Is an MBA in Energy Worth It? The Jobs (And Salaries) That Power This Degree.
November 17, 2021
Do you want to rise through the ranks of Big Oil? Or is saving the earth more your speed? In both cases, an MBA in energy may be your ticket to success. In this guide, we lay out everything you need to know about this niche degree.
The energy industry powers the world—literally. To do that, it needs not only techs and scientists but also business people and executives. (Visit Houston and you might get the impression that it only needs business people and executives.)
As an energy executive, you won't necessarily need to know how wind turbines work—the answer is magic, by the way—but you will have to manage people who do. While scientists and engineers convert natural resources to energy, you'll be converting their hard work into sweet, sweet cash.
In response to the evolving energy industry, many notable business schools have created energy-focused MBA programs. As you would expect, many of these programs are in locations where resources like oil, gas, and coal are abundant; others are at schools located in tech hubs. What most of these programs have in common is that they try to help students stay one step ahead of a rapidly changing global energy map.
Climate change, issues surrounding sustainability, and public sentiment have all contributed to a growing interest in green energy in the business sphere. As a result, more business schools are creating programs focused on these areas. Their offerings include master's programs in sustainability and related areas as well as MBAs with a sustainability focus. The one thing you can count on is that these programs will evolve as the energy industry launches new technologies, and as the feasibility of transitioning to renewable energy sources increases. Expect to see new energy MBA specializations and courses emerging in the next few years.
This guide to getting an energy MBA will help you decide whether this is the master's degree that will help you meet your career goals. It also reviews the factors you should consider in choosing the right business school for you.
In the right program, you'll gain not only knowledge and skills but also connections in the energy industry that will help you advance throughout your career.
In this article, we'll cover:
- Possible fields and career paths for a Master of Business Administration in energy
- Prerequisites for a Master of Business Administration in energy
- Commitment required for a Master of Business Administration in energy
- Is an MBA in Energy worth it?
Possible fields and career paths for a master of business administration in energy
An MBA in energy prepares you for a variety of professional roles. MBAs work in small renewable energy startups and traditional power companies. They also work as consultants, going wherever they're needed. Would you rather be the director of operations at a small solar power company or a financial analyst in a large oil company? Whatever your objective, an MBA in energy can help you achieve it. Here are six post-MBA jobs you might be right for.
The prices of oil, gas, and other forms of energy change rapidly. Pricing analysts work to ensure that prices are managed and updated. With your MBA, you might lead a team of analysts or work to create new pricing strategies. Energy pricing analysts earn $68,611 per year on average, plus bonuses and other compensation.
Risk control analyst
In this role, you'll construct and analyze transaction models, manage risks associated with a company's trading activities, analyze global and regional trading activities, and do what it takes to make sure profit and loss numbers add up. Energy risk analysts earn make about $60,283 per year, plus bonuses and other compensation.
These traders buy and sell electricity shares, natural gas supplies, or petroleum stocks, using tools that predict energy prices and forecast demand. Out of all the jobs you might choose after getting an MBA, this may be one of the most stressful, but it's also lucrative. Energy traders can expect to earn $101,704 on average, plus bonuses and profit-sharing incentives.
These MBAs work across all energy sectors supporting business initiatives related to energy equipment, services, and markets. They handle everything from cost modeling to market forecasting to new product development to transmission planning. In this role as an energy analyst, you'll make about $59,997 per year, plus bonuses, commissions, and profit-sharing incentives.
Director of operations
This role is a good fit for anyone who wants to work in energy but is mainly interested in the managerial aspects of the business. Directors of operation work closely with HR, oversee work sites, supervise financial analysis, take part in account planning, and manage revenue growth. You'll have a lot on your plate, and you'll be compensated accordingly. Directors of operations earn about $174,587 per year, plus incentives.
Supply chain innovation manager
In this multifaceted role, you'll oversee:
- Process automation
- Customer experience
- The supply chain, naturally
- Site logistics
- Analytics and reporting
As a manager, you'll also propose innovative ways to streamline all these processes. Supply chain innovation managers earn about $103,885 per year, plus incentives.
Prerequisites for a master of business administration in energy
The most essential prerequisite for an MBA in energy is probably a bachelor's degree. That's not the only thing admissions officers look for in energy MBA applicants, but there's almost no chance you'll be accepted to a program without one. Many programs, including most highly competitive programs, require a specific number of years of related work experience. Check the school's website for the specific requirements at your prospective schools.
