A Master of Business Administration (MBA) can act as a key that helps students unlock high levels of success across all industries. An MBA program prepares ambitious individuals with the skills and knowledge needed for success within management and leadership roles, and it could help them carve out an easier path for advancement. While these are fundamental benefits of earning an MBA, they skip over one question: What can you do with an MBA?
The answer? Plenty. Those earning an MBA can find it to be a stepping stone to success in a wide range of industries, including finance, human resources, marketing, and accounting. The skills gained through an accredited MBA program can also prepare students for a fulfilling administrative or management career in prestigious industries such as aerospace and healthcare. It may even provide students with the type of leverage needed to pursue entrepreneurship.
Earning an MBA tailored to your interests
Students can earn a general MBA degree; however, those who wish to use the degree as a springboard to distinguish their talent can focus their MBA degree toward a particular concentration. Doing so can not only equip students with essential skills that can help fuel a satisfying career in a high-level position in the business world; it can also prepare students to obtain any licensing or certification that may be required for advanced work in a particular field.
Some of the concentration studies offered by accredited universities include the following:
- Marketing. This field is the engine that drives the power of business. From sales to customer engagement, marketing governs the elements within a company that draw the fine line between success and failure. An MBA concentration in marketing equips students with a deep understanding of this essential business component and all of its evolving parts, from the analysis of consumer trends and integrated communication strategies to modern aspects, such as SEO and social networking. Students build this understanding through the refinement of key skills, such as communication, analytical thinking, and creativity. These skills can be essential components in several high-ranking leadership positions in the marketing field, from public relations and fundraising manager to market research analyst.
- Accounting.There’s more to accounting than crunching numbers. Those in the field are the stewards of financial information, whose knowledge of economics, taxes, and how both correlate with corporate finance can provide companies vital information for their growth strategies. An MBA concentration in accounting can sharpen the analytical and organizational skills that are critical for success, but it can also prepare students to pursue and obtain the title of Certified Public Accountant (CPA). This certification can grant students access to explore high-level accounting roles, such as chief financial officer and certified public accountant.
- Cyber Security. The internet has revolutionized the way business is done. It also has radically changed the concept of business security. Those who enter the job market as cyber security experts are at the forefront of this concept, as they are charged with keeping vital information private and safe from online criminal behavior. An MBA concentration in cyber security can hone the analytical and critical thinking skills essential for optimal performance in the field, but it can also prepare students to efficiently understand and implement new standards, practices, and methodologies that arise with new and evolving technologies. An accredited MBA concentration can also prepare students to obtain advanced certifications, such as Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). Completing the program can lead to a career on both ends of the security spectrum, from information security analyst to software developer.
- Financial Services. Those in the financial services field can act as stabilizing forces in the perpetual ebb and flow of investing. They’re called upon to not only make sense of current market conditions but also plot strategies that businesses can use to navigate the financial landscape of the future. An MBA concentration in financial services helps students sharpen such important financial skills as data analysis and problem solving. The degree can also hone equally important interpersonal skills, such as communication, which allows professionals to explain complex financial terms to individuals without an advanced financial background. An accredited MBA curriculum can also prepare students to take the Series 7 exam, an essential step for obtaining necessary licenses. Once obtained, this licensing can open the door to a host of high-ranking positions in the finance world, such as financial manager or financial analyst.
- Human Resource Management. People in the human resources field are more than the “face” of corporate policy. They keep businesses balanced during times of fluctuation, giving them the freedom to focus on success. Completing an MBA concentration in human resource management can equip students with the organizational, interpersonal, and decision-making skills needed to properly execute and explain company policies. It can also prepare students to obtain the Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification. Ultimately, concentrating in human resource management can lead to high-level positions, such as human resources manager and compensation and benefits manager, which are available in a wide array of industries.
- Project Management. Successful businesses are built one project at a time. Project managers oversee these critical building blocks from start to finish, and their ability to provide guidance in their development and execution can transcend several industries. Completing an MBA with a project management concentration can sharpen the analytical, communication, and leadership skills that form the foundation for success in the field. It can also prepare students to obtain the Project Management Professional (PMP) credential. Obtaining both the degree and the credential can lead to a career as a project management director in multiple industries. These qualifications can also lead to focused positions within a specific industry, such as architectural or engineering manager.
- General Management. Great leadership is essential to business success. It’s also something that can be curated for optimal effectiveness. Obtaining an MBA with a general management concentration can refine the skills needed to become effective managers, such as problem solving, communication, and time management. This concentration may allow students to shape their educational paths by providing the option to study courses in other concentrations, a tactic that can allow them to tailor their skill sets to fit their own management styles. Completing this curriculum could lead to a wide range of high-level management positions, such as sales manager and industrial production manager.
