The Long-Term Career Benefits of an MBA for Career Success and Satisfaction

Most people don’t want to go back to school. It’s hard. Expensive. And you! You’re a busy professional. Some days, you barely have time to brush your teeth. Getting a Masters's degree sounds outlandish and absurd.

And yet, you know that getting your MBA can be a great way to ensure career advancement. Is it worth the hassle? In this article, we take a look at the long-term benefits of getting your MBA.

What is the ROI of an MBA?

That’s the bottom line, isn’t it? You are a business person, after all. Studies show that people with an MBA make up to 40% more than people working in the same jobs with only a bachelor’s degree. Of course, actual numbers will vary. Still, it seems that most people can leverage their MBA into a better salary.


Most people find that they are eligible for a raise the moment they graduate. Once you’ve gotten your diploma, you can go to your current employer, and use it to negotiate a salary increase.

Why do they care, really? I can’t imagine them handing out raises just to give me a pat on the back.

It’s not quite so altruistic as that. Most businesses would probably be happy to forgo the raise entirely if they could get away with it. However, in the job market, you are a commodity. With an MBA, you’ve made yourself scarcer, and in higher demand.

Most businesses want MBAs because they know more and perform better. Not everyone can get them. Your existing employer knows that if they don’t pay you more, someone else will.

Be reasonable. You aren’t going to double your salary overnight. Ask for a little more than you expect to get, and go from there.

It can help the negotiation process to have another job offer on the table. “Company X is willing to pay me this much. If you can match that, I will stay.” Just be sure that you are actually willing to follow through if you choose this negotiation tactic.

You’ll Be Better at Your Job

Not to toot my own horn, but I’m actually already very good at my job.

Toot as much as you need to. Confidence is important. Here’s the thing. Business changes. If you got your degree ten years ago, you probably don’t have the most up-to-date understanding of your field. Technology develops. Best practices shift.

And even if you have assiduously followed industry trends, you probably can’t prove your devotion in a way that will count from your employer’s perspective. Getting an advanced degree doesn’t just help you upskill. It also verifies that you’ve put the work in.

You Can Pivot

MBAs also give you the chance to pivot into something a little different. Maybe you want to emphasize the technological aspect of your job. Maybe you want to shift more into administrative responsibilities. Maybe— well. You get it.

There are many different types of MBA programs. If you already have a degree in business, you will probably be eligible for most of them. You don’t need to feel married to what you are doing right now. You could even change lanes into education. You know all those people who taught you while you were in business school? Those were MBAs living out their degrees.

Choose something that blows your hair back. Life is too short for boring jobs.

Improved Career Mobility

MBAs are also the natural choice for leadership positions. Some jobs literally require the holder to have an MBA, and pretty much all of them want one if they can get it. Getting an MBA is a smart move for people who want to move up in their existing careers.

That said, it can’t be the first and last step you make. Pursue leadership opportunities at every turn. Demonstrate your confidence in putting forward ideas. Your willingness to listen to and work well with others. Checking the “MBA” box on your employer's list of criteria is great but it will only get you so far. Show them you are management material by being a strong leader every day on the job.

Career Satisfaction?

It’s harder to pinpoint the career satisfaction benefits of getting your MBA. Two things make it complicated: • Two-thirds of MBAs report that they are satisfied with their careers. That’s a decent chunk of change higher than the 49% of the general population who claims the same thing. Now, we know what you’re thinking. What’s complicated about that? Well… • They say they appreciate the same things as everyone else. MBAs report being satisfied with workplace friendships, career advancement, and recognition from their employers. The very same factors that contribute to workplace satisfaction in other people.

*I’m not sure I see the problem. *

It’s not a problem. However, it is true that these facts don’t necessarily support one another. Most MBAs are happy with their jobs. They are happy with them for the same reasons that people who don’t have MBAs are happy with their jobs.

Looking at that, a person might not feel motivated to take three years and $40 thousand in loans to get an MBA. Here’s the missing ingredient: most MBAs were already satisfied with their careers before they got their degree. Not exactly a twist worthy of The Usual Suspects, but there it is. Getting an MBA is hard. People do it anyway because they feel strongly about their careers and want to do everything they can to nurture and support them.

It seems to follow that only a certain type of person should explore the possibilities of an MBA to boost their career satisfaction. If you are already satisfied and want to deepen your connections to your career, continuing your education is a good way to do it. If, however, you are on the fence about work, think your MBA through carefully.

It’s not unheard of for people who don’t love their jobs to continue getting new certifications and degrees. However, upskilling is also a great way to pivot into new careers. As you consider your MBA, don’t feel married to studying something within your current wheelhouse. Many opportunities can come from an MBA. Find the one that works for you.

Andrew Deen