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How to Change Careers With an MBA

Would you like to reinvent your career by changing industries or roles in your field? After completing an online Master of Business Administration program, you will have the knowledge and the tools you need for a career change.

By U.S. News estimates, two thirds of MBA graduates use the degree as a means to a career change. TransparentCareer data confirms these findings, revealing that 80 percent of incoming students express an interest in exploring, switching or pivoting to accelerate their careers. Upon graduation, 69 percent of MBAs actually do switch both industries and job functions.

Post-MBA career switching has led to an average 82 percent increase in wealth and a 58 percent increase in job happiness. The results make perfect sense when you consider what an MBA program can offer you.

Skills You Can Transfer to a New Career: In your current position, you have a finite set of opportunities to develop the abilities you will need to keep rising in the corporate ranks throughout your career. Employers value these flexible, executive-level skills, which can immediately help you to transfer across functions, departments and even industries:

Leadership: Leaders have the ability to organize groups of people, gain consensus and get them working efficiently toward a common goal. Effective leaders can manage in times of prosperity and crisis. An MBA program provides opportunities to improve leadership and team building through group projects, presentations, collaborative assignments and group problem-solving.

Team Building and Management: An extension of leadership, this involves managing from an operational, as well as a strategic perspective. It involves establishing objectives, coordinating and inspiring people, promoting teamwork, delegating responsibilities, resolving conflict, and evaluating performance.

Critical Thinking: Author Steve Siebold defines this as "the ability to remove all emotion from an issue and observe the facts objectively to make a logical decision." A structured thinking process helps professionals avoid jumping to the wrong conclusion and making poorly informed business decisions. Mentions of critical thinking in job postings have doubled since 2009, according to an analysis by Indeed.com.

Communication: MBA students learn interpersonal and public speaking skills that prepare them for a wide range of business scenarios. This includes conveying a vision to an entire company, making presentations at conferences, persuading superiors to approve a project, and even helping a subordinate overcome deficiencies.

Negotiation: The concept of negotiation permeates every aspect of business, whether you realize it or not. MBA students learn to negotiate the use of budgets, schedules, and resources in overt and nuanced ways.

Risk Management: Risk is a factor in every business decision, and success in business over the long term strongly correlates with the ability to accurately assess risk factors and make decisions that mitigate potential problems.

Technical/Computer: MBA courses also provide training in effective use of business software and related hardware. All business -- from agriculture to sales -- continues to be driven more and more by technology, so gaining these skills will make you more attractive across industries.

Organization and Time Management: How many projects can you commit to completing in a short time frame? Professionals without an MBA often struggle with this question. MBA students learn proven methods for making this assessment and learn to accomplish more in less time by being highly organized and optimizing limited resources.

Project Management: This involves being the lead responsible for seeing a project through to its successful completion. It requires managing people as well as processes and keeping many balls in the air at once.

Well-Rounded Business Knowledge: An MBA curriculum takes you beyond the learning limitations of your present industry and role. You will have the opportunity to explore the global economy and understand macro business concepts. You will learn the fundamentals of organizational structure and business planning. In addition, you will understand functional concepts in finance, marketing, accounting, operations, supply chain and business law.

An Opportunity to Transform Yourself: When you talk to MBA graduates who have changed careers, you will often hear that the experience of earning the degree was itself transformative. From the application process through graduation, you have opportunities to reflect on your career experiences, focus on professional development, and explore a variety of fields and functions in business. This can change your priorities, bringing new long-term career goals into focus.

A Professional Network: Online MBA students are challenged and supported by professors, accomplished business leaders, and peers from across the country and around the globe. Their interactions often lead to lifelong business relationships and even friendships. Deep into their careers, MBA graduates often reflect on how pivotal these connections were to their progress, proving the maxim that it is not always what you know that matters -- often, it is who you know.

Today's Hiring and Compensation Statistics

Demand for the training an MBA provides is strong, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) 2016 Year-End Poll of Employers:

  • 96 percent say hiring MBA graduates creates value for their companies.
  • 71 percent say recruiting MBA graduates is a priority in their hiring plans.
  • 56 percent say their companies are "expanding and growing."
  • 58 percent plan to increase starting salaries at or above the inflation rate.

Companies are paying MBA graduates well for the knowledge and skills they receive:

  • 82 percent say the degree increased their earning power (GMAC 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report).
  • Total compensation can range from $75,000 at the entry level to $440,000 in the C-suite (GMAC 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report).
  • At $101,000, the median annual wage for management occupations in May 2016 was the highest of all the major occupational groups (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • Starting salaries for MBAs begin at $52,000, climb to $78,000 with 5-9 years, and $99,000 with 10-19 years of experience (PayScale data as of February 2018).

Prepare for a Career Change

In a rapidly changing global economy, business professionals rarely remain in one business function or industry throughout their careers. Industries evolve, businesses adapt and smart professionals continually update their training to minimize the risk of becoming outmoded.

For being proactive, graduates of online MBA programs are often rewarded with more leadership opportunities, greater compensation and the satisfaction of knowing that whatever path they choose, they are in demand.

Learn more about the SOSU online MBA programs.

Sources:

Poets & Quants: MBAs Switching Careers at Massive Rates

The Wall Street Journal: Bosses Seek 'Critical Thinking,' But What Is That?

U.S. News & World Report: Use an M.B.A. to Change Careers

Graduate Management Admission Council: 2016 Year-End Poll of Employers

Graduate Management Admission Council: 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report

PayScale: Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree Average Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Management Occupations

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