Author Topic: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?  (Read 17433 times)

SAP5243

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MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« on: November 15, 2013, 08:47:42 PM »
My company has a tuition reimbursement program that pays for a good chunk of schooling if I ever chose to go back.  I have always wanted to get an MBA because it seems to be the best degree to open up high-paying positions that might not be obtained otherwise.  However, after speaking to quite a few people, I am having second thoughts on if an MBA is even worth it.  My career goal is to get a "Product/Proj. Manager" or a "Marketing Manager" position at a high-tech company (Microsoft, Google, Amazon, etc.), and people have said that the MBA is not nearly as valuable anymore.

Here are the 3 things I am most interested in doing:
-Masters in Information Systems/Management, 1.5-2 years (Seattle Pacific University, pay about $10-15k out of pocket)
-MBA from Univ. of Washington, 2 years (top 25 ranked MBA, pay about $15-20k out of pocket)
-PMP Certification from UW (Project Management Professional, wouldn't pay anything)

I'm already $50k in debt from undergraduate school and trying to decide what option would be best for me to further my career.  Keep in mind that I still plan to work FT while pursuing any one of these so an MBA would obviously be the most time consuming. 

If there are any MMM'rs who got any of these degrees/certs, please share some insight and your thoughts, thank you!


the fixer

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2013, 08:52:35 PM »
I've worked at companies where PMPs are highly sought after. People have put little "PMP" icons next to their names on business cards. No one calls herself "Jane Smith, MS"

I don't have any of them personally, though.

SAP5243

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2013, 09:01:21 PM »
I've worked at companies where PMPs are highly sought after. People have put little "PMP" icons next to their names on business cards. No one calls herself "Jane Smith, MS"

Good to hear!  That is the cheapest and least time-consuming route, but I worry a little about the doors it opens up.  I know little about it, but my supervisor recommended me looking into it.  The MS and MBA are more reputable routes, but definitely a lot more stressful, time-consuming, and expensive. 

Would you mind sharing some companies you worked at that were attracted to the PMP?

Emg03063

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2013, 09:03:15 PM »
Unless you're interested in going into general management, I think the MBA is overkill, and you're best bet is the PMP certification.  In fairness, this opinion comes from a b-school dropout, for what that's worth.

the fixer

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2013, 09:08:02 PM »
Government contractors in DC like them, as well as anyone coming from that background. That may not help you that much out here on the west coast, come to think of it... I'm too new here to know what's in demand in this area.

I worked closely with someone working toward her PMP back in Maryland. She was already pretty gifted at many of the skills involved in project management (from my perspective, keeping obsessive track of the little details) but as she went through more training I saw how her approach got much more formalized. For instance, all her meetings would have a clear agenda, which she would email in advance but also print out and hand to everyone in attendance. She would keep track of action items and who was committing to what. That sort of thing. It all may seem pretty simple but it's something I'd be TERRIBLE at, and I think it's hard to find people who aren't.

IMO having a PMP guarantees that you aren't a PHB :) you can steal that line for an interview if you want!

SAP5243

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2013, 09:10:47 PM »
Unless you're interested in going into general management, I think the MBA is overkill, and you're best bet is the PMP certification.  In fairness, this opinion comes from a b-school dropout, for what that's worth.

Why did you drop out, did you not enjoy the coursework or was it just not worth it for the money?  Also, were you going to a top 10? 

Hmm, this PMP option is starting to look more and more attractive.  I have also seen certifications in "Software Product Mgmt" and "Information Systems" at UW.  Anyone know anything about these certs, or others that might help me reach my goal?

SAP5243

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2013, 09:15:45 PM »
Government contractors in DC like them, as well as anyone coming from that background. That may not help you that much out here on the west coast, come to think of it... I'm too new here to know what's in demand in this area.

