Pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can be a pivotal point in your career to gain leadership skills, learn about a new field and put your foot in the door for role advancement. For many students, it’s becoming important to specialize in a focused area to understand specific pain points and create a competitive advantage for future job prospects.
A number of employers are increasingly looking for candidates with MBAs, as they establish credibility and designate that the applicant has the knowledge and skills necessary to do the job. Let’s take a closer look at the specializations that you can pursue with University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business Online MBA degree and the prospects within these fields.
It’s often said that money makes the world go ’round, but deciding what to do with business revenue will truly make the difference in an organization’s continuity and success. With a specialization in finance, MBA holders can become advisers who create budgets and retirement plans for individual clients, or a company’s financial manager who guides strategic decisions for the future based on cash-flow statements and profit projections. Financial adviser and financial manager roles offer considerable opportunities, coming in at third and eighth place, respectively, on the U.S. News & World Report’s list of the Best Business Jobs for 2017.
Finance positions are increasingly demanded by employers, and many employers are willing to pay higher salaries for candidates that have the skills necessary for these jobs. By specializing in finance, MBA candidates will cover a number of necessary topics including stock market analysis, the global economy, financial instruments, risk management, bankruptcy and investment banking. Students can also gain skills related to market trading and volatility, as well as predicting futures and options. These traits can set you apart from other candidates in the field and supply you with the tools you need to successfully guide business decisions.
Experience will be a major factor in your annual income, but MBA holders can still expect to receive a respectable salary even in entry-level positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that there will be a seven to 16 percent increase in jobs for financial professions between 2014 and 2024. However, you should expect some serious competition for higher positions that are available.
Accountants oversee a wide range of financial information, and can work with businesses or individuals. These professionals prepare records, statements, and tax forms, review information for accuracy, and can collect and store financial data, among other duties. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 142,400 accountant job opportunities through 2024, marking an 11 percent increase in demand. For typical entry-level positions, accountants can expect to receive around $68,000 per year. An MBA with an accounting specialization can open advanced career opportunities in the field, accompanied by higher salary potential.
Being good with numbers is only part of the equation for accountants – these professionals must understand how to apply financial concepts to business cases and ensure that everything is traceable. Anyone pursuing an accounting specialization will take courses involving tax research, financial accounting and how various components of an accounting system work together. These subjects will include business law and ethics regarding accounting as well as financial statement reporting, risks, and interpretation of tax laws. Employers are increasingly looking for skilled accounting professionals, making it a lucrative field for potential candidates. MBA holders can use their accounting experience to open up other opportunities in the accounting field as well as paths in finance and financial management.
Whether you’re part of an established enterprise or looking to start your own business as an entrepreneur, marketing is absolutely essential for keeping revenue flowing. However, the state of attracting consumer attention has migrated far beyond radio spots, newspaper and magazine ads and television promotions. While these are still mainstays, the ways that people consume media and interact with organizations have significantly changed over the years. More people are turning to online content consumption, and 71 percent of total minutes using the internet in the U.S. are done using mobile devices, according to Smart Insights. The number of global users leveraging mobile devices is now outpacing desktop use, demonstrating a significant shift in technology preferences.
These changes mean a lot for businesses in the way that they serve and interact with customers as well as how they deliver marketing campaigns. In the constantly shifting world of technology evolution and consumer expectations, businesses are in more need of marketing experts than ever before. These professionals must be able to execute personalized campaigns, drive content that interests potential buyers and deliver promotions that will lead to sales conversions while ensuring consistent experiences across all mediums.
Marketing specializations can afford a number of opportunities for MBA candidates. Students will learn about specialized marketing fields, marketing channel strategies, forecasting, new product branding and marketing, international marketing and consumer insight strategy. Graduates can qualify for careers as brand managers and marketing managers and can use their skills for nearly any industry.
Information Systems and Business Analytics
As technology advances and cyber threats become more sophisticated, businesses are increasingly looking for professionals that can effectively manage and secure their sensitive assets. However, the number of available candidates for these positions cannot keep up with the rising demand. In addition, many employers are looking for the right applicant with experience and necessary skills, and are often willing to wait until they get a match.
An MBA specialization in information systems and business analytics can help you put your foot in the door for these widely coveted positions. MBA candidates in this track will take courses related to the management of these systems and methods for managerial decision-making. They’ll also have the choice of focused electives like application development, telecommunications management, network modeling, database management and e-commerce.
With all of the data the organizations collect, leaders are increasingly evaluating it to gain insights that will guide strategic decisions. However, with the complexity of big data and associated analytics tools, these efforts often require professionals to do the job effectively. By specializing in information systems and business analytics, you will learn about database management, data warehousing, data mining, logistics, and analytics.
Business leaders are increasingly looking for analytics experts to parse their data sets and lead strategic decisions. According to PayScale, business analysts earn $58,800 per year, on average, and the salary increases modestly for the first five to 10 years in the position. As data becomes more complex and abundant, business analytics professionals will continue to be essential for years to come.
Supply Chain Management
If you’ve ever wanted to play a bigger part in the behind-the-scenes lifeblood of an organization, supply chain management is the way to go. Supply chains consist of the many moving parts necessary to create or receive products and offer them to consumers. This includes maintaining relationships with vendors, ordering the right amount of inventory at the right time and ensuring that customers receive their goods on time. The specialization in supply chain management will teach students how to design transportation networks, mitigate operational risks, align processes, ensure cross-functional engagement and strategically reduce costs.
Even as overall U.S. job growth stagnates, the demand for supply chain managers continues to grow. The need for supply chain professionals, especially in logistics positions, is still expected to increase by 22 percent year-over-year, according to Supply Chain Quarterly. The transportation industry alone added more than 52,000 jobs between 2015 and 2016, showing the rising importance of effective delivery specialists. As businesses scale, hiring supply chain management experts will become a priority.
Pursuing a general MBA also has its merits for future leaders. Students learn necessary business skills and how to ask questions that lead to nuanced discussions. Generalist programs are designed to prepare you for the realities of business and how to grow beyond the scope of your role. With a general MBA, you can pursue careers in consulting and business operations management. You’ll have the option of working on your own or for a firm, providing a multitude of flexible possibilities for your career path. In turn, you will be able to help organizations become more efficient and profitable by identifying bottlenecks and areas that can cut costs.
General MBAs are powerful additions to businesses in that they expose students to a general understanding of the entire scope of competencies. In an interview, MBA program director Christo Nel suggested that this knowledge shifts the focus to problem- and work-based learning processes and enables students to build an integrated view of issues.
Each specialization requires a certain set of skills to be carried out effectively. Pursuing an MBA specialization through the online courses at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. School of Business will provide you the opportunity to open new career paths and gain essential skills for your future.