Most MBA programs do not require a specific undergraduate major. That said, applicants with energy- and business-related majors certainly have a leg up on others in the admissions game. You can improve your chances of admission by majoring in subjects like:
- Energy and environmental policy
- Energy services
- Energy business and finance
- STEM subjects
When you apply to business schools, you'll usually need to show either GMAT or GRE test scores, a résumé, and your college transcripts. There are some test-optional MBA degree programs, though these aren't the norm, and some business schools will waive the GMAT requirement or other admission requirements for applicants with exceptional work experience. In addition to submitting these application materials, you may also need to submit a statement of purpose or a video essay. Some schools also bring in applicants for in-person interviews.
Pro tip: One way you can differentiate yourself from other applicants if you don't have significant work experience is by taking an internship with a company in the energy industry.
Commitment required for a master's of business administration in energy
More universities are creating energy-focused bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and MBA programs. They're also increasing the number of concentration specialties offered. Energy isn't yet one of the more popular concentrations, though it's definitely gaining momentum.
Some of these programs are concerned with the business of the energy industry as a whole, while others have different MBA tracks for students interested in renewable energy, oil, or cleantech. Many energy MBA programs include core and elective courses delivered through the university's science and engineering schools. These courses serve students who want to dive deeper into the science of energy in addition to learning about the business side.
An energy MBA is, however, still a masters-level business degree, and most programs will have a lot in common with more traditional MBAs. Full-time, on-campus programs typically take two years to complete and include core coursework in:
- Business analytics
- Organizational behavior
- Supply chain management
In fact, depending on which program you choose, you might end up doing a lot more core business coursework than energy-focused coursework.
If you really want to double down on your energy education, there are MBA programs that present nearly the entire curriculum in the context of the energy industry (University of Houston, unsurprisingly, is one of these), offering electives in topics like:
- Wind energy
- Environmental law
- Carbon markets
- Energy science
- Environmental management
- Energy management
- corporate sustainability
- Energy technology and policy
- Energy taxation
And if you want to get the most robust possible science education alongside your MBA, there are dual MBA/MS in energy degrees that provide opportunities to study both the business of energy and the science of energy.
Here are some notable energy MBA programs for different types of students.
- The _University of California - Berkeley_ Haas School of Business: MBA with a concentration in Energy & Clean Technology
- _Southern Methodist University_ Cox School of Business: MBA with a sub-specialization in Energy Finance
- _Rice University_ Jones Graduate School of Business: MBA with a concentration in Energy
- _Carnegie Mellon University_ Tepper School of Business: MBA with an Energy Business track
- _Tulane University_ Freeman School of Business: MBA with a concentration in Energy
- Texas A & M University - Kingsville: MBA with an Energy Finance concentration
- _University of Oklahoma - Norman Campus_ Price College of Business - Executive MBA in Energy
- _Texas Christian University_ Neeley School of Business - Energy MBA
- _Duke University_ Fuqua School of Business: MBA concentrations in Energy and Environment and Energy Finance
- _University of Oklahoma - Norman Campus_ Price College of Business: Executive MBA in Energy
You'll consider many factors in choosing an MBA in energy program. Job placement data should certainly be among them. Look for programs that will help you accomplish your career goals.
The best energy MBA programs will:
- Report high job placement rates in the energy industry (e.g., the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University has close recruiting relationships with local companies like ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips) and, more specifically, in the industry sector you desire (a school with great connections in fossil fuels may not be much help to you if your ambition is to work in alternative energy)
- Offer concentrations, specializations, or sub-specializations that align with your interests and career goals
- Have an energy research center or a similar facility (e.g., the Energy Institute at Haas at the University of California - Berkeley or the Center for Energy Finance Education and Research at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business)
- Include opportunities to learn or work on-site in a real-world setting (like the University of Wyoming MBA program's annual Energy Tour)
- Have a large and active alumni network that includes executives in the energy industry
So, is an MBA in energy worth it?
Here are two questions to ask yourself: Are you fascinated by energy? Are you interested in pursuing an MBA to boost your hireability? If you answered yes to both questions, you're in luck. The number of jobs in renewable energy is growing fast across the entire US, and there are more and more jobs opening up in the energy efficiency sector all the time. The traditional energy industry (driven by coal, oil, and gas production) is also still generating jobs.
It takes a lot of people to meet the global demand for energy—which is growing quickly—and both non-renewable and renewable energy companies need MBAs who can understand not only the science of business but also the science of power generation and delivery (along with the regulations imposed on it). With an energy MBA in hand, you could be among those who earn great money while also making it easier, cleaner, and less expensive for people to get the energy they need.
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