- Health Administration. Pursuing a career in health administration can play a big part in keeping the business of healthcare healthy. It’s a profession with significant impact, since a well-run medical outlet can lead to healthier patients. Completing an MBA with a health administration concentration can be a vital step toward achieving success in this critical field. Doing so strengthens the type of communication and problem-solving skills needed to cultivate strong leadership qualities. This well-developed skill set can lead to a career as a hospital administrator or even top-level positions, such as chief healthcare executive.
- Information Technology. Modern business needs information technology to survive, let alone thrive. Earning an MBA with an IT concentration can turn tech-savvy individuals into important leaders, as the combination of their intimate knowledge of systematic technology and their keen insight into business operations can allow a company to remain at the cutting edge of its industry. An MBA with an IT concentration can help marry strong problem-solving and analytical skills to refined interpersonal and leadership skills, which can prepare students to view IT from a long-term business perspective. This skill set can fuel their climb to several high-ranking positions, such as computer network architect.
Industries Hiring MBA Graduates
In the eyes of many businesses, a person with an MBA carries significantly more value than a person without one. As such, MBA graduates can find high-level career opportunities across several industries.
Some of the industries hiring MBA graduates include:
- Government agencies
- Various products and service industries
Future Career Paths for MBA Graduates
Earning an MBA doesn’t mean instant employment or eligibility for employment in a certain field. Graduates may also need licensing and certifications to fully harness the power of an MBA. That said, the degree’s appearance on a resume can set graduates apart from their competition. The skills and competencies learned from an MBA concentration curriculum can also be a substantial asset for those looking to advance their careers in a broad spectrum of fields.
- Administrative Services Manager. Earning a general MBA can lead to a successful career as an administrative services manager. Those in this high-level position typically work in an office setting, where they oversee a company’s supportive and administrative operations, from the planning stage to execution. This function can range from facility management and maintenance to recordkeeping. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2017 median pay for this position was around $94,000 a year. BLS also projects a 10 percent job growth in the field by 2026.
- Certified Public Accountant. Obtaining an MBA with an accounting concentration and earning the title of CPA can enable graduates to launch a successful career as a certified public accountant. CPAs are charged with the analysis, maintenance, and interpretation of financial records, from audits to tax return preparation. Most CPAs work independently, although some work for a company in an office setting. The median annual salary for CPAs is around $69,300, per BLS, which also projects the job market to grow by 10 percent by 2026.
- Information Security Analyst. Information security analysts, a position that could be available to those who complete an MBA with a cyber security concentration, plot and execute various security measures designed to protect an organization’s systems, networks, and technology infrastructure. While they typically work in an office setting, they may sometimes have to be on call to respond to emergencies. This important position typically comes with a high wage: BLS reports the median wage for information security analysts is around $95,500 per year. The occupation is poised to enjoy exponential growth — 28 percent by 2026, per BLS.
- Financial Manager. Completing an MBA with a financial services concentration could open the door for a successful career as a financial manager, a profession defined by overseeing the financial vitality of an organization. Those in this position work with key company executives to guide and manage corporate economic health through the curation of financial reports, the direction of investment activities, and the development of key long-term corporate financial goals. According to BLS, the median pay for this critical top-level position is approximately $125,000 per year. BLS also projects a 19 percent growth in financial manager jobs by 2026, a growth that’s significantly larger than the projected average for all occupations.
- Marketing Manager. Entering the role of marketing manager can allow MBA graduates who concentrated in marketing to be a company’s engine of public influence. Marketing managers often work with staff heads, art directors, and advertising sales agents to develop economically feasible strategies for a company and its products to penetrate public consciousness in a positive manner. They can also oversee the development and execution of various methods of public outreach. The average annual salary in this high-pressure, high-reward position is about $129,000 a year, per BLS, which also projects a 10 percent growth in the field by 2026.
- Human Resources Manager. A human resources manager is charged with overseeing the administrative functions that keep a company humming along. The position, which can be obtained by those who complete a human resource management MBA curriculum, typically governs a company’s practical elements, such as recruiting, hiring, benefits, and corporate policy, and HR managers often act as the liaison between a company’s corporate structure and its employees. According to BLS, the median pay for a human resources manager is approximately $110,000 per year. BLS also reports a 9 percent projected growth between now and 2026.
