Getting an MBA for a Career Change

Man and Woman Talking

Learn how you can get an MBA to help make a career change

If you’re thinking about a career change this year, you’re not alone. Many mid-career professionals are making plans to change career direction in 2021. 

One 2020 survey found that 35% of respondents said the coronavirus pandemic has prompted them to consider a new career. Another recent poll found that 59% of middle-income workers surveyed would like a career change this year. 

However, while the pandemic may be a catalyst for change, it’s not the main reason that many feel the need for a new direction. 

According to the first survey mentioned above, having more choice and trying something new are big motivators for many (57%), followed by needing more work/life balance (38%) and wanting a higher salary (34%). Other surveys find that salary is more important on that priority scale, but in general most studies, such as this survey from LinkedIn, demonstrate similar findings. 

Flexibility, choice, growth and development opportunities, quality of life and salary are consistently our biggest motivators when it comes to making a career change. 

You can begin the process of changing careers by: 
Identifying transferable skills and using them to move into a new role
Working with a career coach or mentor
Learning new skills through short courses or training
Tailoring your personal branding towards a different function or industry
Focusing on similar roles in a new industry 
Changing roles within your company or industry
Enrolling in an undergraduate degree in a new field
Enrolling in a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or other postgraduate degree
Working on projects, interning or volunteering in your desired field to get experience

If you’re planning a career change, remember above all to be patient; changing careers takes time and often requires a lot of learning. It’s important to not be disheartened if it doesn’t happen straight away. It commonly takes months or even years of experimenting with different roles and skills before you feel confident of your new direction. 

Let’s take a look at how you can change your career by getting an MBA, job prospects, and where the data says you may end up.

If you already have an MBA and want to learn how to leverage it for a career change, be sure to read this article.

Getting an MBA for a career change

An MBA is a postgraduate course that is essentially designed to train you up as a business leader. You are assumed to have some work experience and education already, so it’s really ideal for those who have already started their career, and have now decided it’s time for the next step.

In general, a majority of MBA students choose this course with the intention of using it to change roles, industries or employers. 

According to one survey of MBA students by the Association of MBAs conducted in November 2020 , 62% of respondents were planning to change jobs when their MBA was completed.

Within that group, 29% were planning to move to the same role but within a different company and different industry, and 33% planned to move to a different company in the same industry, but to a different role. 

One of the reasons why students choose an MBA to change careers is simply that it works. 
According to one study by the US Graduate Management Admission Council, more than half of the alumni surveyed went on to work in a different industry or job function than they did before business school, and two out of five got work in an industry they hadn't considered before business school.

Career options with an MBA

Whether you want to be self-employed, run a small business, become an entrepreneur or a consultant or work in a senior position for a large company, an MBA provides a broad education in the foundational skills you will need to effectively manage. Some typical MBA graduate positions include:  ● Account executive
● Business consultant
● Business development manager
● Entrepreneur
● General manager
● Operations or product manager
● Director of sales and marketing

To get a sense of the skills you can apply to a new career with an MBA, here is a list of the eight core subjects on offer with the MBA at Torrens University Australia (TUA)
● Management, People and Teams
● Financial Management
● Dynamic Leadership
● Business Decision Analytics
● Systems Thinking
● Strategic Management
● Marketing
● Business Capstone

As you can see, these subjects are focused around teaching leadership, finance and strategic skills. So, it’s no surprise that MBA graduates tend to end up in these kinds of fields. 

What the data says about where MBA grads end up

In 2020, the Association of MBAs surveyed 752 current MBA students and 2,110 MBA alumni several years after their graduation, as part of an ongoing study.

The association found that graduates now work across a diverse range of industries, including consulting, banking, finance, IT, education, energy and government. The majority of recent graduates had gone on to middle or junior management positions within a large organisation (65%), but some had become entrepreneurs (11%) or gone into small businesses (18%). 

Interestingly, the association found that many MBA alumni (27%) tended to end up becoming business owners 21+ years after graduation, compared to just 6% of graduates from less than 3-5 years ago. 

So, you can expect that your career trajectory may involve working as a manager for other companies for some years, before eventually establishing your own business later on. 

According to the survey, here are the main areas that MBA graduates went on to work in: 
● Consulting (18%)
● Operations (16%)
● Sales or business development (16%)
● Finance and accounting (10%)
● IT (7%)
● CEO or general manager (6%)
● Marketing or PR (5%)
● Purchasing, logistics and supply chain (4%)

Overall, the study found that 88% of graduates agree they had gained substantially more skills to help them do better at managing a business as a result of completing the MBA. Similarly, 81% agreed that the skills they learned during their MBA have helped them be more mentally resilient.

Achieving an MBA sets you up for success in a wide range of careers. Learn more about the MBAs Torrens University has on offer here.

Justin Pierce, Associate Professor, Business at Torrens University Australia (TUA).
Check our MBA Courses to learn more
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