Engineers are in demand thanks to an increasingly high-tech world. Working in engineering requires at least a bachelor’s degree in engineering. This prepares you for a stable, good-paying job and a wide array of challenging projects. However, you may want to consider earning an advanced degree to take your career to the next level. And one of the most popular advanced degrees for engineers is the MBA. Not only does it open a large number of opportunities for engineers, but it is one where engineers can use their natural talents and flourish. Here are 5 reasons why engineers should consider getting an MBA.
It Is the Path to Engineering Management
An MBA prepares you to work in engineering management. You learn the soft skills required for technical leadership like time management and communicating complex information to diverse audiences. You’ll learn how to lead teams, delegate to middle managers, and meet various ethical and legal standards. As an engineering manager, you will be asked to:
- Research and develop products and designs
- Manage and propose budgets for projects
- Supervise cross disciplinary teams
- Make sure products are supported by upper management
- Determine talent develop and training needs
- Build teams and hire contractors
An MBA is necessary if you want to move beyond team leader into program management. You could also earn a second master’s degree in operations management or engineering management with just a couple more classes beyond those required for the MBA. Now you’ll have a powerful resume that proves you’re qualified for whatever job you want.
Note that you don’t have to quit your job to further your career. You can earn an MBA taking classes part time. There’s also the possibility of getting an engineering MBA online. You’ll learn the same business content and study the same case studies. However, you have more schedule flexibility, and you can continue your education whether you’re on the road or working from home.
It Opens Up the Possibility of Cross-Functional Roles
An MBA on top of an engineering degree prepares you to move into project management. You could move from supervising equipment upgrades to managing the facility as a whole. If you complete an MBA, you could become a technology planner. Now you can manage the entire IT strategy for the company, having a massive impact on the future of the firm.
An MBA will also teach you more about the business side of things. You’ll learn about managerial accounting, financial planning, and risk management. This knowledge is not just required to move into management. It sets you up for success if you decide you want to start your own consulting firm. Learning how to solve problems holistically while drawing from a wide range of case studies also prepares you for change management positions.
MBA programs typically teach logistics and supply chain management in addition to accounting and customer relationship management. This prepares you for a move to supply chain management or engineering sales, if you want to change directions with your career.
A side benefit of enrolling in an MBA program is that you’ll cultivate a network that can help you move into a new role.
It Can Dramatically Increase Your Salary
An engineer with an MBA can earn up to fifty percent more. This depends on the job they choose and where they work, but many roles that they’re qualified for are high paying jobs. For example, program managers earn over a hundred thousand dollars. Here are some examples of high paying positions for engineers with an MBA:
- Senior project manager $160,000
- Facilities directors $130,000
- Solutions architects $140,000
- Marketing director $90,000
- Senior staff engineer $117,000
There is significant evidence that shows an MBA will increase your salary no matter what compared to if you only have a bachelor’s degree. One study found that MBAs earned about $12,000 more per year than bachelors. But this difference is even larger when it comes to complementary fields like engineering.
An MBA can Validate Your Business Experience
A lot of engineers decide to start business either straight out of engineering school, or after a few years in the marketplace. And while engineers do often have a core skill set that translates well into the business world, they still have many gaps to fill.
When asked why he decided to get an MBA, electrical engineer Xi Guo said:
“I wanted to add some structure to all the things I learned through trial and error in my business.”
He also saw the MBA as a way to make the link between business leaders and engineers.
“I saw a big divide between business leaders and engineers” He said. “Engineers often couldn’t factor business considerations when building products, and leaders had difficulty communicating with highly technical teams.”
And this is an issue that only engineers with an MBA can fix. An engineer with an MBA can now understand the complete lifecycle of a product, from product development and prototyping all the way up to manufacturing and supply chain management. Combine this with accounting, human resources skills, and all the soft skills that MBAs acquire, and you become an almost unstoppable force.
Speaking of soft skills, another advantage of getting an MBA is that many engineers end up developing their personality and get a chance to see a side of themselves they never knew existed. The MBA revolves around a lot of group projects, presentations, discussions, and industry visits. As a result, a lot of engineers end up honing interpersonal skills that will be useful if they decide to move into a managerial role.
An MBA will give you a holistic view of business and prepare you to handle a much greater level of responsibility. How you choose to use this knowledge is up to you, but employers will pay a premium for it. So, if you were looking for a way to advance your career, get the skills needed to become a better entrepreneur, or completely change fields, getting an MBA is an option that all engineers should consider.
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