What Can You Do With an MBA? (Plus Tips and Steps)

By Jami Whited

Updated May 18, 2022 | Published December 12, 2019

Updated May 18, 2022

Published December 12, 2019

Jami Whited is a freelance writer, web designer and social media marketer. When she's not creating, she's working on ways to help small businesses and individuals turn their dreams into actionable goals.

In a competitive job market, an advanced degree can make you an attractive candidate. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is one worthwhile degree option. Regardless of your specialty, having an MBA shows you have the expertise, leadership and desire to become an integral part of the workforce. In this article, we discuss what an MBA is, what you can do with the degree and how to earn one.

What is an MBA?

A Master of Business Administration, or MBA, is a versatile degree program that teaches students the basics of business and management. Subjects include finance and operations, as well as specialized topics like data analytics. MBAs are useful for operations management, analyzing profitability and leading teams efficiently and effectively. Those with an MBA typically have leadership roles, and they often work with human resources and department heads. Many degree holders also run their own businesses.

Why is an MBA worth it?

Regardless of your field, it may be worthwhile for you to consider pursuing an MBA. You can learn many transferrable skills and valuable tools. These include networking, critical thinking and problem-solving. This degree may benefit your career because employers may be more interested in candidates who've earned an MBA. Some of the most popular industries that require MBAs to fill key roles in administration, analysis and management include:

  • Health care

  • Human resources

  • Banking

  • Information technology

  • Education

Another benefit of earning an MBA is how it can affect earning potential. The salary for those with an MBA can be significantly higher than for employees with bachelor's degrees.

What can I do with an MBA?

An MBA may help you gain a high-level position early in your career or help you advance professionally. Most companies benefit from an effective business administration system, so many employers look for employees with advanced business practice knowledge.

Some of the most common positions pursued with an MBA are:

  • Accountant

  • Commercial banker

  • Marketing manager

  • Project manager

  • Business operations manager

  • Chief executive officer

  • Human resources manager

  • Financial officer

  • Sales manager

  • Operations analyst

Related: Jobs for MBA Graduates: What Can I Do With My MBA?

Related: 5 Best Interview Tips for College Students

In this video, we share six interview tips for college students including how to leverage all of your experience so that you stand out to employers.

How do I get an MBA?

Here are some steps to take as you pursue a Master of Business Administration:

Find your ideal program

After completing your undergrad, research schools for an MBA program that meets your needs. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Type of college: Decide if you want to attend a community college or a university. While many community colleges offer master's degrees, they may only have a few programs available.

  • Testing requirements: Many MBA programs require prospective students to complete the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). If you don't have the time to study for the tests, or the money available for the fees, then look for programs that don't require them.

  • Length of program: Typically, programs last between one and three years.

  • Type of instruction: Classes may be online, in person or workshop-oriented. If you're currently employed, you may prefer a program with all online classes so you can work around your schedule.

  • Options for specialization: If there's a particular industry you want to work in, find a college that offers related programs or coursework. This can ensure you're learning things that directly apply to your career path.

Related: How To Decide Between an MBA vs. Executive MBA

Complete the application process

Once you've chosen a college and program, gather your application materials. Every institution has different requirements, but common documents include application forms, transcripts from your undergraduate degree and essays. The application process often involves providing certain information, such as:

  • Examples of how you've met objectives and overcome obstacles

  • Proof of leadership ability and management skills

  • Quantifiable results from your professional and educational accomplishments

  • Demonstration of your ability to think creatively and solve problems

Related: How To Get an MBA: A Step-by-Step Guide

Choose your specialty

It's wise to take industry classes so you can perform your ideal job effectively. Besides completing this coursework, consider pursuing a special certification. Some common specialties include:

  • Risk management

  • Financial analyst

  • Project management

  • Information systems

  • Product and inventory management

Related: What Can You Do After Your MBA?

Tips for entering the workforce with an MBA

Earning your MBA helps employers understand you possess the business management and leadership skills necessary to complete the job. When you apply for a position that requires an MBA, highlight the unique business expertise and benefits you can bring to the employer. Be sure to showcase how you've trained in handling complex issues, applying strategic thinking and creatively solving problems.

As you apply for jobs, it's important to prepare application documents, such as a resume and cover letter, that properly showcase your skills and knowledge. Here are some tips for creating those documents:

Drafting a comprehensive resume

When applying for a professional position, employers often require that you submit a resume. When drafting your resume, include relevant information about your academic and work experience. Important resume components include:

  • An objective statement or professional summary

  • Previous work history, including responsibilities, relevant projects and achievements

  • Your academy history, including specific programs

  • Relevant awards and certifications

  • Key skills that pertain to the job as described

Writing a detailed cover letter

A cover letter is often the first thing an employer reads when examining applications. It's a vital document that should showcase what you can bring to the company. Cover letters are also an opportunity to add your personality to your application documents.

Include details like:

  • Brief statements on your skills and accomplishments

  • A simple description of your education and field of study

  • A list of any credentials

  • How your experience can help you succeed in the position

  • Describe why you're interested in the position and company

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