The Value of an MBA in IT

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item The Value of an MBA in IT

    |Ted Pin >>

  • Wow Ted, this is a question I've been asking for years. I've know IT people that got masters in both business and/or technology and what I've discovered is that they're no smarter because they obtained a masters. The same applies to folks attending "elite" schools vs good old State U. After all, an education isn't what you get by attending college, instead it's what you earn by doing the work. Examine the motivation behind the degree and not the brand of the degree.

    I live in Dallas Texans and have a coworker that want's to get and MBA from the Cox School at SMU because they have a higher "brand recognition" than The University of Texas at Dallas. I'm not knocking SMU or UTD as they are both fine institutions offering a top notch education. UTD is simply a much lower cost option especially when you throw in the employer match. My point isn't the value of the school but he motivation of the student. This person is a lazy person and a sloppy programmer (and no longer works at this company). I assume this person will put the same level of effort into the MBA program as they did with their code.

    My advise would be to pursue a graduate degree based on personal motivation. If that's because of bigger bucks then fine, if it's because you want to learn even better. There are bigger bucks at the end of it but it's a long payback period. Going so you can learn has value from the beginning of your first class. Both turned out to be true in my situation. Next stop PhD -- because I want it.

    Remember, this opinion is just an opinion and doesn't pretend to be a fact.

    --Paul Hunter

  • You know the world of work is a funny place. A top notch IT professional without an MBA will not command a salary nor will he command the clout that an IT professional with an MBA will command, even if that MBA holder is terrible in his work. The business will recognize him, simply because they PERCIEVE that he knows IT and he knows business, and that translates to more money.

    So if I had a shot a doing an MBA, I would, not because I think it's a fulfilling experience, but simply because of the perception that is will bring for me and of course, the money:D.

  • So many times I witness MBA employees come and go. I guess its just a name these days, as MBA is getting so common, and some even buy it.

    I think at the end of the day, intelligence coupled with experience is what matters. If a person feels that he needs to add more suffixes to his name, fine, if it will help him get more recognition or $$. Just dont let it dominate your name 🙂

    Jumping jobs I think is the best option to get more $$.

  • My wife wanted me to get an MBA. I pointed out that I would either have to quit my job, or spend evenings and weekends for the next several years going to school. Given that I am not particularly interested in being a manager (I know my limitations, and I would be a bad manager), and that I already have a CPA license, even though its inactive, getting an MBA would not add value to what I do, which is design, build, and support financial systems.

    Others may see it differently, but if you aren't interested in management, there's not a lot of IT value in getting an MBA. You would be better served talking your employer into putting you in a business job for a year or two.

  • I got my MBA before I got into IT. My undergrad background was in mechanical engineering, and I had little knowledge of the business side, so I thought the MBA would give me a well-rounded education, and it did. It was fun and I learned a great deal (I like to learn new things). For a while I had ideas about going into management, but like others here, I am very hands on and like building things, so sitting in meetings all day doesn't work for me.

    I got into IT because of the declining manufacturing opportunities in this country. IT is similar to engineering to me in that I still get to work on technical things and build things. Having the business background has helped me immensely in developing business-related applications and databases. Also, project planning and organization, team building, cost-benefit analysis, marketing (got to sell your ideas to the business side) are all skills that my MBA contributed to.

    Investment-wise, my MBA probably hasn't provided much of a return that I couldn't have gotten otherwise, but the experience of getting it and knowledge I gained was worth it. Not everything in life can be measured in $$$$ (although some people insist on doing it)...for some of us, that isn't the primary motivation for doing things.

    If it was easy, everybody would be doing it!;)

  • I'm not sure of the 60 to 130k estimate, but that is a lot higher than most I know of, assuming you are still working and the majority of cost assumed is for tuition and books. My guess is that is for private school programs and includes room and board.

    The Harvard MBA tutition is currently around $44k per year (room and board can double this, but for the purpose of this discussion, I would assume you are working/going to school nearby)

    State colleges for in-state students are considerably less - here in Georgia 8-10k on average.

    So assuming one continues to work, and the incremental costs are primarily tutition, books and perhaps auto expenses, I think a more reasonable estimate is closer to 25k, giving a much shorter ROI.

    Ostensibly if one is interested in what an MBA offers they are also interested in the business/operational aspects vs just the technical aspects. Like many (most?) degrees/certs, an MBA can be the differentiator that helps you stand out and get that next job. It sure won't hurt, but how much it helps is upto you.

  • I liked the geology comment. My sister went to Brandon but majored in music, too bad she was more interested in violins than rocks. Heck, my neighbour hadn't even finished his geology degree and turned down an offer from a major mining company to go work for a smaller one. I'm back in the industry too. Working in mining is a boom or bust thing though, but hey, let the good times roll!

