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What can you do with an MBA degree?

Discover how an online MBA degree could help you unlock senior roles with high salaries in a number of in-demand industries, including finance, business and tech.

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In the constantly evolving and adapting business landscape, how do you stand out from the sea of hopeful graduates and secure highly sought-after, well paid careers at exciting companies? Earning an MBA is one potential solution to this problem.

The opportunities you can unlock with an MBA are more vast than ever — what used to be a qualification aimed at finance students hoping to move into top banking jobs is now a well-respected program that can score students senior roles in marketing, international business, HR, supply chain, tech and more.

Sounds like something you might be interested in? Keep reading to discover the value of MBA programs and find out which careers you could secure once you graduate. We’ll also reveal average salaries and dive into the benefits of choosing an online MBA.

What is an MBA?

An advanced degree aimed at ambitious professionals hoping to climb the career ladder, MBA stands for Master of Business Administration. It’s the ultimate toolkit for future leaders and senior professionals, teaching students everything they need to know about business management.

They may not be cheap, costing on average between £35k and £45k in the UK, but MBAs are very well respected among employers, with many businesses actively seeking out MBA graduates. So for many, it’s a worthwhile investment. 

MBA programs cover everything from business operations and strategic planning to digital marketing and accounting. They hope to equip graduates with the skills, knowledge and practical expertise to solve complicated business problems and lead successful teams, whether they end up working for a reputable business or themselves in the future.

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How long does it take to get an MBA?

Of course, before you think about applying for an MBA, you need to know whether the study time is within your remit. Luckily for you, there are different options out there, so you can choose an option that fits in with your current lifestyle and other commitments, like family or a current business venture.

  1. Full-time MBA. The most typical option, a full-time MBA usually takes two years to complete, and requires you to commit fully to the program.
  2. Part-time MBA. Taking around three to four years to complete, studying part-time is a great workaround for those who can’t leave their current career. 
  3. Executive MBA (EMBA). This option (aimed at more experienced business professionals) is also around two years but often has a more flexible format, allowing students to take classes on weekends or evenings.
  4. Online MBA. Your most flexible option, online MBAs take different amounts of time to complete depending on your goals. You can fast-track your learning and earn an MBA in just one year, or find the perfect life balance and study over three years.

What can you do with an MBA?

So, what career opportunities do you have as an MBA graduate? Fortunately, your options are wide open. As we previously mentioned, MBA graduates these days go on to do all sorts of things, so the ball is in your court.

If you’re wondering which industries you may be able to work in, we’ve got a non-exhaustive list below of some of the most popular industries for MBA graduates. You may even be able to choose an MBA that specialises in the specific industry you’re interested in — for example, Coventry University offers Master of Business Administration (Health Care Sector).

  • Finance
  • Business management
  • International management
  • Human resource management
  • Consulting
  • IT management
  • Executive management
  • Supply chain management
  • Health care management.

Your career progression opportunities also look really good as an MBA holder, because you’ve already proved that you’ve got the drive and skills needed to become a leader. So, the sky’s the limit when it comes to promotions.

Career outlook and demand for MBA graduates

MBA graduates are highly sought after worldwide, due to their advanced business skills and having earned a globally recognised qualification — so an MBA is definitely worth considering if you really want to invest in your future. 

More than that, the Association of MBAs states that MBA grads have an earning potential of over £80,000 annually. This undoubtedly adds to the appeal, as it doesn’t feel like such a huge risk to pay for an MBA when you know your future salary will cover the costs, and allow you to live a very comfortable life.

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MBA employment opportunities and salaries

Let’s get into some actual careers you could get with a Masters in Business Administration. And don’t worry, we’ll list the average salary you can expect for each role.

1. C-Suite 

You probably already know what the C-Suite is if you’re interested in an MBA, but just in case, this term is used to describe executive-level positions in a company that start with a C. Let’s explore some examples below.

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Usually the face of the company and the person with the final say in all big business decisions.
  • Chief Operations Officer (COO). Second in command, COO is an important role with a wide remit. They help oversee business operations and departments across the whole business.
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO). In charge of the financial side of a business, the CFO must pay close attention to investments, portfolio management, budgeting etc.
  • Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). First port of call and final decision maker on all marketing and promotional activities.
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO). An expert in IT, these execs are usually responsible for everyone working in tech across the business and may work with a CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) to maintain cybersecurity.

Average CEO salary in the UK: £84,106 p/a

2. Marketing Manager

It does what it says on the tin — marketing managers are responsible for coming up with marketing strategies that promote a product or service, like creative campaigns that increase brand awareness. They often lead a team but still report to a Head of Marketing or CMO, so this role could be a great place to start when you’ve first graduated from your MBA. 

Average salary in the UK: £44,394 p/a

3. Operations Manager

If you’re more interested in the what, why and how of business operations, and are a highly practical and organised person, an operations manager position could be right up your street. They’re essentially responsible for the smooth running of a business, including resource management, streamlining processes, and meeting targets.

Average salary in the UK: £48,365 p/a

4. Management Consultant

Perhaps you’re a great leader, but you prefer the idea of working across many different organisations. In that case, management consulting could be for you. Management consultants analyse business problems and develop solutions, using their external position and broad expertise to offer a new perspective. As you can imagine, you’ll need to have excellent problem-solving skills and confident communication for this role.