I worked closely with someone working toward her PMP back in Maryland. She was already pretty gifted at many of the skills involved in project management (from my perspective, keeping obsessive track of the little details) but as she went through more training I saw how her approach got much more formalized. For instance, all her meetings would have a clear agenda, which she would email in advance but also print out and hand to everyone in attendance. She would keep track of action items and who was committing to what. That sort of thing. It all may seem pretty simple but it's something I'd be TERRIBLE at, and I think it's hard to find people who aren't.

IMO having a PMP guarantees that you aren't a PHB :) you can steal that line for an interview if you want!

Haha!  I might steal that actually :).  My passion has always been consumer technology, but I can see myself working in government or IT companies as well (maybe more down the line), like Booz Allen Hamilton.  I just want to make sure I pursue the right thing to ensure continued growth in my career. 

This PMP sounds a lot better now thanks to you guys!

steveo

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2013, 09:43:13 PM »
I work as a project manager within the data-warehousing field. I really like my job but I have absolutely no qualifications. I don't think that qualifications really help that much when it comes to doing your job. It might help to get a job but that is far from a sure thing.

A girl at my work who was young got a job a microsoft as a programme manager and she wasn't very good and I don't think had any qualifications. She did though state that she had a big job at my company when she really used poetical licence.

I'm not sure what to tell you because the qualification may help however it might not.

SAP5243

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2013, 09:50:57 PM »
I work as a project manager within the data-warehousing field. I really like my job but I have absolutely no qualifications. I don't think that qualifications really help that much when it comes to doing your job. It might help to get a job but that is far from a sure thing.

A girl at my work who was young got a job a microsoft as a programme manager and she wasn't very good and I don't think had any qualifications. She did though state that she had a big job at my company when she really used poetical licence.

I'm not sure what to tell you because the qualification may help however it might not.

That's awesome!!  What is her and your background like?  Meaning, what did you study in UG school and any previous exp that helped you guys to get your PM positions?  Currently I work in operations at a tech company, but I would like to take the right steps to help me advance the fastest. 

ritchie70

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2013, 10:26:11 PM »
-Masters in Information Systems/Management, 1.5-2 years (Seattle Pacific University, pay about $10-15k out of pocket)
-MBA from Univ. of Washington, 2 years (top 25 ranked MBA, pay about $15-20k out of pocket)
-PMP Certification from UW (Project Management Professional, wouldn't pay anything)

PMP is very popular in the corporate IT world, and it's a good starting point. You can ultimately add the whole alphabet after your name if you want to, so you might as well do the free thing first. People who have been PMP for a while may look down on a newly minted one, because the test was dumbed down maybe five years ago.

Personally I don't think an MBA from anywhere except maybe the very very top tier schools is worth anything, and even then its only true worth is having networked with other people who got an MBA from a top tier school. Absolutely do not do night school MBA at some local "meh, I guess they're OK" university. Also, the market is FLOODED with MBAs, all of whom thought having those three letters would gain them an extra $25,000 a year. Guess what? It doesn't. Not any more if it ever did. You'd do better to just spend your $10K on tailored suits and look sharp.

This being MMM, the question I haven't seen addressed is this: What impact would that debt have on financial independence, and what impact would that degree have? Unless the degree has a short-term payoff, don't do it.

CDP45

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2013, 01:29:37 AM »
Go back to UW and get a real degree.

steveo

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2013, 03:21:30 AM »
That's awesome!!  What is her and your background like?  Meaning, what did you study in UG school and any previous exp that helped you guys to get your PM positions?  Currently I work in operations at a tech company, but I would like to take the right steps to help me advance the fastest.

I'm not sure what the girl had but I don't think she had project manager qualifications. One senior manager in our team that had a cushy role went and worked on projects and she was put in that role for a couple of months as they had no other job to offer her. She just updated her title on linkedin and ended up working for MS.