  • I have looked into both an MBA program and an IT Masters level and have applied for the Masters program that has a management track. It is not nearly as expensive as you state. The online MBA from UMass would cost about $26,000 and you attend entirely online. I have signed up for an online Masters from Brandeis at a similar cost. Again, no need to go on-campus.

    Another factor you seemed to have missed in your investment analysis is that my employer will pay 100% of the bill (many others have similar programs). If you apply that value to you financial analysis and assume it takes three years to complete that's like getting an instant 8% increase in income and then when you graduate you can see that continue (as per your article and the 8% you site).

    So you learn more and you end up earning more!

    do it right, or do it over and over, it's up to you

  • I agree with Paul Hunter. An MBA without Motivation is usesless. I have seen lot of MBA candidates and most I have seen having degrees from online universities like City University. I dont see the point of it. In a larger company climbing up the chanin is not based on if you have a MBA degree but what can you do for the company to make it more profitable. That skill cannot be acquired by an MBA degree. Ultimately if a person has the skills he will make it. An MBA is no panancea for a higher salary.



  • I couldn't help but respond to today's article because it struck so close to home. I start work on my graduate degree this fall. Basically, I'm going for two reasons. One, because I have a partial scholarship paying half. Secondly, because, as with industry certifications, degrees allow for more options down the road. They provide ammo for those new job interviews. I especially liked the comment about moving jobs frequently. I am a prime example of what can be accomplished by changing up jobs, instead of waiting for those slow, might-not-come raises. When I restarted my IT career after my Navy discharge, I was only able to find a job at $35K doing help desk work. I slugged it out with the Microsoft Training Kits and lots of practice until I earned my first certification. That netted me a new job at $45K eight months later as an Asst. DBA. I continued to slug it out with the rest of the MCITP cert line until it was fully earned. Six months later I was approached with a Senior DBA/Software Engineer position that nearly doubled my income. All of this occurred without the B.S. degree. Imagine the possibilities with certs, a Bachelor's degree, AND a Master's degree. I figure as long as I continue to stock the resume with ammo, I will always keep multiple options on the table.

  • I've always wanted an MBA, but I realized about 8 or 9 years ago that the payback wasn't there. Shortly thereafter I started this site and perhaps got a business education from the school of hard knocks.

    Checking this am on prices, I found for Executive MBAs:

    my alma mater, UVA - $102,000

    U of Colorado - $57,000

    U of Denver - $61,500

    That's a lot of investment and it would definitely have to be a personal reason to do that. I have had quite a few employers pay for coursework, however, so that would make a difference. A few friends took advantage of that, even staying beyond the time they might otherwise have at a job to finish their degree.

  • I ended up starting a MS in Computer Science once I got into the field. The cost/benefit analysis was a moot point - the company I worked for paid for everything (tuition, fees, books, etc.). I think that would put things over the edge for anyone thinking about going back for a higher degree. If you're an employee, and the company offers tuition reimbursement for some portion (preferably 100%!!) of your cost, then it tips the scales. Especially since you can work and gain experience while you are getting your degree, then hopefully be able to use that at work to either move up - or as leverage for more money since it should be easier to find a higher paying job elsewhere.

    Jumping jobs may be an easy way to find a more lucrative position, but keep in mind that hiring managers tend to frown on applicants that move around a lot; especially if they are looking to fill a staff position - and not a consultant spot.

  • I have been considering getting an MBA for several years now (about 7 years). My kids are now older, and while I thought that once they reached middle school/high school age, they would need me less, but they actually need me around more (sports, music lessons, and general social life of my 2 kids takes up a lot of time). I am considering going through an online program to obtain a Master's degree. Also, while an employer may provide tuition reimbursement, they also may have a commitment requirement associated with that. My employer has a 3-year commitment requirement when you accept tuition reimbursement, or you have to pay the money back to them. This has been the main reason I have not started my Masters, is because I do not want to make the commitment of staying with this employer for 3 years. Something to consider.....

  • The link to the Bloomberg article made me laugh out loud. My degrees are both in geology and I worked as a geologist for a couple years before switching to IT about 10 years ago during a slump in the oil industry. My salary almost doubled when I switched to IT.

    Maybe it's time to switch back 😉

    More on topic - I think the reason to go get any degree is because you want to learn. If you have interest in starting your own business at any point or moving more into a general managerial role, then an MBA might make sense (and to those who said you have to quit your job, there are many PMBA programs at night for working professionals, but those don't leave you much time for family and "life").

    Anye Mercy
    "Service Unavailable is not an Error" -- John, ENOM support
    "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." -- Inigo Montoya in "Princess Bride"
    "Civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice." -- Will Durant

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