MBA, MSEOM, or other?
February 11, 2014 5:33 PM   Subscribe

I'm considering further education, and I'm looking at either an MBA or MS in Operations and Engineering Management. I've already got the MSME and significant aerospace product engineering experience, and MSOEM would help give me a leg up to Engineering Manager or Chief Engineer. But an MBA would be a more business-focused curriculum, which could help me leverage my experience and knowledge into perhaps a wider field. So, which one gets your vote, and why? How much of a factor is the choice of school? What other questions do I need to ask? (Assume that tuition is not a factor.)

More specific background, if it helps: B.S. Materials Engineering, MSME (thermo/fluids), 17 years in various engineering functions in subtier aerospace suppliers. I honestly believe that if I were promoted to my boss's job (or even his boss's job) that I would be a fantastic lead/manager/chief. I know the product, I know how it's made, I know the common sources of nonconformances, I know the organization, I know how people work, I know how to motivate people while still treating them like human beings, and I know that doing so yields much more productivity than treating them like thieves and scumbags. But I don't have an MBA or other management credential, so I obviously am not as attractive a candidate as, say, someone without many of those things, but an MBA.

Ahem. Anyway, I'm looking down the road a ways, and I'd like to be able to branch out from engineering. So as asked above, which one, and why? (And no, I'm not looking at it as merely a signaling device, but as an honest development of my skills. And there's the rub; either way will take me away from the straight engineering that I've been doing for a long time. How can I pick which way to go?)
posted by disconnect to Work & Money (3 answers total)
MBAs are a dime a dozen unless you can get into a top school.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:27 PM on February 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am an engineer who decided to get a MBA in mid-career. I did so because I found that my significant business experience, acquired on the job while working at a Fortune 100 company, was not recognized by my new employer. I had been an Engineering Manager prior to getting my MBA -- since getting my MBA, I have been able to be Director of Marketing, Director of Strategy (evaluating potential acquisitions), and Vice President of Engineering.

When I hear "operations and engineering management", I think production or maybe engineering management, but not general manager, marketing manager, business development, etc... I think a MBA is a more general-purpose degree.

What I might suggest you do is use LinkedIn or some other networking site to look at the educational backgrounds of people who have jobs you might want. You also might look at job postings. You also might do informational interviews, either again, with people who have the type of job you might want in the future, or their managers (who would be your hiring manager). That might help give you insight into what to do.

I would also highly recommend seeing if you can get your current employer to pay all or part of the tuition for this degree.
posted by elmay at 4:40 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

MBA is just a box to check. If the job you want is looking for an MBA, then having one won't hurt you. I have an MBA and it was just a thing we did in the nineties. Mine is from a middling school and frankly, what I learned was interesting enough but it was a smattering of this and that. Rigorous is not a word I would use to describe it.

If you're going back to school and you want it to be interesting, somewhat fun and pretty easy, then go for an MBA. Unless you get into Wharton or Harvard or Stanford, it's just a piece of paper.

I am not knowledgeable about the other degree, so take it for what it's worth.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:54 AM on February 12, 2014

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