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Is the MBA Worth it?

Once the preserve of the business school elites and an essential qualification for boardroom execs and finance high-flyers, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a postgraduate degree with serious global recognition. With more and more applications to Business Schools each year, an MBA is touted as a passport to professional power; a springboard to success.

Let’s weigh up the MBA pros & cons…

But they’re far from cheap. Studying for an Executive MBA – the label of corporate mastery – in London can cost upwards of £50,000, making them a hefty investment in anybody’s career. In addition to tuition and living costs, the high-entry requirements and challenging content make them a serious dedication for the one to two years they take to complete.

Yet despite the price tag, the rewards on obtaining this qualification are equally sizeable. MBA graduates reach the top the pile when it comes to employability and salaries. An MBA on top of professional experience can qualify you for high-level business jobs and the potential for executive incomes to match.

That’s not to say that having an MBA is a guarantee of securing a lucrative position. The graduate job market remains tight, and many employers value real work experience over and above qualifications. With this in mind, have a realistic and pragmatic approach to postgraduate qualifications. If you do decide to take the plunge, it goes without saying that it’s worth doing proper research into the costs as well as your specific career ambitions before you enrol.

If you’re from not a traditional finance background but are interested in pursuing a career in business, having an MBA can be a great way to switch directions if you already have a degree and some relevant experience. This is especially true of people with transferrable quantitative or analytical skills who want to bring their niche academic knowledge into the corporate world.

Those with undergraduate degrees in science or maths for example can use the MBA as a way to gain technical skills that help them advance to a more senior level in their chosen career path.

What’s more, the lessons of leadership and problem-solving learned in an MBA course are not just relevant to the corporate world. There are plenty of careers in which having an MBA can prove a worthy addition to your skillset. Entrepreneurs will benefit from the business savvy and people management picked up as a Master of Business Administration and the responsibilities involved in running an organisation.

It’s not your only option…

The MBA isn’t the only qualification out there that will enable you to reach decision-making status in a big organisation. Chartered managerial and administrative diplomas are readily available to study in the UK, and will in many cases provide you with identical skills in business and leadership. Likewise, if your interests lie in specific areas in business administration such as accounting or marketing, then studying for these individual qualifications could be more beneficial than the all-round of the MBA.

If after all your research, you’re still sure that the MBA is your most suitable option for your career ambitions and you know what you’re getting yourself into, then it cann be an undeniably fantastic way to gain overall business expertise. As well as boosting practical skills in leadership and management, the versatility of the degree can be applied to an infinite number of sectors with global reach and recognition.

Ultimately, it’s all about getting a good return on your investment. Promotions and pay rises still have to be earned, MBA or not. Unless you’re ready to make the effort and put the skills you learn to work, you could easily find yourself in an identical position post-MBA, only with more debt. Getting an extra qualification simply for the credentials isn’t good business sense. Make sure your reasons for doing the qualification are clear before you start out, and be realistic about your prospects.

By Nile Davies, AllAboutFinanceCareers.com