Dear Career Angel,
I feel I should do a Masters or an MBA to further my career but I don’t know if its worth the investment. How can I make a decision, and how can I find out whether my company will contribute?
You raise an interesting question. We all feel implicitly that further qualifications are good for our career but don’t know how much of a difference they make.
The Association of MBAs tells us that graduates can earn 18% more than those without an MBA. During a further three to five years of work, an MBA holder's salary goes up again. In fact, the average salary increase on pre-MBA salaries can be as much as 53%. However, its not a given, especially in today’s climate. Nor do we tend to see 'MBA required' in a job advert in the UK, as we might see in the US.
Given that a top MBA can cost around £50,000, it certainly is a difficult decision to make. I would approach it slightly differently. Is it something you really want to do? Much like choosing A-levels and degrees, if we have a passion for studying a particular subject, we tend to do better at it. If you are very keen to learn more about business and management, an MBA would be a good idea. If you would like to know more about environmental economics, tackle a Masters.
Certainly by improving your knowledge and skills, and staying sharp and productive, you will make yourself a better candidate for employment and promotion than by doing nothing.
In terms of the investment decision, you need to work out the full costs and whether they can be spread out, or whether any sponsorship opportunities are available.
With respect to your company’s attitude, most firms have a policy on further education. Your employee handbook should cover any financial support or whether your company will allow you study leave or time off for exams. If you can’t find anything in your handbook, have a chat with your boss or mentor. Speaking from the heart, education can only be a good thing so if you have an interest and the means, go for it!