Average salary in the UK: £60,118 p/a

5. Investment Banker

A widely sought-after role for MBA holders, investment bankers help clients raise money through various means, including IPOs, stocks and bonds, and mergers and acquisitions. If you’re analytical, mathematically skilled, and thrive under pressure, this could be a good position for you. 

Also, investment bankers famously get great bonuses, so if you think the salary figure below looks a little low, that’s why. You’ll almost certainly earn quite a lot more than your base salary in this role.

Average salary in the UK: £53,873 p/a

6. Health Service Manager

Maybe you’re not interested in selling products, but you want to have an impact in the field of healthcare. In that case, you might be more suited to a health service manager role, where it’s your job to ensure that doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals have the tools and facilities to do their jobs properly and save lives.

You’ll be looking at everything from healthcare policies and budget management to quality monitoring and patient satisfaction. It’s a lot of responsibility, but an important and rewarding role.

Average salary in the UK: £45,000 p/a

7. Human Resources Manager

If managing teams and employees is your biggest strength, then consider working as a human resources manager — overseeing recruitment, training, development and satisfaction of employees. You’ll cover a lot of HR principles in your MBA, making this a great role for recent graduates. Excellent interpersonal skills are a must, so make sure you love working with people.

Average salary in the UK: £50,954 p/a

>> Explore our range of online human resources degrees

8. Data Analyst

More interested in numbers than people? Data analysts are highly in-demand, analysing data to make better business decisions in a number of industries. So whether you’re interested in finance, criminal justice or government, there’s a need for data analysts. Primary duties for this role include collecting, cleaning, analysing and interpreting data.

Average salary in the UK: £36,329 p/a

9. Project Manager

Another ideal role for recent MBA graduates, but with plenty of progression opportunities and great salaries, project managers oversee business projects from start to finish. This requires them to identify and manage risks, motivate teams, and ensure time and budget restrictions are met. So if you’re highly organised, a good problem solver, and enjoy working with people, this could be the job for you.

Average salary in the UK: £48,745 p/a

10. Supply Chain Manager

While a lot of the required skills are similar to project management, like planning, budgeting and risk management, supply chain managers are responsible for the entire supply chain process of a business. 

A more logistical role, this involves looking at procurement, the production cycle, and the distribution of a product, including shipments. If you’ve got high attention to detail and are interested in the lifecycle of a product, you could be a great supply chain manager.

Average salary in the UK: £52,575 p/a

What does an MBA teach you?

Despite all the emphasis on great career prospects and high salaries, the reason why MBAs are so worthwhile is that they teach so many essential skills that will help you achieve success in a business environment. 

Whether you want to reach the highest ranks at your dream business or set up your own thriving venture, you’ll be positioned to take the world by storm. Below we discuss the top things you’ll learn on an MBA.

1. Leadership and management skills

Since you’re effectively training for leadership, management and even executive-level roles, an important chunk of your MBA program is all about developing strong leadership skills. This will include learning to lead teams, manage projects successfully, and make difficult strategic decisions. 

2. Financial literacy

Even if you’re not planning on working in finance, (banking or accounting, for example) you’ll still need to know your way around financial statements, budgeting and analysis. 

This is because finances are a crucial aspect of running any kind of business, and you can’t confidently make other decisions if you don’t understand the monetary impact it will have. So don’t sweat it — an MBA will ensure you’re clued up about financial literacy.

>> Explore our collection of online finance degrees

3. Marketing and sales

Whether you’re high up in a business or attempting to promote one of your own ventures, it’s vital that you’re able to use marketing strategies to spread the word and drive sales. In an MBA, you’ll develop skills and expertise in both sales and marketing, which will help you grow any business in the future. 

4. Global perspective

The world is more interconnected than ever, and as a businessperson, you need to understand international markets and develop a global perspective. That’s why many MBAs take a more international approach when thinking about business relations and operations, and you’ll be sure to study plenty of global case studies on your program.

5. Strategic thinking

When you’re taking on more senior positions in a business, you need to start prioritising long-term thinking over short-term priorities. An MBA will teach you how to think strategically about where your company could go in the future, taking into consideration things like financial capabilities, industry changes, consumer trends and much more. Developing these skills are an essential part of navigating a complex business landscape. 

6. Networking

Pretty much any successful business leader will tell you that networking is absolutely essential when it comes to running a company. Luckily then, one of the biggest perks of an MBA is the opportunity to network with other business professionals, including classmates, professors and industry leaders.

Building these relationships during your MBA could even lead to future collaborations and job offers, so make sure to make the most of any opportunities to network.

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Explore online MBAs on FutureLearn

Now you know just how powerful an MBA can be in opening up opportunities for your career, you can begin your search for a program that’s right for you. And if you’re tempted by the benefits of an online degree, such as getting to keep your current job, working on personal business ventures, and having more time to spend with family, we’ve got some great options for you.

Supercharge your career today with an online MBA on FutureLearn, and get ready to land senior roles where you can make a real, tangible difference to businesses at scale.

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