I studied economics at uni but didn't have the marks to get a job in that field. Some how I ended up in IT. I worked as a developer, then tech lead and now project manager. I never really wanted to manage projects however I didn't get an architect job a while back and then was offered a project manager role. I think I prefer managing projects.

footenote

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2013, 04:53:36 AM »
Unless you're interested in going into general management, I think the MBA is overkill, and you're best bet is the PMP certification.  In fairness, this opinion comes from a b-school dropout, for what that's worth.
I'll second Emg's opinion. (And I do have an MBA.)

An MBA is most useful for a general management track career. You study a metric ton of stuff that you may not have interest in / use for: accounting, finance, HR, marketing, etc.

My best friend was PMP certified three months ago. I was visiting at her house while she was studying and flipped through her exam-prep book. I thought I knew a fair amount about project management, but PMP is very intensive and the exam is notoriously difficult. (Her prep instructor told the class that most people do not pass on their first attempt.)

Interestingly, her employer is a high tech manufacturer and a VP told her he was very impressed that she is now PMP certified. She has a peer who has a masters degree in project management and she was told this has less value than PMP.

ljp555

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2013, 09:07:07 AM »
I have an MBA from a top 25 school, and it was worth it to me for where I was in my life--I was transitioning from military to civilian, had a full-tuition fellowship, and ended up with a 6-figure tech job. Still I agree with other posters that it needs to make sense with your career. For product management or marketing jobs, most people I know in those roles have MBAs, but that is not necessarily representative of the entire field (since many of those people I met in my MBA program!).

If you haven't already, I would search job postings for roles you're targeting--what are hiring managers looking for? Also search your network for anyone working in that area and talk to them about what would be most valued.

I'm curious about the PMP. It's highly valued in my field (operations/supply chain), but I don't think it's an option for me right now since it requires 4,500 hours of directing projects before you're eligible. Do you have that kind of experience, or how are you able to obtain it? It seems like it would be really hard to reach 4,500 hours of experience without already having a full-time project management position.

SAP5243

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2013, 01:33:46 PM »
This being MMM, the question I haven't seen addressed is this: What impact would that debt have on financial independence, and what impact would that degree have? Unless the degree has a short-term payoff, don't do it.

Good point.  Since this debt would be an add-on to my already 50k, I would imagine that it only further limit my financial independence.  However, that is why I am asking about the value of each of the certs/degrees, so I can determine if digging another debt hole will help me to get out of it faster altogether.

I'm not sure what the girl had but I don't think she had project manager qualifications. One senior manager in our team that had a cushy role went and worked on projects and she was put in that role for a couple of months as they had no other job to offer her. She just updated her title on linkedin and ended up working for MS.

I studied economics at uni but didn't have the marks to get a job in that field. Some how I ended up in IT. I worked as a developer, then tech lead and now project manager. I never really wanted to manage projects however I didn't get an architect job a while back and then was offered a project manager role. I think I prefer managing projects.

Did you have any prior experience as a developer, or did you just look around and get lucky?  I have some small side projects with web development but nothing that makes me that competitive, so I couldn't land a job in that area. 

Unless you're interested in going into general management, I think the MBA is overkill, and you're best bet is the PMP certification.  In fairness, this opinion comes from a b-school dropout, for what that's worth.
An MBA is most useful for a general management track career. You study a metric ton of stuff that you may not have interest in / use for: accounting, finance, HR, marketing, etc.

My best friend was PMP certified three months ago. I was visiting at her house while she was studying and flipped through her exam-prep book. I thought I knew a fair amount about project management, but PMP is very intensive and the exam is notoriously difficult. (Her prep instructor told the class that most people do not pass on their first attempt.)

Are you in project management by chance?  I also heard that the PMP class is very tough.  There is an online option but I feel that completing a course in PM online would defeat the purpose of the class, because PM is about being able to deal with people.

I have an MBA from a top 25 school, and it was worth it to me for where I was in my life--I was transitioning from military to civilian, had a full-tuition fellowship, and ended up with a 6-figure tech job. Still I agree with other posters that it needs to make sense with your career. For product management or marketing jobs, most people I know in those roles have MBAs, but that is not necessarily representative of the entire field (since many of those people I met in my MBA program!).

