30/03/2022 - 14:00

Be the master of your own destiny

30/03/2022 - 14:00

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An MBA doesn’t come with any guarantees, but those who complete one see plenty of career upside.

Be the master of your own destiny
Many people worldwide recognise the benefits of an MBA. Photo: RUT MIIT/Unsplash

Enrolling to study for a master of business administration, or MBA, has the potential to raise your earnings across your career by millions of dollars.

That’s according to the global Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2021 survey, which found individuals who completed an MBA were likely to earn $4 million more over a span of 35 years than those who only had a bachelor’s degree.

With the pandemic prompting people to rethink their career paths, many are weighing the decision of whether to sign up for an MBA.

The MBA is the flagship program of most business schools and arguably the world’s most recognised qualification. It’s designed specifically to develop skills in leadership, management and business.

However, many believe an MBA is only suited to those operating in the corporate sector.

Yet the graduate qualification is also well-matched to those carving out careers in small to medium business, the public sector and government, as well as with not-for-profit or charitable organisations.

The typical MBA programs include a smattering of core subjects such as accounting, management, marketing, finance and strategy, alongside a number of elective topics that allow students to refine their professional interests.

Most MBA programs take two years to complete on a full-time basis, though some have been designed to be fast-tracked in as little as one year.

It is estimated there are around 2,500 MBA programs offered worldwide.

While the graduate program was first introduced in the US more than 100 years ago, today’s MBA has evolved and been adapted to deal with digital disruption and changing demands from students and employers.

Specialist publication MBA News reports that the Australian MBA market is worth about $500 million in tuition fees per year, with more than 30 different providers offering 100 course versions.

In Western Australia, professionals seeking an MBA are spoilt for choice.

Face-to-face, blended and online delivery options are offered across five universities and a handful of private providers.

With advancements in technology, there are even opportunities for those contemplating an MBA to study interstate or overseas without needing to leave WA.

MBA News says the pandemic has done little to soften demand for MBA places, even if there are 10 fewer programs on offer across Australia than were available before COVID-19 rocked the university sector in 2020.

According to MBA News, the average cost for a domestic student to complete an MBA in Australia is $57,353.

Prices can be as high as $126,000 (University of Melbourne’s senior executive MBA) and as low as $16,000 (Victoria Institute of Technology MBA).

With the prospect of better careers and heftier pay packets, but with a considerable upfront investment required in terms of time and money, deciding whether to complete an MBA can be challenging.

Unsurprisingly, those completing an MBA will be quick to point to their strengthened leadership attributes, including an enhanced strategic orientation, increased entrepreneurial flair, and improved financial management skills.

Many are also likely to report that, while the qualification did not guarantee an improved work role, they felt it gave them the edge over other candidates.

And most studying the qualification will agree that completing an MBA is a powerful way to diversify their network base. As for better salaries, whether an MBA results in more income seems to come down to the sector in which the graduate works.

Completing an MBA is not a magic pill that will automatically result in a bigger pay cheque.

For those who remain unsure about whether an MBA is worth the time and investment, there is always the option of completing a mini-MBA offered by some institutions.

These are usually not-forcredit sampler programs offering what some describe as a helicopter view of MBA content.

For those who opt not to pursue an MBA, there is a range of alternative specialised graduate programs available in specific industries like healthcare management or business functions, for example data analytics.

The best advice for those contemplating an MBA is to talk to experienced professionals in the industry in which they are based or where they want to head.

Soliciting those views invariably makes a career decision more considered.

• Professor Gary Martin is chief executive officer of the Australian Institute of Management WA

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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