The Value of an MBA

In difficult economic times, going back to school to build new skills — and make yourself more attractive to future employers — becomes extremely popular, even for people with full-time jobs. MBAs are especially popular since the degree is usually meant to prepare someone for more advanced, leadership roles in business (or even government). But is an MBA degree worth the extra years of schooling — especially when you could be spending that time working full-time?

At first glance, the numbers show that the answer is a definite yes. A recent survey of accounting/financial workers of varying skill and seniority levels found that CFOs without a degree had an average salary of only $38,920, those with a Bachelor’s Degree earned $88,836, and MBAs earned an average of $104,284. The return on investment for an MBA certainly seems worthwhile.

Factors to Keep in Mind while considering an MBA

There are some other factors to consider, though. For instance, nearly any advanced degree will earn you more money over the long haul — MBAs are not unique in that regard. So the question then becomes whether an MBA is the degree you really need. Perhaps your skills and goals would be better served by earning a CPA or just a financial planning certification. Money isn’t everything — first and foremost, look at the skills you want to develop and the career goals you’ve set.

Another thing to remember is that the salary figures quoted above are fairly flexible and can vary widely based on a number of factors. For instance, the type of work you’re going into can make a huge difference; consulting jobs will often pay more than finance/accounting jobs, though each could have a different compensation/bonus structure. Your previous experience also speaks volumes. If you’re fresh out of business school and go hunting for an investment banking job after years in a marketing firm, odds are good that your starting salary will be lower than someone with greater comparable experience.

A Mountain of MBA Potential

The numbers are still very persuasive. Statistics from the Graduate Management Admissions Council (the folks who administer the GMAT) show that in many cases someone’s pre- and post-MBA salary can jump 50% or more. For example, someone working in marketing making an average of $42,000 before getting their MBA can make an average of $80,000 after receiving their degree. That’s nearly doubling your money!

An MBA may not be equal to a lottery ticket, but the odds are good that your earnings will increase after earning your degree — making those extra years of school worthwhile. Just be sure that you’re pursuing the right degree for the right reasons and, of course, good luck with that graduate school application!