- Project Manager. MBA graduates who concentrated in project management can oversee the coordination and execution of a wide range of large-scale activities over a broad spectrum of industries. One of the best examples of this management scope is the role of architectural and engineering managers, who apply their planning and direction skills within an architectural and engineering company. This high-level position can also be defined by other key duties, such as creating budget proposals, staff supervision, and safety coordination. According to BLS, the median annual pay for this occupation is approximately $137,700, and BLS also projects a job growth of 6 percent by 2026.
- General Manager. One of the most competitive fields those who complete an MBA with a concentration in general management can enter is industrial production management. Industrial production managers are typically charged with overseeing the day-to-day operations of manufacturing plants and other related facilities across a wide array of industries, from automotive to computer equipment. They may also be responsible for hiring, training, and evaluating reporting workers. BLS reports the median annual salary for industrial production managers is around $100,000.
- Healthcare Administrator. Obtaining an MBA with a health administration concentration can place graduates at the forefront of the ever-evolving field of healthcare. This may be best exemplified in the role of chief healthcare executive, a high-level position charged with providing leadership in a volatile industry. Those in this position coordinate health services through the management of others, a scope that can range from a medical practice to an entire facility. They must also keep abreast of constantly fluctuating healthcare laws, regulations, and technology. The median annual pay for health administrators, according to BLS, is around $98,000. This occupation is also projected to experience a 20 percent growth by 2026, a projection that is much greater in comparison with the average occupation.
- Information Technology Professional. Those looking to forge a high-level path in IT can use their MBA with an IT concentration to land a position as a computer network architect. These architects oversee a company’s central nervous system, as they design and build a wide range of company-wide data communication networks. When they aren’t working in a company’s server room, managing and troubleshooting the corporate network, computer network architects are working with other high-ranking company officials to ensure their networks are aligning with an organization’s long-term growth metrics. According to BLS, the median pay for computer network architects is around $104,000, and BLS also projects a 6 percent job growth in the occupation by 2026.
MBAs and Senior Leadership Positions
Regardless of concentration, an MBA can prepare graduates to potentially flourish in high-level positions of leadership. While this may translate to management positions at first, these titles could pave the way for achieving long-term professional success as a top executive.
Many top executives possess MBAs, and they can often rely on the skills curated through an MBA curriculum, such as critical thinking and problem solving, to devise strategies to reach corporate goals. They can also use their communication skills to relate this information to others in a way that conveys strong leadership.
Some of the top executive positions include:
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO). This position, sometimes known as an executive director, provides overarching direction to a company to reach long-term corporate goals. A CEO often functions as the primary leader in a corporate structure.
- Chief Operating Officer (COO). This position is charged with overseeing the day-to-day administrative operations of a company. COOs are typically considered “second in command” in the corporate hierarchy.
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO). This position is responsible for overseeing a company’s financial activities, from financial planning and analysis to tracking cash flow. CFOs typically oversee a company’s finance and accounting departments. This top executive position may be relevant to MBA graduates who concentrated in financial services or accounting.
- Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). Also known as a marketing director, a chief marketing officer is charged with governing a company’s marketing activities. A CMO can also be charged with overseeing the corporate components that interact with the general public, such as customer service. Those earning an MBA with a marketing concentration may be interested in pursuing this executive career path.
- Chief Technology Officer (CTO). This position is charged with overseeing a company’s technological needs. In some cases, a CTO can also be responsible for overseeing a company’s research and development metrics. This executive position may be of particular interest to those who obtain an MBA with a cyber security or information technology concentration.
According to BLS, the median pay for top executives is approximately $104,000 per year. BLS also projects an 8 percent growth in the occupation by 2026.
Associations for MBA Holders to Join
Earning an MBA can do more than provide graduates with the tools they can potentially use to obtain high levels of success. It can also connect them with an exclusive fraternity of professionals that can provide the connections that can be critical to reaching long-term goals. Often, this benefit manifests in the form of various associations or groups who aim to establish and nurture these powerful connections.
Some of the more prominent MBA-related associations include:
Learn More about Maryville University’s Online Master’s in Business Administration
What can you do with an MBA? Plenty. Obtaining this degree, particularly with a specific concentration, can be the first step toward a rewarding high-level career that can play directly into a graduate’s main interests. The skills cultivated by an MBA degree, coupled with the reverence the degree routinely commands, provide a critical advantage to graduates, one that could be parlayed into a role of well-respected leadership and influence.
Learn more about how Maryville University’s online Master of Business Administration program helps to prepare students for the rapidly changing modern business landscape.