Today’s labor market is strong, but competition for the best jobs remains tight. With basic skills and education, jobs are out there. You probably have one. But perhaps now you’re looking for more than a job, and you’ve decided it’s time to focus on advancing your career and upgrading your skills with an MBA from New England College.

In today’s highly specialized and rapidly changing labor market finding the right MBA concentration is the first vital step toward a rewarding, lucrative career.

Two questions likely come to mind:

  1. What specific focus is right for my future career plans?
  2. How do I find the time to acquire the knowledge and skills for long term career growth while working my current job?

Fortunately,  both questions are answered with some research and planning.

Valuing a Master’s Degree

The first impulse in deciding to work toward a master’s degree in any field may be the desire to earn a higher salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for a bachelor’s degree is $56,000. Earning a master’s increases the median to $68,000. Thus, the “wage premium” for earning a master’s is, on average, $12,000 per year above that of a bachelor’s degree. A tidy sum.

This tendency is certainly true for MBAs. More master’s degrees are awarded in business than in any other field. Wage premiums are much higher than average, ranging from $36,000 to as high as $89,000 annually.

Of course, circumstances vary for individual cases and money isn’t everything. Simply shooting for that high wage premium may be counterproductive if the work is dissatisfying or stifles your natural talents. Given the baseline high wage premium for an MBA in general, it is wise to consider the sector, industry, and career path to which you’ll apply your effort and skills.

This is the more difficult part of the equation: what do you want to do?

MBA Concentrations

From digital marketing to sports management, determining the right MBA concentration is the launching point for a successful career. Here’s a brief overview of some of the more popular MBA specializations at New England College:

Health Informatics

An MBA concentration in health informatics is a great choice for those with IT experience working in the healthcare field. The specialization is relatively new but growing rapidly as electronic medical records management helps change the nature of healthcare in the United States. BLS data is still incomplete due to the recent emergence of the field, but preliminary data suggests a job growth rate of 22 percent over the coming years. Salaries for managers often start at around $100,000. And don’t forget the wage premium for a specialized MBA!

Healthcare Management

Healthcare is arguably one of the most important professional fields. From doctors and nurses to technicians and managers, the complex system for delivering healthcare requires professionals trained in a variety of disciplines to manage it all. Without highly skilled managers, the system wouldn’t run. With an MBA focused on healthcare management, you can expect an average annual starting salary of at least $99,730, according to the BLS. Keep in mind this is based on a bachelor’s education level. With an MBA, starting salaries will likely be higher. BLS projects job growth of 28 percent through 2028, much higher than average.

Nonprofit Leadership

Working with nonprofits presents its own challenges, such as fundraising and community outreach. But with those challenges, come the rewards of advancing social, policy, and humanitarian issues. This MBA concentration prepares you for leadership in the nonprofit sector.

Human Resource Management

HR is the backbone of most organizations. Without an efficiently organized workforce addressing the needs of workers and management, an organization will struggle. Top leadership roles in HR go to the most skilled and knowledgeable managers.

These are just a few examples of the many MBA concentrations available. New England College’s affordable online programs specifically designed for working professionals are often the key to advancing careers in business management and leadership.