A hallmark of today’s competitive tech start-ups is the blurring of the lines between engineering responsibilities and business management experience. No matter their background, aspiring tech entrepreneurs need to develop an array of skills to succeed, ranging from understanding product-market fit, to product innovation and development, to practicing good communication.
Whether you’re an engineer interested in managing or leading an organization, or a business manager who wants to thrive within a tech field, you’ll need the right combination of experience and education that will allow you to be adaptable and flexible.
This post compares the different paths you can walk to attain that mastery: the Master of Technology Management (MTM), a tech-focused MBA and our own Master of Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (MITE) program.
What Is a Masters in Technology Management?
A Master of Science in Technology Management, also known as the Master’s of Technology Management or MTM, is an advanced degree focused on imparting leadership and management skills to scientists and engineers. The M.S. in Technology Management is a good fit for IT professionals who want to build their knowledge of management and governance of technology, financing and planning in IT in addition to general business acumen. It can also be suitable for those with a business background who want to build their knowledge of emerging technologies, data management and cybersecurity.
Different MTM programs will offer specializations in areas including data analytics, digital strategies, artificial intelligence, cyber security and project management. Some programs will require that applicants have an undergraduate degree in a relevant STEM field such as IT, computer engineering or computer science.
What Is an MBA?
The master of business administration (MBA) degree is an internationally recognized advanced degree designed to develop the professional skills required for careers in business and management. The MBA has consistently been the most popular graduate degree in the US since 2010. While attendance for residential MBA programs has dropped since the 2020 pandemic, the attendance for full-time online programs is continuing to rise.
Most MBA courses are intended to teach the essentials of business through courses that cover statistics, marketing, economics, communications, accounting, finance and management. Some programs will specialize in specific areas of business management or particular industries. For example, a tech MBA vs. an MBA program will tailor its courses to apply directly to information technology, technology-related business and IT management.
Generally there is no required work experience to be accepted into an MBA program, but acceptance into a program will require a bachelor’s degree within a related field. Top-rated MBA programs are also likely to require a high GPA as well as high test scores from the graduate management admission test (GMAT).
Master’s in Technology Management (MTM) Graduate Careers
Graduates of an MTM program are well-suited for management positions in the tech industry, or tech-related positions within corporations and large enterprises. The following are just a few of the more popular career paths, in addition to estimated salaries* and general job requirements.
- Chief Information Officer — Salary ranges between $245,546 and $360,354
The CIO is the executive In charge of the entirety of an organization’s information technology and computer systems. They are responsible for overseeing the technological interests of a company, which can include assessing current IT and technological processes, optimizing operations and coordinating with the rest of the executive team on the needs and development of IT.
- Database Administrator — Salary ranges between $85,497 and $110,782
Database admins are the ones who are responsible for installing, maintaining and updating an organization’s database servers. They will ensure that all data is secure and also easily accessible to anyone authorized to access the database. Part of their responsibilities include optimizing database performance and installing and upgrading database applications.
- Computer Systems Analyst — Salary ranges between $57,291 and $71,715
A computer systems analyst will oversee the operation of an organization’s computer system, including procedures and security. They will research optimizations and improvements and design, implement and manage security countermeasures when vulnerabilities are discovered. They also work with company personnel, offering technical guidance, advising on tech roadmaps and product plans and enforcing good data governance.
- Computer Network Architect — Salary ranges between $126,406 and $157,900
The computer network architect is primarily responsible for building and maintaining a company’s data communication networks. They ensure that all technical systems are operational, optimized, and properly scalable, from local networks to company-wide global systems. They work with other tech professionals to ensure that hardware and software are current and updated.
- VP of Engineering — Salary ranges between $240,783 and $313,023
A vice president of engineering is responsible for providing engineering insights and oversight to other departments, especially in regards to developing or improving products. They establish the strategic direction of the company’s engineering initiatives and collaborate with other leaders and executives to meet organizational goals. They also are expected to maintain a knowledge of emerging trends and technologies to recommend and implement new systems to improve organizational efficiency.
Tech Focused MBA Graduate Careers
Graduates of an MBA program that specialize in technology are also good fits for jobs in the tech industry. Though they are less likely to work technical jobs as architects or administrators, they are better fits for areas that involve finance, accounting, marketing and product development. The following are just a few of the more popular career paths, in addition to estimated salaries* and general job requirements.
