You’re at the top of your game in your engineering field: solving problems, creating products, and applying what you learned from your graduate degree.
But now it feels like it ’s time to move up in the world, get more responsibility, and earn more money—but what’s the next step?
Some engineers take a master’s in engineering degree at this point to improve their technical skills. Yet many engineers are also turning to business schools for MBA programs to step up their management skills.
Which path has greater benefits to your career progression? There’s some uncertainty as to whether an MBA is the right graduate program for engineers.
So, to help you make an informed decision, we’ll take a deep dive into:
- The engineer’s career path
- Pros and cons of an MBA in the engineering field
- Which way to go to take your career to the next level
Let’s get to it.
Understanding the Engineer With an MBA Career Path
Your undergraduate degree empowers you with quantitative and problem-solving skills to get you into entry-level jobs.
To stay competitive, you’re required to get a professional-level engineering qualification to earn your professional certification.
You can continue to work quite comfortably with these credentials. However, when you feel a tingling desire to run after bigger things like promotions and more senior roles, you’ll need to take your learning a notch up.
At this point, you have two options. To pursue an advanced degree in a strictly engineering field or broaden your horizons via the MBA route.
If you follow the MBA path, you go through rigorous training in business acumen, project management, human resources, negotiation, and other soft skills.
These skills combined with your engineering smarts catapult you into senior roles in engineering, senior administration, and managing teams.
This is because you offer the best of both worlds to your employer—you’re a first-rate engineer with fluency in corporate and business language.
You can land yourself roles like:
- Project Quality Manager
- Product or Production manager
- Mechanical Engineering Principal Director
Picture it this way; your career progression is akin to scaling a high-rise building. Everyone starts on the ground floor with basic engineering qualifications. Gaining more experience and education unlocks the access cards to higher floors.
Without an MBA, your access can be capped at senior engineering-only roles. Whereas an MBA unlocks access to higher executive roles in business administration and engineering management.
Engineering MBA Salary
The median salary for engineers with an MBA degree stands at around $100,000 per annum. Individual statistics may differ depending on the specific MBA program.
According to statistics from Payscale, the salary scale for an MBA engineer is an average of $111,000 per year. Here are some average salaries for different sectors.
- Principal Electrical Engineer $138,860
- Senior Mechanical Engineer $98,221
- Product Management Director $146,784
- Process Development Engineer $78,083
- Program Manager Engineering $111,087
Other salary statistics peg the salary for MBA engineers at between $130,462 and $138,960 each year.
Statistics also show that holders of MBA engineering management degrees were reported to earn an average of $94,000 per annum.
Some job titles for MBA in engineering management holders include:
- Manufacturing engineer $74,100
- Business Manager $132,329
- Software Engineering Manager $78,990
- Senior Quality Engineer $71,927
- Senior Electrical Engineer $98,380
- Sales Engineering Manager $81,088
Engineer With No MBA vs. MBA Salary
Reports from The Bureau of Labor Statistics show that engineers with a Bachelor’s degree make at least 13% less than those with an MBA. For instance, mechanical engineers with a bachelor’s degree earn an average of $88,570 annually.
In contrast, engineering managers in the civil and architectural field made about $149,530 per year on average.
The table below summarises some key salary differences for MBA vs. non-MBA engineers.
5 Benefits of an Engineering MBA
Apart from the salary gap, here are some of the main reasons why an MBA is a worthwhile investment.
An MBA Gives You a Deeper Understanding of Business
The business environment is complex. From dealing with forecasts about spending, warding off competitors, and managing projects, it often demands a lot from managers.
To succeed in a management role, you’ll need to be well versed in all the aspects that make the business flow.
MBA programs can help you gain an in-depth understanding of how businesses work. The courses take a deep dive into modules like:
- Strategic management
- Accounting for non-financial managers
- The business environment
- Risk management
- Business ethics and leadership
With these skills, you’re better placed to fully deliver shareholder value, making you a valuable asset to any team.
In addition, an MBA degree will help hone your people skills through courses like communication and human resource management. That way, you can effectively manage the personnel management element of managerial roles.
