Many engineers today find themselves facing an important question: should I further my career by studying for an MBA? Recent statistics show that almost one third of employers nationwide are increasing the educational requirements necessary for new employees. And, as both engineers and engineering students look for a graduate program that is most suited to their future career goals, many are opting for an MBA to increase their business acumen while gaining a skill set that’s absolutely essential for future entrepreneurs, managers, and executives.
An undergraduate degree in engineering already means that you are an attractive employee; more and more companies are seeking out people with technical backgrounds who are able to understand and solve complex problems. However, adding an advanced degree to your resume will give you even more of a competitive edge. Gaining an MBA will help you expand your insight and understanding of the business side of an industry, while providing you with the necessary knowledge and technical skills to reach your full career potential, differentiating you from the rest of the workforce. So is getting an MBA as an engineer worth it? We think so, but here are some further reasons to explore.
#1. The value of studying business:
Studying for an MBA might not be a natural step in progression for all engineering students, but it can offer a lot of value even to those in a seemingly unrelated field. Getting an MBA as an engineer can often feel like learning to speak another language – you may be practical and great at problem solving, but when you add that to a deeper understanding of business, you’re on to a winner.
Often, the largest benefit of being an engineer who’s achieved an MBA is that you’ll be able to think like an engineer and apply this to the language of business. And, if you hope to end up working in a position where you’ll be required to work with budgets and financial forecasting, this type of graduate-level business education can be truly advantageous.
#2. More promotional opportunities:
If you’re currently working at an engineering-focused company and are hoping to stay on whilst propelling yourself into a management career, your MBA could be a golden ticket. Managers with a background in this field are far more equipped to manage and oversee other engineers, and the functional leadership skills that you will gain from getting an MBA can help you move out of the workforce and into that corner office. And the marketing skills that you will pick up while studying for an MBA, coupled with a good working knowledge and understanding of the business side of the company that you work for, can certainly lead to several better promotional opportunities. In fact, certain companies may even provide scholarship opportunities for top talent or fund their employees to go on programs like this online engineering MBA.
#3. Get the right degree at the right time:
Many candidates for advanced degree programs like MBAs tend to enroll due to a poor job market. When there are few to no great opportunities in the field thanks to financial instabilities or downsizes, continuing your studies can be a great idea – not to mention that extending your educational career allows you to defer student loans for the time being. There are often times where this opportunistic way of thinking may benefit you – if your industry is on the verge of a breakthrough or you’ve been seeing a lack of advanced management experience amongst your peers, working to obtain an MBA as an engineer could be your door to success. However, approach with caution – if you’re trying to take advantage of the market or are considering an individual company, jumping immediately from college to an MBA program might not be the best plan. It is usually more beneficial for those with an education in engineering to enter the job market first and postpone pursuing an MBA until the timing is right. This will give you some extra time to weigh up your career decisions.
#4. Switch careers:
Although gaining an MBA can be hugely beneficial to those working in a vast range of career fields, it must be noted that its value to an engineer can be limited. However, if you’re an engineer who has decided that your true calling is in an entirely different field, studying for an MBA can be very useful. Many employers will respect the commitment needed to switch tracks and back it up with an advanced degree – it proves that you’re truly serious about your career path switch. And, if you’re an engineer who’s looking to get into fields such as finance, accounting, analytics, consulting, or high value real estate, an MBA could be just what you need to make the transition from engineering and land the job of your dreams.
#5. So… is getting an MBA as an engineer worth it?
The bottom line answer for the question of whether or not getting an MBA is worth the cost and effort for engineers is that it depends on what you’re planning to do with it. If you are hoping to expand your career, move further up the ranks into management positions in an engineering-centric company, or even start your own business in the engineering industry, then an MBA will provide you with the business acumen, skills, and knowledge necessary for success. If your current or future job will require managing a budget or financial forecasting, an MBA can certainly come in handy for engineers. It’s also worth looking into if your employer offers funding for obtaining advanced degrees and you are looking to move into a managerial or C-suite position. Get an MBA if you are looking to switch careers – particularly if you want to move completely away from engineering.
On the other hand, it may not be the right choice for you if you’d prefer to stay working on the tasks you currently perform at work, are unsure about getting into more student debt, or want to remain working with a traditional engineering firm.