Which Way to Go: Professional Qualification or MBA?


MBA and Education  “Education” or an academic qualification is more what an MBA is all about.  It helps to teach us how to think about a broad set of situations.  It provides us with exposure to many different ways of thinking, many situations, and crosses virtually all business functions.  It also builds skill in areas such as strategy, human resource, finance, marketing, operations, and more. MBA grooms you to become a general manager.

An academic qualification involves the study of a subject with an academic discipline and research focus. The overriding purpose of this qualification is a contribution to the learner’s specialised knowledge of a subject and not necessarily the application thereof.  An academic qualification does not certify competence and is not based on a systematic or formal practice analysis; all it certifies is that the learner has successfully learnt the theory behind the practice.


Professional Certifications and Qualifications   The most striking difference between an MBA and Professional Qualifications is perhaps that a professional qualification, due to the nature of the training and the fact that it is built on practice analysis, offers a warrant of competence and
expertise. It therefore certifies that, having completed the certification course or training, the graduate has the essential knowledge and skills to perform the duties required.of his/her profession.

The goal of a professional qualification is to impart knowledge, understanding and practical experience to the learners to enable the learners to apply the knowledge in a practical manner, in a professional practice.

Professional qualifications are usually regulated by a professional body in the form of a professional designation, e.g. CFP, FRM, PMP and etc, such titles must be renewed through annual re-registration with the regulatory body and include continuous professional development (CPD) activities to prove the currency of the skills.

Professional Certifications became very popular especially in the IT field, marketing and finance industry. The employers needed a highly qualified and consistent-thinking implementation community in order to support their complex products, be it Marketing service, IT products or financial products.  Becoming certified was not and still is not easy, and requires hard work and experience.

Certifications like the Certified Financial Planner (CFP), GARP FRM – Financial Risk Manager Certification, Digital Marketing Certification, Project Management Professional (PMP), which are both internationally and locally recognised, have become popular among working professionals. They provide a framework for dealing with a certain common problem set, they are challenging to earn, and they are clearly a skill; and this is where they diverge from the education provided by an MBA.  They provide a clear “skill” for the workplace.  Education does not necessarily do that, although it provides great background that can help someone perform better.

Employers certainly love certification. The certification provides employers with an indication of a minimum level of knowledge and achievement, and professionals with a distinguishing and proven minimum skill set.


What an MBA or Certification Can Provide  Certifications are a way to gain formalized learning in less familiar areas, or in areas where learner want to focus and develop some specialized knowledge and skill. Thus they have applied directly to immediate and medium term career goals.They helped working professionals with more immediate career goals, in very practical ways, and also opens doors.


It’s a Personal Decision In conclusion, in a choice between Professional  Qualifications and MBA,  that depends on the person.  MBA will serve anyone in the long run.  However, in the end, experience is the best teacher.  A degree will make it easier to earn certifications at the appropriate time, but it is not necessarily required.  The MBA will shape thinking in a broader and more valuable way for the long run.  Earning the certification can help in the short term to establish or anchor a career.

That being said, just as a university education is not necessarily for everyone, and MBA is not necessarily for everyone. Therefore, when all of the logic is put aside, this becomes a very personal decision. Different people have different learning styles. It may be that one person would be better off getting a professional qualification like the Digital Marketing, CFP, FRM or PMP, work in the industry for a while, and gain exposure and experience, then advance their career from there. Some people learn much better by doing and could be wasting their time in school. Similarly some people do not need the certification or the degree! But most of us will benefit best by one or the other, or both.


Find Out More: Professional Certification Courses that We Offer

If you’re looking to pursue a career that your undergraduate degree hasn’t prepared you for, do consider our offerings here:  globally recognised and transferable Professional Certification courses which are offered in both Blended Learning Mode (Face-to-Face workshop + Online Support) and Online Learning Mode (except FRM):

  1. Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
  2. Certified Financial Risk Manager (FRM)
  3. Certified Digital Marketing Professional (Digital Marketing Certification Course)
  4. Certified Digital Sales Professional (Digital & Social Selling Certification Course)
  5. Certified Digital Marketing Specialist – Social (Social Media Marketing Certification Course)
  6. Certified Digital Marketing Specialist – Search (Search Marketing Certification Course)
  7. Certified Digital Marketing Specialist – Strategy & Planning (Digital Strategy & Planning Certification Course)



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