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In a way, military service is the right way to prepare for a professional career. You learn technical skills, how to manage your time efficiently, and how to work with others toward a common goal. If every aspiring business professional had that kind of discipline, companies across America could make a net profit.
However, the transition from military service to a successful professional career is not always so straightforward. Many business-minded veterans pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree to expand their skill set. But other than looking good on paper, what can going from the military to MBA studies actually do for veterans? Which Experienced MBA Jobs Offer The Most Opportunities? And, more importantly, how do veterans even pay for business school in the first place?
by Sam Medley
How a Post-Military MBA Can Prepare Veterans for Business Leadership
If you’ve completed a four-year graduate program and spent time in the military, spending more time, money, and energy in school may seem impractical. There are tons of jobs available that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, so what’s the point of delaying your career now?
While many people can benefit from getting an MBA, the transition from military to MBA studies can especially help veterans:
- enhancing their earning potential. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, MBA grads can earn 22% to 40% more than those with bachelor’s degrees.
- Supporting their transition to civilian life. Business schools can help veterans apply their MOS to business careers. Someone serving as an Army IT specialist may have a good knowledge of military software, but may not necessarily be aware of the latest business technology. Earning an MBA with an emphasis on IT Management can bridge that gap.
- Providing networking opportunities. Military-friendly MBA programs often include networking events that connect veterans to veteran-owned businesses and the larger business community. That way, they can meet a cross section of like-minded post-military professionals and seasoned civilian business administrators.
- Offering flexible course schedules. Even some of the best online MBA programs for military veterans take only one to two years to complete. Most can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. This could allow veterans to either focus on earning their degrees as soon as possible or to reconnect with loved ones.
- Reducing financial commitments. Before the advent of online business schooling, pursuing a degree often meant relocating, paying for student housing, and investing in other things that are not at all related to learning about business administration. Now, they can get advanced degrees from fully accredited yet affordable business schools at no unnecessary cost. In addition, there is a wealth of financial aid and scholarship programs to help veterans succeed.
When students take advantage of these benefits, a Master of Business Administration degree can be more than an expensive piece of paper. It can be a toolkit that enables them to become successful leaders in today’s economy. In fact, many veterans have already gone the MBA route in the military and built thousands of businesses from the ground up.
According to the 2020 Census Bureau survey, there are over 332,000 Experienced-Owned Businesses in America. They represent almost every sector of the economy, from real estate to mining to entertainment. So for veterans who want to use their business degree to become an entrepreneur, there is hope for success and there is a huge support network available.
5 Top MBA Specialties for a Post-Army Career
Each branch of the military has military occupational specialty (MOS) or specific job titles for different members of the US Armed Services. Similarly, some military-friendly MBA programs offer specialties for veterans who want to move into specific industries. Each one comes with its own average salary and potential career opportunities.
Supply Chain Management and Logistics
Supply chain management is as important to the business world as it is to military operations. To maximize profits, companies need to get the right products at the right place at the right time. An experienced logistics manager can save companies millions and avert supply disasters.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that the supply logistics industry will grow 30% by 2030. According to the BLS, an increase of about 8% is average. For veterans with an MBA and real-world logistics experience, supply chain management can become a long, lucrative career.
Nothing works without cyber security. Credit card companies, banks and online retailers will all cringe over the data leak. While IT security teams should be filled with tech-savvy professionals, they should also be guided by leaders who know how to apply security measures to every aspect of a business.
Because of this, cyber security specialists earn an average salary of approx. $102,000 per year as per BLS. But they also say that the typical entry-level cybersecurity technician only has a bachelor’s degree and less than five years of relevant work experience. An MBA-holder veteran working in the Department of Defense’s cyber security projects can be positioned to play an integral role in almost any company they choose.
Economists often help top executives make decisions and solve problems based on consumer data and market trends. Like the military’s financial management technicians, they provide educated advice about everything related to budgeting and expenses.
The average salary of economists in 2021 was around $105,000 annual. Some work from home for corporations while others work in their own consulting firms. For veterans who want to start their own financial advisory agencies, an MBA in Economics can be an important first step.
computer and data science
In today’s world, artificial intelligence drives everything from video streaming services to financial planning software. For this to be possible, AI programs need data and lots of it. Computer and data science engineers mine that data, analyze it, and build sophisticated automated programs around it.
By 2021, the median annual salary for data scientists was about $100,000, But as more companies rely on programs built on data science techniques, there could be huge growth potential for veterans with data science MBAs and experience.
Marketing is the heart of all consumer-based businesses. A successful marketing manager helps teams with new advertising campaigns, finds new profitable markets, and is a driving force behind customer satisfaction.
For a veteran working in public relations or communications, getting a Marketing MBA can be a great way to translate those skills into the corporate world. almost $153,000Marketing managers have one of the higher BLS-reported median annual salaries. Using the GI Bill for an MBA program focused on marketing can mean a huge return on investment.
How Veterans Can Maximize Their MBA Investments and Minimize School Debt
No matter which program a veteran chooses, MBAs are a financial investment. It is the ratio of salary versus pay. While online MBA programs can help students avoid debt in general, former and current members of the military can further skew the ratio in their favor.
Veterans and active-duty service members can use the GI bill to pay for tuition and other costs such as housing, tests and textbooks. The two most popular types of GI bills are the post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD).
Through Post-9/11 GI BillVA can pay up to 100% In-state public business school tuition directly to the school on behalf of the student. Some veterans and active-duty service members may also qualify for a housing and school supply stipend. It can also help students cover private school tuition, although this amount is limited to a set amount for each school year.
with Montgomery GI Bill Active DutyQualified veterans receive a check for a specified amount. It is paid directly to them and is based on factors such as length of service, education level, and the type of education a student wants to receive. Veterans who do not qualify for 100% post-9/11 GI Bill benefits may be able to receive more benefits from MGIB-AD.
yellow ribbon program
Post-9/11 GI Bill funding is calculated using in-state tuition. This means veterans who qualify for 100% of benefits may still have to pay tuition if they attend private, out-of-state, or foreign schools – institutions that typically cost more than in-state schools. . Schools enrolled in the Yellow Ribbon Program can help them cover those nonessential costs.
Basically, the Yellow Ribbon Program is a financial partnership between a school and the VA. When a Yellow Ribbon school offers financial aid to an active-duty or veteran student, the VA will match it, doubling the amount of aid the student receives.
Military MBA Scholarship
Just because someone earned a bachelor’s degree, entered the military, and years later did an MBA, doesn’t mean they are excluded from scholarship opportunities. In fact, some business schools have scholarships specifically for veterans and active-duty service members.
Arizona State University, for example, offers nine Scholarships for military members and their families. Before choosing an MBA program, students with military experience may want to research these types of grants and merit-based scholarships (scholarships based on GPA, letters of recommendation, dissertation, etc.).
Find MBA Programs That Fit Your Post-Military Career Plans
Running a business, whether it’s an established company or your own exciting startup, often requires book smarts and real-world experience. MBA grads with military experience are in a position unique to both. They are ready to lead, ready to innovate, and ready to do things.
If bringing your military experience to the boardroom sounds like a career path you’d love to explore, start by researching some of the top online MBA programs available for veterans and active-duty service members. Weigh the pros and cons of different programs, research how to get an MBA degree, and become the skilled, forward-thinking leader any business will be happy to call its own.