Should you get an MBA? It’s a really big question for a number of reasons:
An MBA is expensive, so naturally anyone who has one is going to defend their investment. Anyone who wants one is going to have to find a way to pay for it.
The MBA has a neutral reputation - people who have one put the letters after their name, sure… But people who don’t have those letters after their name are never actually judged by it. There are many with an MBA that won’t put the letters after their name. The letters just don’t seem to have the same caché as say a PhD or LLB.
The MBA is education - and education is considered by most to be essential to success in business. Though there are countless highly successful business people without an MBA. In fact, some of the richest in business don’t even have a high school degree.
It is no wonder that when it comes time to decide if you should get an MBA, the question begs for deeper clarification.
I got my MBA because I wanted to be in business, and I didn’t know much about business. I needed to learn the basics. With an undergraduate degree in Music and Math, there was a lot that needed learning!
We all have our own reasons for pursuing higher education. In my experience, there are really only 3 reasons that you might absolutely NEED to have an MBA. Here are the no-brainer reasons you’d say YES to an MBA:
1) Your Dream Job Requires a masters degree: There are certain careers where the barriers to entry are virtual stone walls without an MBA. If you want to be an Investment Banker, then go get yourself an MBA. Your investment will be paid back very quickly if you are well suited to this career. If there are large populations of people in your dream job who don’t have MBAs, then you’ll want to think twice before making the investment.
2) You Want to be in Business, and Have No Knowledge of Business: If you plan to have a career in business but you spent your undergraduate and post-graduate years in the arts, then an MBA may be a very good option for you. Whether you want to go into marketing, general management, or start your own business, the fundamental skills that you learn in business school will be extremely helpful to you. You will also make lifelong connections that could be beneficial to your business in the future.
3) You Can’t Live without Learning: Some people just love to learn, and they learn best in academic environments. If you are a wired-academic, and you want to be a business academic, then an MBA is a perfectly reasonable option. There are many thought leaders in the world who consult and coach businesses based on their academic profession. These can be very lucrative careers.
So, if these are the no-brainer reasons to say yes to an MBA, are there some reasons you might choose not to pursue one?
Do not think you need an MBA if you already have a business education and you’re just plain impatient. An MBA will not accelerate your career. Experience and maturity are your only hope for accelerated success. Figure out the real reasons you are being left behind, and learn to overcome those. Just like money won’t buy you love, an MBA won’t necessarily buy you an immediate promotion.