An MBA Can Give Weight to Your Entrepreneurial Drive
As an engineer, you have a logical problem-solving mindset designed to bring solutions to complex problems. This technical point of view usually plants ideas and concepts for new products and solutions in your mind.
However, potentially great ideas can fizzle out if you don’t launch them into the business world properly.
With an MBA from a top business school, you can gain the know-how and confidence you need to start the ball rolling on your project. Plus, learning about financial positions can help you figure out how to prepare the right documentation to entice investors into giving you funding.
In addition, once you launch, you’re equipped to keep abreast of your financial situation, helping you transform your ideas into a profitable business.
MBA’s Improve Your Career Options
An MBA adds weight to your resume that attracts quality employers. Big corporations often look for candidates with a mix of technical expertise and business skills to fill managerial posts.
Having an MBA inspires confidence in your employers, making you eligible to qualify for promotions when the opportunity arises.
You’ll be regarded as an engineering management expert with a title to prove it.
An MBA Helps You Switch to Active Learning Mode
From as early as the 1900’s, educators like Edgard Dale discovered that idly listening to information isn’t the best method of teaching and learning.
The nature of a good MBA program follows an active learning path. This simply means the mode of instructions doesn’t passively feed you information.
Instead, it focuses on active engagement through case studies, role play, discussions, and similar methods.
Throughout the studies, your mind remains in active learning mode. How does this help you?
With active learning mode, your mind retains more knowledge. On top of that, you’ll find it easier to relate real-life work experiences to your learning.
By forming those active connections between the workplace and your studies, you’ll find applying knowledge to tasks a breeze.
An MBA, therefore, puts you in the right position to actively apply knowledge in the workplace.
Quantic’s MBA degree is all about active learning. The online MBA platform is designed to prompt learners to engage after every 8 seconds.
Plus, it allows you to give feedback about your progress throughout. The system will only allow you to proceed to the next level when you’ve mastered the previous one.
That way, you stay engaged, and by the end of the course, you can be sure to have grasped all that you need to.
With an MBA, You Can Tap Into Pedagogical Advancements
Pedagogy refers to methods of teaching and learning. In its advanced form, pedagogy is student-centered. It focuses on the student mastering the concepts, not on passing a test.
Gaining an MBA qualification through an advanced pedagogy-based program like Quantic’s MBA gives you the best learning opportunity.
It’s no secret that how you learn influences how you teach. When you employ these teaching and learning techniques in your role as a manager, you become better at imparting instructions, helping and grooming subordinates, and inspiring teamwork.
All these factors contribute together to making you an outstanding leader in your field.
Quantic MBAs Have Already Helped Students To Advance Their Careers
Our student spotlight articles highlight how the revolutionary Quantic MBA is helping engineers advance their careers.
- This article highlights the story of Patrick Glauner, an alumnus of Quantic’s mobile-friendly MBA program, who also holds a PhD in computer science. Patrick’s decision to pursue an MBA was driven by his desire to gain management skills that would enable him to oversee cross-functional teams and move into leadership positions. His technical training and MBA education helped him secure a management job at a major mechanical engineering company, Krones, and later start his own AI consulting company, skyrocket.ai.
- Renee Fishel’s story shows how an MBA degree can be an effective tool for engineers looking to advance their careers into leadership and managerial roles. As an Engineering Manager at IBM, Fishel credits her Quantic MBA with formalizing her leadership instincts and differentiating her from her colleagues. She also emphasizes the role of leadership in building diverse teams and fostering a more inclusive environment, which is especially important in male-dominated industries.
- You can read about Richard Lim’s experience here. Richard is a Technical Architect at Salesforce and the article explains why he chose to pursue an MBA with Quantic. It details his experience with the program; as someone in technical field who has found value in pursuing an MBA.
Cons of an Engineering MBA
You have to look at both sides of the coin to settle for the best decision. So let’s get into the cons of an MBA.
MBA’s Are Expensive
The cost of getting an MBA runs into hundreds of thousands and can make a sizable dent in your pocket.
