BLUF: Should I pursue further education or certification to further my career?

I recently completed my BSB/M degree and am looking at further expanding my learning. Many of the positions I have been looking at ask for either a MBA or some form of APICS certification if not both as a "nice to have".

Should I pursue either of these or look at more generic postings where I can go into a company and then grow organically with that company?

My background:

I have been with the same company in Aerospace for more than 11 years now. I started out in the warehouse and have moved up as far as I can without moving out of state (something I cannot do for the next 5 years). During this time I earned my degree and currently work in a materials management position within traffic and logistic. I have a Six Sigma greenbelt and have worked as a PM on several projects. I am looking to get into management or a role where that is a possibility for me in the near future.

SteveProthero's picture

First up I declare my hand - I am an MBA (Australian Graduate School of Management) so I do have a bias.  I would say yes go for it and this is based on two core ideas:


1. Learning is a benefit - you can see situations and understand some of the drivers and are in a better position to consider and act.

2. It allows you to stand back and understand the whole business and its place with in the economy as well as macro understanding of the key elements of the business - so you can ask really tough and relevant questions (and have a selection of options to put forward based on more than just your current subject knowledge.

What I think is really powerful is to be across the MT approach (to me the "MBA" of people managment) and the MBA itself as a context and library of knowledge and understanding.

In my role I was able to turn a $7m loss into a $20m profit in a year - largly drawing on the MBA but using MT in the impliemntation and bringing the team of nearly 900 staff with me.

So my vote is "go for it".








Steve Prothero


GlennR's picture

My first boss used to say, "You pay for your training whether you do it or not." I pride myself on being a continuous learner. Once you develop a strategy of being a continuous learner, it's easier to seek out opportunities. Mark has promoted reading professional publications, media such as the Wall Street Journal, and of course, there's the recommended books in another part of the forum.

  • In addition to an MBA, weigh also other certifications within your profession from professional organizations. For example, I received a certification in Human Resources back when I was pursuing an interest in that field.
  • Join Toastmasters-- it will improve your ability to persuade others; it's a networking opportunity, and it's many times flat out fun. I think there's a podcast on this I'm about to listen to.
  • Take the Dale Carnegie course in human relationships. I forget the correct name, I took it in 1987 and it has made me so much more effective both personally and professionally. (Didn't improve my memory skills though, did it?:-)
  • Consider joining your organization's coaching or mentor programs. (Note: coaching in this program is different that what MT refers to in the sense that you're not coaching a direct.)
  • Attend an MT conference (It's on my list, guys, I promise.)
  • Seek out other opportunities

Obviously, you can't do all of these at once. As I said, weigh them against each other. Maybe the MBA is the right step for you or not depending on a variety of reasons.

Good luck!


dmb41carter36's picture

I would say do both if you can. Many organizations will pay for your education/cetifications with the stipulation that you have to stay with the company for x years after they have made the last payment.

That being said, I would reccomend going for the MBA first. This is because the MBA is a very general, and practical degree that is valid accross nearly all general business applications. I don't know what the recent numbers are but the fact is that people often change industries and even careers. Having a broad-brush MBA helps keep some doors open for you down the road.

Next, you have some options depending on what you want to do.

1. Stay in Supply Chain/Logistics and go for APICS

2. Go for a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

3. PMP Certification for Project Management


All things considered equal, I would lean toward no.2. Black Belts are in high demand and do command a significant salary as long as you have a track record of success. I am a fellow LSS Green Belt, and have an MBA with concentration in Project Management. Next up for me are no. 2 and no. 3.

Good luck!