SQLServerCentral Editorial

The Value of an MBA in IT


I recently read a Computer World article that cited a study touting the benefit of having an MBA in the IT industry. A two-year MBA degree would yield an average 8.2% increase in salary, as opposed to two years of extra experience, which would yield an average of 2.8%.

That sounds good. But the study, they admit, doesn't factor in the cost of getting an MBA. That got me thinking.

If you were a senior IT professional, making in the neighborhood of $100k, an 8.2% raise would equate to $8,200 per year.

That's pretty good. But factor in the cost of acquiring an MBA and the picture changes a little. Acquiring an MBA can cost anywhere between $60-130k for a two year program. This equates to a break-even period of between seven and 16 years in which to recoup your investment, assuming everything else remains constant.

But that's the rub - nothing has to stay constant. Don't get me wrong, my whole family has a tradition of graduate level education, but the Computer World article seems to suggest that an 8.2% increase is a substatial reason to get an MBA.

However, my experience has been that moving between jobs every few years can manifest salary increases of 20% or more, each move, if you play your cards right. Moving jobs, or being a consultant, also has the added benefit of greatly broadening your skills. (Obviously, the downside is you would have to move jobs every couple of years, or you might have to travel constantly. But for some, especially the younger generation, moving around is increasingly becoming the norm - and almost expected.)

Within a seven to 16 year period, one could move up the salary ladder many times, in many different ways, other than via an MBA. (Bloomberg says forget the MBA and become a geologist.)

So this begs the question: Why get an MBA in IT?

I imagine those who get one in IT did so to move up into management. However, for some of us, the reason we like IT is because we like being hands on with the technology. My father, a 30 year veteran DBA, turned down management positions for that reason.

If you have an MBA, has it helped you in your IT career? If so, how did you use it? Did you get it for the purpose of moving into a management position?

Ted Pin

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