The table below looks at the fee structure for an MBA program at selected colleges.
|Tuck School of Business||$118,047|
|Harvard Business School||$111,542|
|Kelley College of Business||$78,678|
For online courses, here’s what you can expect to pay.
|University of Wisconsin||$78,288|
|Harvard Business Online||$73,440|
|Florida Institute of Technology||$32,256|
In contrast, Quantic’s MBA program is emphatically affordable. For $950 USD per month over the 14-month duration of the program, you get access to a top-rated online MBA program. In addition, case-by-case scholarships are available to help cover the cost of tuition.
It’s Difficult to Find the Time to Complete MBA Classes
An MBA is demanding. The sheer volume of content, especially in unfamiliar business concepts, can drown you in hours of work. If you take an in-class program, juggling work and finding time for classes is a tall order.
When comparing a traditional MBA degree vs. an online MBA program, the latter gives you more leeway to work around your schedule.
However, even with online studies, if the course is dense, packed with dull lectures, and lacking engagement, it’ll overburden you. As an MBA student with an engineering background, you need a course designed to allow you to thrive.
Quantic’s MBA is structured in such a way that you can consume the material in bite-sized chunks. In addition, the interactive platform and active learning component make it easier and faster to grasp. You can get your MBA or EMBA in 14 months.
An MBA Won’t Help if Your Career Has Already Progressed High Enough
The longer you work in your field of engineering, you gain experience and valuable skills. Through this experience, you can move up the pecking order into a senior managerial post.
When you’ve reached this point in your career, you may already be too high up the ladder; there isn’t anywhere else to go.
Getting an MBA when you’ve already climbed that far would only be an unnecessary cost. MBAs are more suited for engineers who still have some way to go to get to the top.
An MBA Isn’t Necessary if You Plan on Sticking to Technical Skills
MBA programs are explicitly designed to teach the language of business like business economics and international business.
If you’re more concerned with staying on the technical side and not in managing the business affairs, then the MBA may not be of much use to you.
For instance, if you’d rather stay in a traditional engineering firm or stick to the hands-on side of things, then focus on expanding your technical engineering education.
That said, if you still have an appetite for an MBA, here’s what you’ll get.
MBA Course Curriculum & Syllabus for Engineers
A good MBA degree should include critical core and elective courses like the following:
- Business. Your role in management will involve preparing forecasts for the business, like how much of the product you need to make. You’ll also handle the finances and get involved in the marketing of the product, so you need to gain the right business skills necessary to hold up the role.
- Strategy. Without proper strategic planning and project management, any organization will fall flat on its face. That’s why, when you transition into a leadership role, you need to be equipped with business management skills.
With accurate planning skills and your engineering management know-how, you can steer the organization in the right direction.
- Decision making. With the cutthroat competition in business, you have to be able to make critical decisions quickly. A good MBA program includes a statistics and data analytics component to help you with cost-benefit analysis.
- Leadership. Managing people and resources is a critical part of a manager’s role. Resources are often scarce, and a diverse pool of different personalities takes a lot of effort to harmonize.
An MBA includes leadership as part of the business education to empower MBA students to ace engineering management positions.
MBA vs. Masters In Engineering
The choice between an MBA or a Master’s in engineering comes down to your career goals.
If your aim is to lead the organization in a position requiring a technical and business touch, you can lean towards an MBA degree to advance your career progression.
On the other hand, if you see yourself strictly as a scientist responsible for leading in a technical role, a master’s in engineering would be more suited to your goals.
MBA Programs for Engineers
You can launch your path to executive-level engineering management roles through an MBA with one of three options.
- A part-time or full-time in-class MBA with 20 to 25 fixed lectures per week for 12 to 21 months.
- An online option that gives you lectures, course materials, and exams for a minimum of 18 months.
- An online flexible MBA like Quantic’s MBA for 5 to 15 hours per week for a maximum of 14 months.
You can opt for the traditional in-class and online options, but they’ll cost you an arm and a leg.
A Quantic MBA offers the same recognized MBA qualification for a fraction of the cost. In addition, you get access to a fully interactive platform that’ll make learning simpler.
Plus, you’ll get the papers to qualify for senior-level engineering management roles in no time. Apply now to get started with Quantic’s online MBA program.