High unemployment means an intensely competitive job market. That probably comes as no surprise. However, whenever the competition for jobs becomes this fierce, those looking for jobs are looking for a foot in the door while those with jobs begin looking for ways to increase their value to their current employer and keep the job seekers on the outside.

For both, this includes the contemplation of a Master’s in Business Administration degree (MBA). What affect, if any, can an MBA have on your career?

Can it mean a new job, if you are one of the nearly 10% of Americans looking for work? Can it mean a better job, if you are seeking a higher salary or increased responsibilities? Perhaps, you are looking at a career change and think an MBA may be the surest way to transitional utopia. Is it?

If you are considering an MBA degree, there is some good news, and some not so good ones.


Networking Opportunities

It is still who you know more than what you know, and obtaining an MBA will definitely increase the number in the “people you know” column. More importantly, you will meet the right kind of people.

MBA programs emphasize group work in nearly every class. Over the course of your two year study you will be required to work intimately with nearly 200 people. Many of whom are already well into highly successful careers.

When you also factor required interviews of corporate leaders, memberships into campus clubs and business organizations, and the number can easily climbs into the hundreds.


More Job Opportunities

Obtaining an MBA will absolutely get you through more doors and increase the number of career opportunities. Potential employers will not request an interview or hire you on your MBA alone, but having an MBA will certainly gain you access to career opportunities non-MBAs rarely see.

According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council’s Global Management Education Graduate Survey (GMAC.com), 2011 MBA graduates received more job offers than last year’s graduates. They report that 62% of all grads received at least one job offer and 84% received an increase in salary for the same job over those without an MBA degree. In a related GMAC survey, 79% of corporate recruiters expected to hire an MBA, up from 72% a year ago.

It is clear that having an MBA is better than not having one if you are looking for better career opportunities and advancement, but is it all good news?


What about the return on investment?

Is there enough benefit to an MBA degree to justify the time and expense in obtaining one? That depends.

Having an MBA is not all recruiters look at when evaluating prospective employees. Experience still ranks high on the lists of requirements employers look for in their new hires. According to PayScale.com, MBA graduates with 20+ years’ experience, on average earn nearly 60% more than those MBAs with less than 10 years of work experience; much less for those with less than a year.

The industry is also a factor when determining the ultimate value of your hard earned MBA. Jobs in the financial sector clearly benefit from an MBA more than others. Here are a few examples of potential jobs along with their median salary as reported by PayScale.com in February 2012:

• Chief financial officer: $126,967

• Financial controller: $85,456

• Senior financial analyst: $73,891

• Human retargets manager: $62,387

• Senior accountant: $58,298

Not surprisingly, even the state you choose to work in will affect the salary you should expect out of your MBA. Here is a list of the top median incomes for MBA graduates by state, as reported by PayScale.com in February 2012:

• California: $95,290

• New York: $88,716

• Illinois: $80,919

• Texas: $77,497

• Florida: $67,007

What can an MBA do for your career? With an MBA you will certainly discover opportunities you never knew existed and you will find it easier to pursue those opportunities.

Whether you are fresh out of college wanting to pursue a long and rewarding career or a 20 year seasoned professional seeking to improve your lot in life, the time and expense in getting an MBA may well be worth the sacrifice.