As an engineering professional, you appreciate the value of a good education. For example, you wouldn’t be able to perform your basic daily job tasks without your solid background in maths and science. And, studying for an advanced degree adds further value; allowing you to build on your intricate knowledge of engineering and the finer points of the field that’s necessary to obtain most positions.
However, as an engineer, is an MBA worth it? Is it a valuable career move worth the investment or not? It’s no secret that college recruiters and advertisements love to talk about the value of getting an MBA, but when your career is in engineering, the path might not be very clear. Graduate degrees in the engineering field are directly applicable to your chosen career route, while on the other hand, the MBA and the subject matter of the degree might seem completely unrelated.
Most MBA programs only tend to accept candidates that have years of business-related career experience, meaning that candidates need to either pursue a part-time degree or get years of business-related work. Either way, anyone considering pursuing an MBA needs to feel confident that their hard-earned qualification at the end is going to provide a decent return on investment.
You might have more questions than answers at the moment if you’re wondering whether pursuing an MBA as an engineer is worthwhile. We’ve put together some of the pros and cons of getting an MBA as an engineer, which might help you shed some light on the situation and come to a more informed decision regarding whether or not it’s the right route for you to take.
The Pros of Studying an MBA
Even if your career is in engineering, there are plenty of pros to studying for an MBA. Combining your extensive engineering knowledge with business knowledge will further your career opportunities more and could even lead to you laying a solid foundation on which to start your own company, which can be very useful if you are considering using your engineering knowledge to develop a product and sell it. Click here to learn more about why you should get an MBA after engineering from a school like Aston University Online. Some more pros to consider include:
1. The Value of Studying Business
Getting an MBA as an engineer might feel like you’re learning to speak a second language. As an engineer, you undoubtedly have great problem-solving abilities and you’re a very practical kind of person. Combine this with a solid understanding of business, and you’re a c-suite’s dream.
For every one hundred hands-on, down-in-the-trenches type of engineer, there’s a need for somebody with good management skills who can successfully guide the business activities of an engineering firm thanks to a strong knowledge of both worlds.
2. Promotion Opportunities
If you hope to continue working at your current engineering company and want to climb your way up the career ladder and into management, getting an MBA could be just the ticket that you need. There’s no denying that managers who have a background in and a strong knowledge of engineering are better equipped to oversee other engineers than anybody else. Studying for an MBA will lead to:
- Functional leadership skills that can help you move out of the practical side of things and into the office.
- Marketing skills that can help you move into a career overseeing the marketing and promotion of the company that you work for, or promote your own company if you decide to develop a product and start your own business.
- An innate understanding of the business side of things in the company that you work for, which will put you head and shoulders above your colleagues when it comes to promotional opportunities.
Some companies may even provide scholarships or tuition paid opportunities for the top engineers who’re considering studying advanced education courses outside of work. So, be sure to speak to your employer if your motivation for considering an MBA is because you hope to be in with a chance of getting promoted in the future, or moving away from the hands-on work and into the office.
3. Switching Careers
There’s no denying that an MBA can be massively beneficial in a wide range of career fields, including engineering. But that being said, the value of getting one to an engineer can be limited, especially if you want to stay in your chosen field. However, it can have potentially massive value to you if you want to move up into management in engineering, start your own business, or switch careers completely.
If you’ve decided that an entirely different profession is your calling, an MBA can help you switch careers faster. Most employers will be sceptical of taking on a candidate whose CV is based around one particular role or profession if the role they are hiring for is completely different – and most of us can understand why. Getting an MBA can help you:
- Demonstrate that you are committed to switching careers and serious about what you want to do.
- Show that you are the kind of person who sees things through and is willing to be committed to potentially years of work when needed.
- Have an advanced degree to back up your decision to switch careers and give future employers peace of mind that this is not some kind of knee-jerk decision for you.
If you’re looking to get into a field like analytics, accounting, finance, business management, or even entrepreneurship, an MBA could provide you with the foundation that you need to help you make that transition or land your dream job position.
Cons of getting MBA as an engineer
What about the downside of getting an MBA as an engineer? While there are plenty of benefits to be had, it’s worth considering the disadvantages and weighing it all up from a balanced position.
1. It Can Cost a Lot
Any kind of advanced education has the potential to be expensive, and the MBA is certainly no different. The option of a graduate degree loan can be helpful but bear in mind that this is going to be additional student finance debt that you’ll have to repay in the future on top of any other student finance debt you have from studying your engineering degree and master’s degree if you have one.
And the cost of studying for your MBA doesn’t stop at the tuition fees. You should also consider the cost of:
- Relocating to be closer to your chosen university or business school, if necessary
- Commuting to classes and lectures, unless you choose to study online
- Time taken off work or reduced hours to allow for studying and attending classes
- If studying online, the cost of any new equipment or technology that you will require
2. It Doesn’t Necessarily Always Lead to Management Positions
When it comes to getting management and leadership positions, bear in mind that experience, rather than education, tends to be the primary concern for recruiters. So, don’t dive into investing your time and money into an MBA thinking that it’s going to be the golden ticket to management; this might not always be the case. There’s always the chance that another candidate who doesn’t hold an MBA but holds extensive years of experience in management that you don’t have will be chosen instead.
Plus, having an MBA might even make you appear unattractive to some employers:
- Some employers look at inexperienced MBA holders and assume that they will be expensive to hire and would prefer to invest their money into somebody with real-world knowledge and experience.
- There’s often a great deal of bias towards those with MBAs in the start-up world particularly.
- You will need to back up your qualification with creative thinking and innovative ideas; draw on your engineering experience rather than relying solely on your degree if you want to use it to move up the career ladder into management, or switch careers into a more business-centric position.
3. Not All MBAs are Created Equally
If you’re considering earning an MBA in order to improve your value with your current employer, bear in mind that the institution you study with might not matter as much, compared to if you were considering getting an advanced business degree in order to switch careers or move to a different company. Before you begin:
- Verify that the university or business school you plan to attend is accredited.
- Check the reputation of the institution you plan to study with.
- Consider whether you are pursuing an MBA to help you move up the ranks at your current place of employment, or whether you want to find a different employer or switch careers completely.
If you are considering an MBA in order to switch companies – for example, if you want to work in an engineering-management position for a Fortune 500 company, or you’re considering switching industries completely into finance, management or accounting – it’s worth investing more into an MBA from a top tier institution.
So, what’s the bottom line?
For engineers, the question of whether or not an MBA is worth it is that it depends on what you want to use it for. Consider your personal situation and goals, and weigh up the pros and cons to determine if it’s the right move for you.