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Degrees and certifications can play a key role for professionals eager to advance their IT careers. Some jobs require the completion of one or more courses, and business decision-makers will frequently favor those who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing their knowledge and skills.
One of the most noteworthy degrees in this arena is the MBA. While obviously not a prerequisite for IT professionals, many have long seen the MBA as an invaluable asset, one which could help these workers to advance their careers further than would ever be possible otherwise.
However, this conventional wisdom is no longer universally accepted. As Computerworld India recently highlighted, industry experts now disagree wildly about the value of MBAs for aspiring IT professionals.
MBA for IT—an asset or irrelevant?
The change in attitudes toward MBAs for IT workers was emphasized by Chris Duchesne, vice president of global workplace solutions for Care.com.
"Seeing an MBA on a resume used to mean candidates would get a de facto stamp of approval, but because of how rapidly how things change in the technology and business world today, those in positions to hire tend to look at candidates' knowledge and achievements when filling a role, and use their ability to adapt and change to suit a challenging market as a predictor of future capabilities," Duchesne explained, the news source reported. "[J]ust having an MBA won't necessarily give you an edge anymore."
Striking a somewhat similar note, Rona Borre, founder and CEO of IT hiring and recruiting for Instant Technology, told Computerworld India that a major factor affecting an MBA's value for IT professionals is when the degree was earned.
"Anyone who just comes out of college and goes straight into an MBA program will certainly have the book learning, but they don't have relative work experience in an actual business environment," Borre explained, according to the news source. "But in senior leadership, if you got your MBA while working, and you are able to take the information you learned and are applying that to real life situations and learn from those experiences, that's a huge advantage."
However, Borre was quick to emphasize that MBAs can indeed serve as differentiators for IT workers. She noted that many companies are understaffed when it comes to IT, and consequently they are forced to promote IT employees to leadership positions before they might be ready. If one candidate has an MBA, though, that individual will have demonstrable preparation for these responsibilities.
Making your way in the IT world
This debate makes the case in favor of MBAs for IT workers far less clear cut. If you are an IT professional looking to advance your career, how can you decide whether to pursue such a degree or not?
Part of this calculation must rest on where you want your IT career to progress. The growing role played by technology throughout organizations has led to many C-level executives and other managers with IT backgrounds. If you aim to fill such a position yourself, an MBA can be an invaluable asset. However, if you hope to remain more focused on the IT side of things, then it may not be worthwhile to devote the time, money and effort to attaining such a degree.
To better make this decision, you should consider partnering with a dedicated IT staffing agency. These firms have experts on hand who can not only help you find new and exciting career opportunities in IT, but who can also assist your overall development as an IT professional.