Getting an MBA degree in one of the most preferred MBA specializations is a great way to advance yourself in your career. While MBAs are business-focused, you do not need a background in business. In fact, many MBA students come from a wide range of industries including engineers, lawyers, and doctors.
MBA studies are focused on finetuning your skillset to be better equipped for the business world. MBA specializations include education on accounting, finance, marketing, management, and other essential functions of a business.
Getting your MBA is important because it teaches you how to run a business. This will allow you to move up in a company, pivot into a new industry, or start your own company. Here, some of Stanford’s MBA students explain how they were able to use their MBA degrees to pivot into new industries and quickly rise the ranks at internationally renowned companies.
While you can be the best software developer in the world, if you don’t know how to make a balance sheet or manage a team of employees, your ideas may never get off the ground. Understanding what MBA specializations there are and how the programs work is crucial, so here is some basic information to get you started!
List of MBA Specializations
The great thing about MBA programs is that not all are the same. There are tons of specialized MBA programs that are suited for various industries and what you might want to do with the rest of your career. While there are dozens of specialties out there, here are a few of the most popular.
1. MBA in Marketing
Pursuing a study in marketing is probably the most familiar to people. Back in 2017, Forbes estimated that the average person sees anywhere from 4,000-10,000 advertisements a day. We see advertisements on every product, on every type of surface, and at every hour of the day. So, for non-businesspeople, marketing awareness might feel the most natural to learn.
But marketing is more than just making a perfect advertisement. Marketing includes complex strategy, sales and data analytics, psychiatry, and more. The marketing department at any company is responsible for bringing in new business, increasing sales, managing the company’s image, and more.
2. MBA in Information Systems (IT)
The primary focus of studying IT is to bridge the gap between business needs and the available technology. Businesses that invest in having cutting-edge IT systems are often at an advantage. They are able to work more efficiently, collect more data to analyze, and reduce pain points throughout a businesses’ operations.
The IT department encompasses more than just the team that installs software onto computers. This team is vital to many businesses today because almost every company has a website and various social media accounts as well as e-commerce stores, data analytics systems, supply-chain management systems, and more. IT is the engine of every modern company so being able to understand these systems makes you an incredible asset wherever you work.
3. MBA in Finance
Finance is one of the most popular MBA programs since it trains students on how to raise capital for companies, operate the cash flows of a business, and how to leverage assets to achieve company goals. While many engineers are already good with numbers, finance is slightly more complicated than the simple underlying equations.
Finance requires strategy and a thorough understanding of domestic and international markets, as well as the right personal skills to lock in investors and deals. Without Finance specialists, there is no fuel to run the car, so mastering this skill is highly prized amongst top companies.
4. MBA in Operations Management
Acquiring a specialty in operations management encompasses the understanding of keeping a company running smoothly. The majority of your responsibilities could include functions such as vendor management, inventory management, purchase management, supply-chain management, and resource planning. These functions are what keep the business running and are the main components in maintaining the cost of goods, the quality of products, and how fast products and services can be achieved.
Operations specialists are incredibly valuable because they make the whole business possible. While Financiers find the money to pay for the inputs and Marketing figures out what products or services to make, IT and Operations Management are the two functions that help the business run smoothly. If you have read anything about supply-chain issues in the current market and think you can improve the system, operations management might be your calling.
5. MBA in Consulting
Consulting is a fancy industry term for a fixer. When companies hire a consultant, they are looking for someone to come in and figure out the problem or find the solution to any problem. Consultants are the Swiss-army knives in the professional world because they need to analyze all aspects of the business, from Financing, Marketing, IT, Operations, and more.
Pursuing an MBA in consulting is a great choice for people who have no business background because consultants can be highly specialized. If you’re a software engineer, you can easily find a niche as a software consultant and work with companies to find software pain points and improve their systems.
How to Choose Your MBA Specialization
Understanding what MBA specialization means is only half the battle. Before committing to a program, consider taking some of these steps.
Think About Your Career Path
Are you someone that wants to work for a large company or create your own? Do you want to stay in the same industry or pivot into a new one? Think about the jobs you would want to have and assess which MBA program would best help you get there.
Understand the Classes and Subjects in Each Program
A quick summary of the course isn’t going to be enough to understand what it can provide you. Look at the different classes offered in each program and think about if those will help you in the job you want. MBA programs are more than just a base understanding of knowledge. These classes are meant to teach you highly specialized skills that companies will seek you out for.
What Companies are Looking for and What are they Offering
If you are driven by the industry you want to enter or the company you want to look for, looking at what these companies are desiring in the current market can give you an advantage. If you want to work at Meta, having a background in IT systems to help in their e-commerce efforts may be your best ticket in.
It’s also important to look at the salaries and jobs that are being offered. This can give you a great idea as to the value of your MBA degree in the current market.
Most Attractive Specializations for Engineers
MBA programs are a great way for engineers to move up the corporate ladder and learn about the fundamentals needed to run a business. While there are dozens of MBA specializations out there, the best ones for engineers are going to leverage an engineer’s natural analytical abilities, as well as help engineers, learn all skills needed to manage a business.
While this list is not in any order and may not be relevant depending on your specific career goals, these are the best MBA specializations for engineers:
- Operations Management
- IT Systems
- Business Analytics
- International Business
Pursuing an MBA is an exciting next step in anyone’s career path. Every job is geared towards improving a business, whether you’re a doctor or engineer. Understanding the fundamentals of business will make you an incredibly valuable employee at any company.
Before you start applying to MBA programs, you will definitely need to fix your resume. Here is a great resource to get you started:
No matter what you do, always remember to do your research, and most of all, best of luck!