Working toward a graduate degree like the Master of Business Administration (MBA) can provide personal and professional benefits. No matter how you slice it, graduate school is not a piece of cake. It takes time and money to earn the coveted MBA.

Fortunately, graduates will most likely see a strong return on investment by obtaining the jobs they want and increasing their knowledge and skills.

Here are five benefits of having an MBA:

  1. Advance or Change Careers

People with graduate degrees often command higher salaries. Companies tend to pay more for people who have an MBA. Those who earn an MBA can qualify for a variety of management jobs and promotion opportunities.

It is also possible to pursue a specialty such as an MBA in management or an MBA in marketing. Each specialty comes with additional job options. For example, someone with an MBA in management may find a job as a marketing, financial, or human resources manager. An MBA in marketing can help advance specialized careers in digital marketing, search engine marketing, data analytics, and various marketing management roles.

  1. Gain Transferable Skills

The knowledge and skills gained in an MBA program are versatile. Expertise gained in accounting, leadership, strategy, critical thinking, decision-making, communication, international business, finance, and marketing is transferable to a variety of roles. According to GMAC’s 2021 Corporate Recruiters Survey, transferable skills like these — especially strategic skills and “soft skills” such as communication, leadership, and decision-making — are what employers look for most in business school grads.

These skills can help someone switch careers, move up the ladder, or make a lateral move into another business area. A person who does not work in business may want to make a career change, and these skills can be applied to numerous industries and jobs.

  1. Increase Salary

Several factors affect salary, including the type of degree, geography, years of relevant experience, and job responsibilities. MBA graduates enter a wide variety of jobs paying a range of salaries. While the pay boost varies, an MBA usually has a positive impact on salary.

In an article for Forbes, John Byrne (editor-in-chief of Poets and Quants) breaks down an in-depth analysis of estimated career earnings conducted by PayScale. The analysis shows that the wage premium for earning a quality MBA can total well into the seven-figure territory over a typical 35-year career. As Byrnes says, earning an MBA “is one of the surest paths to a lucrative career.”

In terms of annual salaries, GMAC reports that “At $115,000, the median salary of MBA graduates is 77 percent more than those with a bachelor’s degree ($65,000) and 53 percent higher as compared to those hired directly from industry ($75,000).”

  1. Stand Out as an Applicant

In “Find MBA Programs That Lead to Jobs, High Salary,” Ilana Kowarski writes that executives credit business school for their success. She also says that corporate clients have told recruiters to look for candidates with an MBA. GMAC’s survey also reflects the value of an MBA, finding that 91% of recruiters reported they planned to hire MBAs in the following year.

Given this, having an MBA on your resume could give you the upper hand over other candidates. Hiring managers expect applicants with MBA acumen to solve challenging problems, handle a wide range of workplace issues, and navigate the complexities of modern international business environments.

  1. Grow Your Network

You build relationships with the people you meet in graduate school, whether you enroll in an online or an on-campus program. This expands your network. In addition, your professors may be willing to introduce you to industry experts and corporate leaders they know.

Your fellow students may hold jobs in companies that interest you. Anyone can become a future coworker or client, which could lead to mutually beneficial relationships. You may be able to further expand your network after graduation by joining the alumni organization.

Whether you are a business professional or someone in a non-business career field, an MBA can open new doors.

Learn more about Barry University’s online MBA program.