Management: A Bullish Degree for a Bearish Economy?
In a bearish economy, pursuing your degree in management is still a bullish move. Learn how the right education can help you get the right career.
To say these are uncertain times is no mere understatement. With talk of bailouts, back outs, and the specter of depression hovering above, Americans are feeling insecure about their financial futures.
The recession that followed the 9/11 attacks birthed a similar bout of national anxiety. A peculiar outcome of which was the premature obituary written for the venerable management degree. A Greek chorus of gloom crowed that the crowded halls of the nation's business schools meant value of the management degree was now in question.
Not so fast. While the job market certainly tightened, there is still high demand for management grads across the country.
The Future's Bright
For example, a study done by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) discovered that 57 percent of spring 2008 MBA grads landed job offers before graduation day. Additionally, GMAC reports starting salaries are up to $85,581 from $81,483 last year.
Let's dig a little deeper and consider eight jobs for which management can be a gateway degree. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts job growth to exceed national averages. Salaries, as well, should remain very attractive.
- Marketing managers. Job growth through 2016: 14 percent. 2007 median wages: $104,400.
- Sales managers. Job growth: 12 percent. Median wages: $94,910.
- Human resources managers: Job growth: 17 percent. Median wages: $92,710.
- Financial managers: Job growth: 13 percent. Median wages: $95,310.
- Engineering managers: Job growth forecast is 8 percent. Median wages in 2007 were $110,020.
- Natural science managers: Job growth: 11 percent. Median wages: $104,040.
- Health services managers: Job growth: 16 percent. Median wages: $76,990.
- Information systems managers: Job growth: 16 percent. Median wages: $108,070.
Words of Encouragement for MBA Seekers
No one is yet predicting a speedy or seamless turnaround for the economy. Perhaps this is a good thing if it helps future management grads to reframe their approach to a degree. "The instant gratification of the nineties has been replaced by an appreciation for the long term investment in human capital that a [management] degree offers," reasons David Wilson, CEO and president of GMAC.
Also encouraging is an increased emphasis on corporate ethics and governance in management programs, some of which sprung up in the wake of scandals like Enron. Today's management grads may be positioned to lead the charge for much-needed reform.
Business Week recently compiled a few tips from former management and MBA students who graduated into recession. These can be helpful in evaluating whether it's the right time for you to get a degree.
- Stick to what you know. A recession is not the time to try to reinvent your career. If you are approaching a management degree as a way to leap into a new industry, recognize you may face an uphill climb.
- Think small. When Wall Street titans are on hard times, it is not the optimal time to set them in your sights. Smaller companies may be more willing to hire and provide more flexibility to expand your skills once on board.
- Be realistic. Signing bonuses and big-time perks dry up when the economy gets shaky. Be sure your expectations are in line with industry realities.
"Going to business school is one of the best ways to improve your marketability and expand your options anytime--but especially in this challenging economic climate," says Wilson. "The [return on investment] on the [management] degree continues to be strong."