An MBA Degree vs. a PMP Credential in 2021
To advance your career, the ultimate question is: MBA vs PMP. Is it better to pursue an MBA credential or to earn the PMP certification?
PayScale (2021) reported that those with an MBA earn an average annual salary of $89,854. Talent.com (2021) listed that experienced MBAs earn $74,288.
Similarly, the National Association of Colleges and Employers predicted that the average starting salary for the MBA Class of 2021 at $87,966.
Obviously, there are several factors that can impact the average salary. MBAs working in HR are on the low end and those in strategy are on the high end.
Gender, industry, location and the school also play a factor. In general, for comparison purposes, let’s peg the average annual salary between $74K and $90K.
Interestingly enough, the Project Management Institute’s (PMI)® Salary Survey (2020) listed the median annual salary for project managers in the US at $116K. Those with 3-5 years of experience make $90K.
One Key Distinction
From that perspective, an MBA degree and a Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential are roughly equal, EXCEPT for one key distinction.
Consider the huge discrepancy for the time and financial commitment (tuition, board and lost income) of earning an MBA which can run almost a quarter of a million dollars (yes, you read that correctly) vs. $1K+ and a couple of weeks to prepare and earn the PMP credential.
MBA = $40K tuition + $20K room, board and textbooks + $60K of lost income = $120K, multiply that by two years = $240K
PMP = $500 to $1,000 for a PMP exam prep course + $550 exam fee = $1K+
Which one has a better ROI?
Even for project managers without the PMP credential, the average income is $95K. With a PMP credential, it’s $116K.
The PMP credential requires three years of experience working on projects. Given that the average age for those starting an MBA is 28, they likely have at least three years of work experience.
So, what gives?
MBA vs. PMP
An MBA is a degree and a PMP is a professional certification. So, it’s really hard to compare them. Also, an MBA can open doors for specialized areas such as investment banking where one can earn up to $1M or more. It can also break the invisible executive ceiling.
On the other hand, project managers get to manage key initiatives and strategic projects. Deliver them on time and within budget, and one can expect guaranteed visibility across the organization. Plus, they get the opportunity to work on the “entire” business because projects require integration with scope, schedule, cost, quality, resource, communications, risk, procurement and stakeholders.
For those who are thinking about getting an MBA, have they considered these factors?
If someone already has an MBA, why not add a PMP credential to it? Why can’t they have both?
Not sure what’s involved in getting your PMP? Check out the article A Beginner’s Guide To PMP: Everything You Need To Know
Oh, and check out our Complete PMP® Exam Prep Course. It’s unique, entertaining and highly effective … and you can do it anytime, anywhere.
Exploring the PMP Credential
The PMP credential, on the other hand, is a professional certification offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It validates your project management skills and expertise. The PMP certification signifies that you have met rigorous standards and possess the necessary experience and knowledge to lead projects effectively.
To earn the PMP credential, you must fulfill specific prerequisites, such as acquiring project management experience and completing a certain number of project management education hours. The certification exam assesses your understanding of project management concepts, methodologies, and best practices. Achieving PMP certification demonstrates your commitment to the project management profession.
Comparing MBA and PMP: Key Considerations
When deciding between an MBA degree and a PMP credential, it’s crucial to evaluate your career goals, preferences, and circumstances. Here are some key considerations to help you make an informed choice:
- Focus: An MBA degree provides a broader business education, covering various functional areas, while the PMP certification focuses specifically on project management skills.
- Time and Cost: MBA programs typically require a significant investment of time and money, spanning one to two years of full-time study. On the other hand, preparing for the PMP exam requires dedicated self-study, attending training programs, and passing the exam.
- Career Trajectory: An MBA degree can open doors to a wide range of career opportunities, including management and leadership positions across industries. The PMP credential is highly valued in project management roles, particularly in sectors such as construction, engineering, and IT.
- Network: MBA programs offer extensive networking opportunities, allowing you to connect with industry professionals, alumni, and potential employers. While the PMP certification does not provide a built-in network, you can still leverage the PMI community and local project management associations.
- Industry Relevance: The relevance of an MBA degree or PMP credential may vary depending on the industry and geographic location. It’s essential to research the market demand and industry standards in your target field.
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In the end, the choice between pursuing an MBA degree or obtaining a PMP credential depends on your individual goals and aspirations. Consider factors such as your desired career path, industry preferences, time commitment, and financial resources. Both options can significantly enhance your professional prospects and contribute to your long-term success.
Remember to thoroughly research and weigh the pros and cons of each path before making a decision. Ultimately, the right choice for you will align with your career objectives and provide the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in your chosen field.
Have you led projects and are looking to earn a project management certification? You might be interested in learning about how lucrative this can be. Check out these articles.
No experience leading projects but still want to get into project management? No problem! Check out these articles.