Just three years ago, PersonalMBA founder Josh Kaufman declared MBAs “mostly a worthless piece of paper,” harsh words for students who are considering a career in business. But there’s good news. The latest Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) study indicates that MBA hiring is up, and in fact, 2012 was the best year for MBA employment since the recession hit.
MBAs are finding jobs once again, but they may not be where you’d expect. Increasingly, they’re headed to growth industries rather than Wall Street. Manufacturing, technology, and health care show particularly strong growth for MBA hires. In response, business schools are offering more specialized MBAs that cater to these industries and lead to career opportunities off the beaten MBA path.
Why a Specialized MBA?
A specialized MBA not only teaches general management principles, but also focuses on practices that are unique to a particular industry. Excelsior College School of Business and Technology dean Jane LeClair explains, “An MBA that provides for an industry specialization better prepares students for upward mobility by putting basic MBA principles into real-world context applicable to their chosen fields.”
Business schools have recognized that there’s an increased employer demand for specialized talent at the MBA level. In response, they’ve changed their offerings and curriculum to give graduates a competitive leg up in these growing industries. “(There’s a) growing need to address industry needs as more of the work force nears retirement,” said LeClair of the college’s Health Care Management and Technology Management MBA concentrations. As an example of a response to industry changes, Excelsior’s Technology Management and Health Care Management MBAs opened for enrollment in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
Manufacturing is an overlooked industry for many business students, as it’s traditionally considered to be reserved for skilled workers doing manual labor. Contrary to popular belief, manufacturing has grown past its Industrial Revolution history of back-breaking labor. This is a changing field, one that has become more complex and technology-driven, and is in need of knowledgeable managers.
For decades, low-wage China was the go-to location for manufacturing, but work is coming back to the United States, thanks to cheap and abundant natural gas, intellectual property laws, and public policy. Hugh Welsh, President and General Counsel of DSM North America. reports that these factors, including U.S. innovation and human capital are bringing manufacturing work back to America and turning manufacturing into a fast growing industry. It’s no surprise, then, that four out of the 11 fastest-growing industries in 2013 are in manufacturing.
With all of this growth, managers are needed to make sense of supply chains, employment, and accounting. GMAC reports a 76% success rate overall for MBAs seeking manufacturing positions.
MBAs are a hot commodity in manufacturing, especially when coupled with a technical degree like engineering. MIT’s Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) program offers an engineering-MBA dual degree that allows graduates to pair management acumen with technical expertise. LGO director of operations and partner integration Joshua Jacobs believes this degree gives students the resources they need to be successful in a technical manufacturing setting. “With this background, our students bring the ability to drive change in large manufacturing organizations, in areas such as lean transformation, supply chain and logistics, sourcing, new product introduction, and quality. LGO graduates have a technical credibility that allows them to lead within engineering-focused organizations,” says Jacobs.
Hot Jobs for Manufacturing MBAs
Hot jobs for manufacturing MBAs are in the fields of project management, business analysis, and supply chain management. In these positions, manufacturing MBAs pair technical knowledge with management know-how. Industrial production managers oversee manufacturing and plant operations, coordinating, planning, and directing the activities necessary to create goods. Supply chain managers, or logisticians, analyze and coordinate the supply chains of organizations. And business analysts explore new paths in efficiency and profitability.
Online MBA Programs in Manufacturing
These accredited business schools offer online MBA degree programs with concentrations/specializations in manufacturing:
- University of Scranton Online MBA in Operations Management: Learn how to make operations run smoothly in a manufacturing environment with this online program from the University of Scranton. Courses focus on project and quality management, and help students build both technical knowledge and business skills.
- Southern New Hampshire University MBA in Operations & Supply Chain Management: Southern New Hampshire’s online program in operations and supply chain management offers a pathway to upper-level positions in manufacturing, including operations, production, and distribution. With this degree, you’ll better understand how procurement, planning, and management work in the big picture.
Health Care MBAs
Health care needs MBAs now more than ever before. With an aging population, medical costs on the rise, and new reform, medicine is an industry full of growth and transition, and MBAs can help with new challenges. Hospitals and health care providers are trying to cut costs while still delivering good care. Health care costs have increased an average of 2.5% more than the U.S. GDP since 1970. That rate shows no signs of slowing down, but MBAs have the knowledge to make it happen.
Doctors and nurses provide health care, but MBAs make hospitals work. Medical professionals often take a reactive approach to work, focusing on providing the best care to the patient they’re seeing for the next 15 to 30 minutes. That’s effective for individual patients, but MBAs are necessary for proactive thinking. Health care needs MBAs to consider the big picture and long term goals, like maximizing preventive care and patient efficiency.
With a health care MBA, graduates are prepared to take on one of the most intricate and dynamic industries in the world. “(Health care’s) growing scope and complexity fuel demand for leaders with both business acumen and keen industry insight,” explains Duke University associate dean for career management Sheryle Dirks. LeClair agrees. “Given recent health care reform legislation and the attendant tiered implementation efforts, for organizations to survive this rapidly changing environment, it is important to plan strategically both for the change and to maintain the standards of quality, cost controls, and effectiveness,” she said.
