Home | Policy & Reform | MBA offers careers edge, greater salary potential: Opinion

MBA offers careers edge, greater salary potential: Opinion

Leaders today face increasingly complex market dynamics and shorter timeframes in which to make judgments. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) provides students with the knowledge and flexibility to navigate workplaces, develop leadership skills and more quickly resolve business problems. Importantly, an MBA holder can secure career progression and higher salaries.

MBA graduates often advance more rapidly in fields as diverse as architecture, medicine, education, manufacturing and retail, because they have developed both technical skills, such as strategic and critical thinking, and personal qualities including self-assurance and the ability to rapidly analyse and process financial information.

According to Deloitte Access Economics, further study can be a way for individuals to “signal” their capability to employers. Drawing on recent research into signalling theory, Deloitte argues that the very act of completing a post-graduate degree functions as a signal to employers that an individual is capable of sustained, high-level effort.

Australian MBAs rank high globally in terms of reward

The QS Top MBA Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2016/171 , which collated data on salaries earned by MBA graduates around the world, found that Australian MBA holders earned an average of US$122,950 ($175,643). This is the fourth highest MBA salary level worldwide, exemplifying that Australian graduates are competitive in the job market and recompensed for their skills.

Separate Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data reveal that the occupation groups with the highest mean weekly earnings were managers (across industries) at $1,853 as of August 2016.1

The same ABS data also reveal that postgraduate education brings benefits, even for those who are not in management; average weekly earnings for those with a non-school qualification were highest for those with a postgraduate degree. At $1,791, the figure outstrips the average salary of a professional at $1,545 a week.

These figures highlight that an MBA graduate can leverage their degree to earn financial rewards. The benefits flow because MBA graduates have gained knowledge and skills that represent an increase in human or intellectual capital. This results in more productive workers who are rewarded for their greater efficiency and effectiveness.

Teaching the skills that managers need

A good online MBA course engages students in self-directed learning, using real-world contexts and situations to motivate engagement. Students are challenged with current contemporary problems and ethical scenarios, and are introduced to the knowledge and skills required to solve the problem independently, collaboratively and collectively. Such an approach emphasises autonomy and self-direction, the very skills that are needed in 21st century workplaces.

For example, Victoria University’s (VU) online MBA culminates in a capstone Business Research Project unit that allows students to channel their theoretical knowledge accumulated over the course and apply it to a pressing business need that they nominate themselves. One of VU’s MBA graduates, Ben Cox, discusses leveraging his MBA to move from an operational management role into sales and business development. “Since completing my MBA I’ve returned to Protect-A-Bed and moved into a new role overseeing business development. I recently had a pitch for a new business concept approved, which we hope to launch mid-2018. My MBA proved pivotal in this process; both in providing me with knowledge, and equally as important, confidence.”

This is an example of the role of applied research where the University sector can truly contribute to improving the competitiveness of the Australian economy. More generally, MBA graduates can also embark upon career paths as diverse as joining international organisations and running small businesses. Success in both large and small organisations, as well as in entrepreneurial endeavours, is driven by the knowledge, skills, and personal qualities that can be attained and developed through study for an MBA degree.

Real-world engagement with business

Close relationships with industry are necessary to keep an MBA practical, career-based and relevant to both employers’ and students’ current and future needs. Direct collaboration with the business sector also allows the MBA course to provide students with networking opportunities in industry.

1. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/[email protected]/Previousproducts/6333.0Main%20Features3August%202016?opendocument&tabname=Summary&prodno=6333.0&issue=August%202016&num=&view=


Professor Chris Walsh is academic director at Victoria University Online. Dr Colin Drake is the MBA program director at Victoria University.

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One comment

  1. One glaring error in almost all MBA courses I have come across is the complete lack of information management as a course topic. In any organisation, good information management adds value to both business efficiency and good decision-making as well as accountability. Information is an asset and a resource. Yet managing it, and/or managing the management of it, is not part of the MBA curriculum in most cases. Hopefully that will change over time.

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