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I am a fresh graduate with Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering. I am currently working as Jr. Mechanical Engineer in an MEP project. I always wanted to do courses in management, but I am confused whether I should go for MBA or PMP.

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    Personal career advice is off-topic on PMSE. In addition, comparing a degree to a certification is an apples-to-oranges comparison, and cannot be answered in a canonical way. – Todd A. Jacobs Oct 31 '15 at 15:26
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These two are not the same things and you should not be doing an either / or comparison. In fact, you should not compare the two in terms of which would provide a greater return.

The questions you should be asking yourself is should I get a graduate degree and, if so, in what and when? Then create your plan and go execute. The next question is am I seeing the PMP being requested in various job roles I would like to have and, if so, when will have enough PM experience to go sit for that test?

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I'm not discouraging you from doing either one, but staying put for a few years while you learn what real-life engineering work is like would not be a bad idea. You won't have enough experience for the PMP for at least two years anyway (assuming you are given management tasks from the start), and getting an MBA is a significant time and financial commitment that you should make when you have a fairly clear idea of where you want to take your career in the future. I know I sure didn't when I was a recent grad (computer science). You'll probably figure that out after a few years on the job.

That said, if you really want to get started on one of them now, I suggest the PMP. It will provide you with broad knowledge and (as long as you apply the knowledge, and actively seek out or volunteer for management opportunities) skills without locking you into a particular career path. Investing the required time and money in a graduate degree makes it more difficult to say, "I don't really enjoy this; I'll try being something else" after you obtain it.

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TL;DR;

  • Pursue an MBA if you want to become an executive. This involves responsibility for business decisions, finance and the leadership & management of people.
  • Pursue a PMP if you want to become a project manager. This involves responsibility for data gathering, analysis of risks, time-lines and resources and communication of the above.

Longer Version:

As the others have said, this is a bit of an unfair comparison. The goal of each of these educational paths are separate and distinct - and it might be more helpful to take a look at your overall career goals as you evaluate whether either of these (or other) types of education will be supportive of your path.


What is an MBA?

An MBA is a business-focused master's degree, which is designed to teach you how to manage people, processes and products. In general, a good program will teach you about the drivers behind business decisions, how to evaluate them, how to interact effectively with teams and manage people, and a variety of other topics.

What it is designed to do is make you a functional executive, capable of critical thinking and equipped with a tool-belt of thought processes and techniques to use in making decisions and actioning them.


What is a PMP Certification?

A PMP is a Certificate which is highly focused on a specific technical task: project management. The focus of study is about analyzing, manipulating and tabulating data in order to effectively evaluate the status of a project and affect its outcome.

Unlike an MBA, which provides generalist knowledge, the PMP focuses on the specialist knowledge needed for this specific role. It is designed to give you the tools and resources to be an effective project manager.


Theoretically, how do these roles interact?

The answer to what education you should pursue should really be based in what your career goals are - so here are some thoughts to keep in mind, which I've found useful in my career planning:

  1. An executive is a generalist who's job is to make decisions and generate value. Because you are responsible for the results, your career advancement is generally tied to how well you are able to make wise, well-informed decisions - and choose between opportunities.
  2. A project manager is a specialist who's job is to evaluate & report on risk. Because you are responsible for analysis & communication, your career advancement is generally tied to your ability to predict issues, suggest mitigations and keep everyone informed. In short - you are often a primary contributor to how informed your executive's decisions are - though it is the executive who is responsible for decision-making and overall results.

Caveat: In many companies, these two roles wind up somewhat conflated, with executives performing analysis or PM's being held responsible for outcomes. Keep this in mind when deciding whether you might want to pursue one or both courses of education.

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