in many business roles, from middle management to executive positions at Fortune 500 companies. Students also learn about strategic thinking that can help them navigate complex situations in the workplace.  

Some schools even offer different concentrations for MBA students. For instance, South New Hampshire University lists a few concentrations, including: 

  • General management 
  • International management 
  • Corporate strategy 
  • Finance 
  • Entrepreneurship 
  • Healthcare management 
  • Project management
  • Human resources
  • Business intelligence (working with big data) 
  • Operations and supply chain management

These concentrations can help you to further tailor your education to the type of role you’d like to obtain once you graduate. You can also find an online master’s degree in business that helps you specialize in different concentrations on your own schedule. 

What Does Someone with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration Do? 

According to the BLS, top executives help companies or organizations meet business goals by planning strategies and creating policies that are tailored to the needs of the company. They also manage direct work activities and employees. For example, with an MBA, a day on the job might entail:

  • Creating and implementing goals, procedures, and policies for the organization or a department 
  • Managing finances and budgets for the organization
  • Analyzing performance through sales reports, proprietary data, or financial statements
  • Managing marketing efforts
  • Looking for ways to cut costs and improve the performance of the company
  • Working with other people across the organization to handle general operations 
  • Handling contracts 
  • Hiring and promoting managers 

These job duties can differ depending on the size of the organization and the professional role or specialization of the individual. For instance, someone who has a degree with a business intelligence concentration might spend a significant amount of time looking over sales reports and financial statements to understand company performance. That would not be the case for someone whose degree focused on human resources. In those cases, the job duties would skew more toward people management.  

The Benefits of Getting a Master’s Degree in Business Administration  

The greatest perk of getting an MBA is that it helps with the job search or when looking to gain a promotion at your current job. Over a quarter of the top 100 CEOs that were ranked in a recent Harvard Business Review study held an MBA.  

Aside from the benefits during job search, there are benefits to the process of earning the degree, too. In addition to the in-depth focus on hard business skills like business strategy — some of which were mentioned above — many programs focus on helping you develop real-world experience. 

For instance, the University of Dubuque has students observe businesses and work on projects that mimic real-world scenarios. This program also allows working students to put their work projects toward their courses. A good online master’s in business might include real-world components like this, too — which can benefit you during your studies and in the future. 

Where Can I Work with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration?  

If you get an MBA, you can work in a wide variety of environments. According to the BLS, chief executives typically work in: 

  • Professional, scientific, and technical services
  • Government
  • Healthcare and social assistance 
  • Manufacturing 
  • Self employment 

Meanwhile, general and operations managers typically work in fields like:

  • Retail trade
  • Professional, scientific, and technical services
  • Wholesale trade
  • Manufacturing 
  • Construction 

That said, you certainly are not limited to jobs in these fields with your MBA. Managers work in almost every industry and for a wide variety of organizations and companies both large and small. 

Master’s in Business Administration Salaries  

The salary you earn with a master’s in business administration will depend highly on where you work, your level of experience, the position you obtain, and other factors. That said, it’s important to get an idea of what people with an MBA make on average. According to the BLS, common job titles and salaries for MBA holders include:

Who Should Pursue a Master’s in Business Administration?  

In general, an MBA is a degree for the highly ambitious who are planning to work in a business setting. An MBA, whether it’s an online business master’s or an in-person program, can set you up to run the high-level side of a business, like strategy and organizational planning. Those who like all aspects of running a business, from the big picture to analyzing detailed data, might enjoy MBA courses.

Getting an MBA often requires you to learn how to work with people in a local or global setting. Many MBA programs will also teach skills like the ethics involved in running a business. Those who want to combine an understanding of large scale business with a solid dose of humanity will want to look into programs that teach courses like business ethics.

Where Can You Earn a Degree in Master’s of Business Administration?  

This is a very popular degree, so most schools that offer graduate studies will also offer MBA programs. This includes small private schools and large public universities. Community colleges, however, will not offer graduate degrees like these, as they focus on workforce training programs and associates degree programs rather than bachelor or graduate programs. 

When it comes to larger universities, MBA programs are typically offered through a specific business department or college. You’ll need to inquire about whether the colleges you are interested in attending offer these types of programs and what specific focuses you can choose from to find the right fit for you.    

Can You Earn an Online Master’s in Business? 

This degree appeals to many people who are already working, which means that you’ll have access to online affordable MBA programs in addition to traditional options. That said, an online master’s degree in business can also be a good choice for those who just graduated with a bachelor’s degree and wish to finish their graduate degree while working. You can complete an online master’s in business in accordance with your own schedule if you choose to enroll in an online program.    An online MBA program can also be a great option for anyone who just needs the additional flexibility. Or, if you’re looking for a specific concentration that isn’t available to you locally in an MBA program, you may be able to find one online that would better fit your needs. This is especially useful for students who plan to go into niche fields or want to be highly specialized after graduation.

Michelle Honeyager picture

Michelle Honeyager

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Michelle Lovrine Honeyager is a freelance writer living in Southeast Wisconsin who covers education topics for Best Value Schools, Grad School Hub, and Criminal Justice Degree Schools, among others.

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