Health care MBA programs prepare students for careers in senior-level health care management. In many programs, students are able to learn from a multi-pronged approach that represents the needs of health care today. That’s evident in programs like the Duke Health Care Sector MBA, which offers students an interdisciplinary approach to learning that leverages the university’s capabilities in business education, research, and clinical care. Students work closely with faculty, industry leaders, and providers to explore health care’s most pressing issues through a multi-faceted lens.”
Hot Jobs for Health Care MBAs
Major employers for Health Care MBAs include hospitals and large health organizations, as well as biomedical startups and pharmaceutical research and development. A third of Kaiser Permanente‘s 16,000 to 18,000 new positions each year are in management and operations. Hospital Corporation of America is the largest private operator of health care facilities in the world, and targets new MBAs with a special executive development program. Biotech giant Amgen is eager to hire management grads as well with an MBA Leadership Program and summer internships.
Many graduates of health care MBA programs are also finding that their degree opens options beyond major health care organizations. “Students are reflecting a trend of choice: they are choosing to move from a corporate atmosphere to a more altruistic, people-centered atmosphere,” says LeClair.
Popular jobs for health care MBA graduates include hospital management and administration, health care financial management, and health services management. Hospital administrators make sure that facilities provide the best, most efficient care possible. This career is believed to be among the best jobs in America. Financial managers may find more opportunity in health care organizations than Wall Street, as hospitals are becoming competitive in hiring financial managers who oversee patient billing, health care value, and profitability.
Online MBA Programs in Healthcare
These AACSB-accredited business schools offer online MBA degree programs with concentrations/specializations in health care:
- Northeastern University Online MBA Healthcare Management Specialization: Northeastern University’s healthcare management MBA encourages students to understand the business of health care not just today, but throughout history, educating the next generation of health care reform leaders.
- George Washington University Healthcare MBA Online: This two year online program combines a traditional MBA program with 12 elective classes that explore management in nearly every health care setting, including hospitals, physician practices, and skilled nursing facilities.
Technology has allowed us to store and search the entirety of human knowledge. It’s allowed us to reach the moon and build a national highway system. These feats don’t happen without scientists and engineers, but they don’t happen without effective management, either. This industry needs professionals with technical know-how to dream up the ideas that can develop into these major human accomplishments, but also need managers that can follow through to make dreams and ideas a reality. Innovation is everywhere, and technology is not just a field for scientists and programmers anymore. Managers are needed to turn big ideas into real, concrete products and services.
There’s big business in technology, reaching practically every industry in the world from education to communications and manufacturing. Business and technology are increasingly intertwined, and organizations need leaders that can understand both. Business professionals in the tech world can offer insight into cost, customers, and trends. MBAs can guide startups and bring business sense to scientific minds. There’s no end to the potential value that management professionals can bring to technology, whether they’re working on government contracts or growing companies from the dorm room to the board room.
Technology, and the high tech industry in particular, is growing three times faster than other areas of the private sector in the United States. MBAs who haven’t thought of technology as a career choice should think again: the technology industry has grown rapidly in recent decades, and data indicates that there’s still room for plenty more.
High tech businesses realize the value of MBAs in their organizations, so it’s no wonder that there’s a 22% growth in hiring MBAs, and a 70% success rate for job offers among MBAs pursuing technology positions. Even for currently working technology professionals, an MBA can open up doors to new areas of IT, or even allow a tech MBA to climb the ladder to CIO or CTO. And this climb can happen practically anywhere, as 98% of U.S. counties have at least one high tech business establishment.
Technology MBAs allow graduates to take on managerial positions in tech fields, bringing life to innovations and maximizing the potential of new and existing technology. MBA grads in this field “know how to effectively integrate and manage technology within an organization and understand the strategic management principles that need to be applied to develop, implement and overcome the challenges associated with innovative technology and change,” says LeClair of the school’s Technology Management MBA.
Hot Jobs for Technology MBAs
Graduates of technology MBA programs often go on to work for major employers including Microsoft, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and Google, but there are also exiting opportunities in growing startups and incubators.
Technology management MBA grads are often currently-working tech professionals seeking promotion in the field. With this degree, they can move up to positions including systems management, systems analysts, and even IT directors or chief technology officers (CTO). Systems managers determine the information technology goals of an organization and oversee the work of the IT department. Chief technology officers focus on the scientific and technological issues of an organization at the executive level.
Online MBA Programs in Information Technology
These accredited business schools offer online MBA degree programs with concentrations/specializations in information technology:
- SUNYIT Online MBA in Technology Management: State University of New York’s Institute of Technology offers a completely online technology management program. This degree brings management essentials together with a focus on technology in today’s work environment.
- Capella University Online MBA in Information Technology Management: Capella University’s IT management MBA program recognizes the expanded use of information technology throughout the world, and especially in business. With this degree program, students can develop skills in both business and technological advancement.
- In addition to Technology Management MBAs, traditional MBAs from schools with a tech focus like Stanford and MIT allow students to earn an MBA in the heart of tech entrepreneurship hubs.
MBA careers are more competitive now than ever before. In recent years, we’ve seen an a record jump in the number of MBA graduates, and companies just aren’t hiring MBAs like they used to. But top management talent can hedge against this competition by pursuing specialized programs in growth industries that go beyond the typical MBA track. Consider what an MBA in a growth industry can do for your career.
Contributed by Janet Williamson, www.OnlineMBA.com