If you haven't already, I would search job postings for roles you're targeting--what are hiring managers looking for? Also search your network for anyone working in that area and talk to them about what would be most valued.

I'm curious about the PMP. It's highly valued in my field (operations/supply chain), but I don't think it's an option for me right now since it requires 4,500 hours of directing projects before you're eligible. Do you have that kind of experience, or how are you able to obtain it? It seems like it would be really hard to reach 4,500 hours of experience without already having a full-time project management position.

Is your tech job in a product manager type position?  I have talked to some of the hiring managers within my company and they said an MBA is not required but it makes you competitive.  I agree that it would be hard to even sit for the PMP without a PM position, and no I currently don't have any PM experience.  What is the best way to get a PM role?  I am hoping that if I do well in my current role in operations, they will let me try my hand at running some smaller projects to prove myself.

steveo

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2013, 02:01:50 PM »
Did you have any prior experience as a developer, or did you just look around and get lucky?  I have some small side projects with web development but nothing that makes me that competitive, so I couldn't land a job in that area. 

I worked in an admin role and ended up in a bottom feeder development role where they were going to train me. I had to do an aptitude test. At the end of the day I got lucky.

A more likely path would be to get a role as a business analyst.

If you really want to be a developer you could work really hard at gaining a great skill-set and move forward that way. For instance there is Kaggle if you want to become a data scientist. You could work on Linux development if you want to be a developer. This is the path in my opinion of becoming really good however there will be so few that make this path and end up forging careers where you earn good money. It will be tough and I see this as more a pathway for love of the job.

I actually want to do this however this is more something for when I retire. I have 3 kids and at this point I just don't have the time to make that effort and do well in my current job and keep fit and see my friends etc.


jrhampt

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2013, 03:29:59 PM »
I would go for the PMP.  You incur no additional costs that way, and you can always go for more school later on when you've paid off your undergrad loans.  I know a number of colleagues (I'm in insurance) who are trying to get PMP-certified. 

captainron

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2013, 07:33:53 PM »
What do you think you would you enjoy doing the most?  It isn't just the end that matters. 

I have a part-time MBA from a top 25 program and I am pretty sure it would have been hard for me stay the course if career prospects were the only reason for pursuing it.  My reasons for the MBA included broadening my skills so that I could land roles requiring business, management, and analytical skills to complement my technical background.  I do make quite a bit more money now and that is a real benefit but you have to be honest about your potential and you have to want to develop yourself.  Success, however you define it, doesn't just happen to you as a result of straight A's in b-school. 

I personally found the program very rewarding at the start but about half way through it became somewhat repetitious.  By the end I would have rather spent the evenings with my kids instead.  A good MBA program will also socialize you in a way and by the end you will be able to talk 'business'.  (which sounds like and often is a bunch of BS)  I did have a couple very cool experiences overseas that were straight-up a lot of fun and I think also gave me some perspective that ultimately led to a pretty cool international business development job. 

My .02 - do the PMP now while you work to pay off your student loans and also get some more work experience.  Then think hard about whether you want do the MBA or the other MS degree.










SAP5243

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2013, 09:00:58 PM »
I worked in an admin role and ended up in a bottom feeder development role where they were going to train me. I had to do an aptitude test. At the end of the day I got lucky.

A more likely path would be to get a role as a business analyst.

I have actually looked into a number of BA roles previously, but it's a little hard to wrap my head around because many of them have different roles.  BA in my opinion is a pretty general position and could mean a number of different things.  Also, I hear they have low ceilings and caps as far as earning power.  What's your take on this?

I would go for the PMP.  You incur no additional costs that way, and you can always go for more school later on when you've paid off your undergrad loans.  I know a number of colleagues (I'm in insurance) who are trying to get PMP-certified. 

I would definitely like to do that.  However, to sit for the PMP you have to have a good amount of hours and experience first.  If any of you have advice on the experience or skills needed to gain and excel in this role, please let me know!

