Is an MBA Right for an Engineer?

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    Investment

    • An MBA, like any other degree, is an investment. Anyone considering earning an MBA should shop around for the schools and programs that fit their needs. For an engineer, the best MBA programs are ones that focus on the business side of logistics, operational controls, design, and marketing. Most MBA students specialize in one aspect of business, and engineers should look into which specialties have the most value for their profession. By specializing in management, engineers can learn how operational controls in engineering relate to the business' bottom line. By specializing in marketing, they can learn how engineering projects translate into marketable products. This kind of knowledge, combined with technical skills, can make engineers stand out as candidates for management positions.

    Goals

    • The value of a degree depends on the student's goals. Engineers who want to leave the technical side of the business for the management side might benefit from earning an MBA. Those who want to move into a different technical job might be better served by earning a master's in engineering, rather than a business-focused degree. MBAs are usually fairly costly programs, so engineers considering earning one should take into account whether the MBA experience fits into their plans better than other options they're considering.

    Experience

    • MBA programs, especially highly ranked programs at Ivy League schools, are famous for being a fun, life-changing experience. The MBA program is not a normal education experience by any standard. It involves teamwork, team-building, networking, and real-world projects. Many MBA students actually start businesses as part of their coursework, and through this process form friendships and connections that last a lifetime. For engineers, this can be a welcome break from the relatively solitary duties of drafting, testing, and debugging, and could open the door to a world of new opportunities.

    Ideas

    • MBA programs can introduce students to many new and innovative ideas. Most MBA students aren't kids coming fresh out of undergrad programs, but experienced businesspeople who are seeking a new challenge. MBA classes offer a high level of discussion and debate, and through this, students are often exposed to business ideas and concepts that can lead to ideas for startups and other career opportunities. MBA students gain more networking and teamwork experience than those in any other program, and this naturally leads to an open exchange of ideas that many engineers aren't necessarily exposed to otherwise.

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