- Chief Executive Officer — Salary ranges between $605,167 and $1,031,554
The CEO is responsible for overseeing everything within a company, including but not limited to operations, marketing, strategy, financing, creation of company culture, human resources, sales and public relations. They manage all other C-suite positions and ensure that all departments are optimized, on track and working toward the company’s vision and goals.
- Computer and Information Systems Manager — Salary ranges between $113,160 and $145,650
The computer and information systems manager is responsible for overseeing all of the computer-related activity within an organization, including managing database administrators and systems analysts. They set the technical and business goals for the organization, notably the planning, installation and maintenance of all computer hardware and software. They also set the standard for the security of an organization’s network and electronic documents.
- Information Technology Director — Salary ranges between $167,844 and $207,778
The IT director is in charge of IT departments, and so is responsible for the management of IT personnel as well as the execution of IT policies and goals. They oversee and coordinate the development of technical projects, the establishment of networks and review and approve financial requirements and budgeting. Depending on the structure of an organization they may report to a CIO or directly to the CEO.
- Product Marketing Manager — Salary ranges between $121,443 and $155,823
The product marketing manager analyzes a company’s brand performance and competitiveness within the market. They manage all marketing activities and coordinate with sales and product development with the goal of capturing more market share and increasing sales. They also research and analyze product trends to develop strategies for promoting existing and upcoming products.
- Project Manager — Salary ranges between $62,436 and $79,400
A project manager’s primary responsibility is to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget. They are expected to manage a project’s timelines, monitor its progress, set deadlines and milestones, solve issues and evaluate the overall project performance. They will oversee the communication between team members, clients, external vendors and other stakeholders to ensure that project deliverables, requirements, costs and other updates are all understood.
*Salaries sourced from Salary.com as of September 2022 and are subject to change based on date, location and level of experience.
Comparing the Master’s in Technology Management vs. MBA
The difference between an MBA and MTM is largely a matter of emphasis. An MBA program with a concentration in technology will supplement students’ business management skills with an advanced understanding of computer systems, programming and technology. It’s a degree program that may be more fitting for graduates of communication, finance and marketing programs who want to break into tech-related fields. It can also be useful for those who have already cultivated a strong set of technical skills, such as programming, engineering or information architecture, but need more management training to advance their careers.
MTM degree programs, on the other hand, are primarily engineering programs that are designed to teach additional skills in team leadership, communication, management and entrepreneurship. It is very much a scientific, technical program, though with an eye toward leadership responsibilities.
|MTM||MBA in Tech|
|Degree Goals||Supplement technical skills with business knowledge||Prepare for higher level leadership and management positions in business|
|General Curriculum||– Digital Strategy and Leadership|
– Operations Management
– Accounting and Finance for Technology
– Project Management
– Supply Chain Management
|– Marketing Management|
|Popular careers||– CIO|
– Database Administrator
– CS Analyst
– Computer Network Architect
– Systems Manager
– IT Director
– Product Marketing Manager
|Salary ranges||$57,000 to $360,000+||$113,000 to $1,000,000+|
|Preferred prior degrees||Bachelor’s of Science in a STEM field||Bachelor’s of Arts in marketing, communication, finance or Bachelor’s of Science in a STEM field|
MBA or Master’s in Technology Management: Which Is Best for Me?
Both programs have their purpose, though there will be differences and nuances between programs. In general you can summarize each degree as follows:
- The MBA offers a broader range of career options in management
- The MTM is more focused on mastering emerging technologies in a leadership position
Ultimately, their relevance to you is dependent on your background experience, current level of education, professional interests and career aspirations. There are also other programs available, designed for those who are more interested in start-up or entrepreneurial opportunities in the tech field.
The University of San Diego’s Master of Science in Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship degree is a one-of-a-kind cross-functional leadership program developed especially for professionals interested in joining tech startups or starting a career in a technology-related field. While the MITE program has classes in technology management, it is more focused on exploring principles of entrepreneurship within the tech field. And in comparison to an MBA, the MITE program is less about small business management and more focused on areas related to tech startups — such as identifying innovation opportunities and securing venture capital.
Before making a decision, continue to research which programs and potential career paths you’d like to learn more about. If you’d like to hear more about the MTE program, contact us directly.