Is an MBA really necessary for your marketing career?

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In today's job market, it's not easy to find a competitive edge. Senior marketers that want to take board level positions or transfer into more operational roles often look to MBA executive education programs to sharpen their skills and gain a leg up on their peers. But, are these programs really worth it?

"The first thing to consider is that an MBA isn’t a quick win. It’s a very time intensive and costly qualification that isn’t suitable for everyone. MBA qualifications can be of value but professionals pursuing an MBA need to be at the right stage in their career." - Nick Louca, associate director, Robert Walters, New York.

The main reasons an MBA can be of value to marketing professionals are:

Your professors are valuable industry contacts

In business school, many professors are leading business professionals who have held influential posts at large organizations, launched start-ups, etc. Having these individuals as contacts can be hugely beneficial to your marketing career.

You can attend interesting events through your MBA course

In business school you have the opportunity to attend seminars, discussion panels, workshops, or book signings that you would have never previously gained access to. These experiences can not only open your mind to new ways of thinking and different business ideas, but they can also offer the opportunity to network and make valuable business contacts.

Your fellow classmates are great additions to your network

MBA classes are filled with people who want to better themselves, advance their careers, and achieve great things. Since you are all in it together, there is a sense of camaraderie that you don’t get in most other situations. This closeness can lead to exceptional business relationships out of the classroom that can be utilized for greater career progression.

Having an MBA increases your credibility 

Although some people say that what you’ve done in the “real world” is more important than what you’ve done in the classroom, there is no doubt that by having an MBA you will benefit from some degree of increased credibility. Earning the qualification is an achievement in itself, but it also implies that you are an expert in your field and that you have a certain level of dedication and work ethic. This increased credibility can be the thing you need to progress your marketing career.

Having an MBA makes you more suitable for leadership roles

Not every business leader or executive has an MBA. However, it may be easier to assume or be considered for leadership roles if you have an MBA education behind you. While enrolled in an MBA program, you will study leadership, business and management philosophies that can be applied to almost any leadership role.

An MBA will give you greater earning potential

Not everyone will earn more immediately once they have their MBA. However it is reasonable to expect increased earning potential over the course of your career. In the US, MBA students expect increases in compensation of up to 140% after the completion of business school (from pre-MBA salaries of $58k on average to post-MBA salaries of $140k on average). However, in 2012, even graduates of Harvard Business School (the top ranked US program) fell short of this expected increase in compensation.

In conclusion, there is no doubt an MBA can help your marketing career but it’s important to consider whether your are at the right level of seniority to make the most of it, have the time to complete it and have the disposable income to afford it. If you can’t answer a convincing yes to all of the above it might be worth thinking twice.

Read our top tips for writing a sales and marketing cover letter that will land you an interview.

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