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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.

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, the Prospective Students Survey for 2021 reports that 26% of MBA candidates plan to switch job function and 22% plan to switch industries. Transitioning into another industry or position is one of the most common reasons people decide to pursue an MBA.

Post-MBA career switching has led to average salaries $36,742 higher than those without the degree, with some reporting an increase as high as $50,000-$100,000. 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 the following 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. Almost 60% of Fortune 100 CEOs earned an MBA, and 77% of business school students say that their graduate education helps prepare them for leadership positions. 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: A structured thinking process helps professionals avoid jumping to the wrong conclusion and making poorly informed business decisions. Critical thinking as defined by The Learning Scientists is “thinking that is purposeful, reasoned, and goal directed – the kind of thinking that is involved in solving problems, formulating inferences, calculating likelihoods, and making decisions.”

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) 2021 Corporate Recruiters Survey:

  • More recruiters expect the demand for MBA graduates to increase over the next five years.
  • 91% of recruiters are projected to hire MBA graduates in 2021.
  • MBA hiring projections show an increased rate, in keeping with 2020’s increases.
  • MBA salary premiums are projected to return to pre-pandemic levels.

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

  • 87% say the degree increased their employability (GMAC 2021 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report).
  • 79% say that their degree increased their earnings power.
  • One in three alumni reported an increase in median salary of $50,000-$100,000
  • The median salary of MBA graduates ($115,000) is 77% more than those with only a bachelor’s degree ($65,000).
  • The average starting salary for MBA graduates in the class of 2021 will be $87,966 — 11.3% higher than that of 2020 graduates (National Association of Colleges and Employers).

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 Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s online MBA programs.

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