Career Corner: Should You Get an MBA? | AIChE

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Career Corner: Should You Get an MBA?

October
2016

In the April 2016 column, I wrote about transitioning to a career in sales engineering if you are drawn to the business side of chemical engineering. But what if you aspire to a senior management role or want to combine your technical smarts with well-rounded business expertise to pursue a management consulting, marketing, or financial services career? Then a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) may be right for you.

Many engineers choose to pursue an MBA on a part-time basis and their companies reimburse some or all of their tuition and fees. Others choose to leave the workforce temporarily to get their degree full-time and pay for the two-year program themselves. In either case, it can be an expensive undertaking, requiring an investment of both time and money. Before you jump in and start applying to schools, reflect on your career goals and carefully consider what pursuing this advanced degree will mean for you.

The situation is different for every engineer. Jim Dietz, for example, was a manager at Koppers, Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA), overseeing the work of a small team of engineers when he decided to apply to business school. “The head of the technology group was retiring and it became apparent that I wasn’t being considered for his position. I realized I wanted to take a different path, because I was hitting a dead end where I was....

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