When looking to advance your education through online courses, the most obvious degree that comes to mind is a Master of Business Administration (MBA). For those looking to increase their salaries or responsibilities, selecting that particular degree is an easy choice.

An MBA does more than just give you background in the business world though. Online MBA coursework can provide the opportunity to learn leadership skills, practice teamwork with others and build vital analytical skills. After all, according to a 2013 survey by the American Management Association, 58 percent of company leaders said analytics were important to their organizations then, and 82 percent said they would be important within five years.

Building analytical skills is essential in today’s job market

Analytical skills are, in short, used to determine what information is relevant so it can be put to use for a business. It starts with knowing the right question to answer and determining the right information needed to answer that question. Good analytical skills help you figure out not only the answer to the question, but they can also help you recognize patterns important to your business and help you express those ideas and solutions to others.

An online MBA course curriculum will include classes such as statistical and decision analysis to help in decision-making, as well as courses in administrative strategy and marketing and operations management. Organizational theory and policy will also be covered, to teach you not only how to use your analytical skills, but also to know how to utilize others’ analytical skills as well.

Businesses look for people with strong analytical skills

As one of the nation’s top management and consulting firms, Bain and Company interviews thousands of candidates every year but only about 10 percent make the cut, Russ Hagey told the Wall Street Journal in 2012. Hagey, the company’s chief talent officer, said that the interview process involves candidates demonstrating sound logic skills, possessing the ability to work well in group situations, and being able to clearly articulate thoughts and ideas.

The firm looks for people with strong analytical skills, he said, noting that this is an area where many candidates fail to impress. We’re not expecting folks to do analytics where you’d need a calculator, but we certainly expect you to do things with pen and paper, Hagey said. Also, you need to be able to get to a point of view and stand by that with a reason.

Those who pursue an online MBA may be looking for a larger paycheck, but they also receive something else: tools to manage and make decisions in the era of Big Data. With that in mind, an MBA will not only provide a solid foundation for business decisions, but for any industry that one chooses to move into.

Learn more about the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi online MBA program.