What do you think you would you enjoy doing the most?  It isn't just the end that matters. 

Honestly, I think I would enjoy doing the MBA most.  The concepts learned in the MBA program are pretty broad, and I love the idea of learning to speak the language of "business" more effectively.  The MBA also gives me a great potential for networking, especially at UW in Seattle where many of the tech giants are.  If the the MBA was fully funded and less time intensive, it would be an automatic 1st choice for me.  Just the idea of digging a deeper debt hole scares me though!

ljp555

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2013, 09:38:10 PM »
Quote
Is your tech job in a product manager type position?  I have talked to some of the hiring managers within my company and they said an MBA is not required but it makes you competitive.  I agree that it would be hard to even sit for the PMP without a PM position, and no I currently don't have any PM experience.  What is the best way to get a PM role?  I am hoping that if I do well in my current role in operations, they will let me try my hand at running some smaller projects to prove myself.

No, I'm in a supply chain role. I like your plan to expand your current role to gain project management experience. How recently did you finish your undergrad? Especially since PMP isn't an option for a while, I would hold off on more education for a few years and keep getting more work experience. It will give you time to pay off your loans.

steveo

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2013, 02:11:55 PM »
I have actually looked into a number of BA roles previously, but it's a little hard to wrap my head around because many of them have different roles.  BA in my opinion is a pretty general position and could mean a number of different things.  Also, I hear they have low ceilings and caps as far as earning power.  What's your take on this?

The thing is in IT there are roles where people can be in my words forgers. A BA can be a forger but they can also be fantastic. As for money I think they typically get paid more than developers and there is definitely a pathway into Project Management. I think they are great training roles but personally not for me.

On the topic of forgers there is a guy in my team who is useless and has a design role. Whenever we have resource meetings everyone is trying to avoid having him on their projects.


SAP5243

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #21 on: November 18, 2013, 07:16:05 PM »
No, I'm in a supply chain role. I like your plan to expand your current role to gain project management experience. How recently did you finish your undergrad? Especially since PMP isn't an option for a while, I would hold off on more education for a few years and keep getting more work experience. It will give you time to pay off your loans.

I graduated very recently, May of this year to be exact.  And great point about paying off the loans.  I have a private Wells Fargo loan for about $20k at a very high interest rate (8.6%), so I would like to pay at least that one off ASAP.  The problem with waiting is I'm not sure how long exactly I will be with this company that provides the tuition assistance, as I would like to be working for one of the tech giants within the next 4 years or so (Microsoft, Google, Amazon).  I definitely want to take advantage of the program while I have the chance.

The thing is in IT there are roles where people can be in my words forgers. A BA can be a forger but they can also be fantastic. As for money I think they typically get paid more than developers and there is definitely a pathway into Project Management. I think they are great training roles but personally not for me.

On the topic of forgers there is a guy in my team who is useless and has a design role. Whenever we have resource meetings everyone is trying to avoid having him on their projects.

By forgers, do you mean people who are unskilled in their particular role?  And what is your understanding of what a BA does, just so I know that we are on the same page regarding the topic.

steveo

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #22 on: November 19, 2013, 12:13:13 AM »
By forgers, do you mean people who are unskilled in their particular role?  And what is your understanding of what a BA does, just so I know that we are on the same page regarding the topic.

Forgers are people that say they can do the job or act like they can but can't. It happens all the time.

In my team a BA can be quiet technical. For instance they might define technical requirements however it is at a detailed level. They might analyse data to determine how to build the solution and then provide the specifications to the developers. They might test the data. On one project that I am on right now the BA is carrying me. She does everything. Raise issues and risks. Pushes the other teams to do what is required of them.

Left

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #23 on: November 21, 2013, 12:56:08 AM »
not sure if this would swing you one way or another but
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/economic-recovery-leaving-mbas-behind/

though I'd still do MBA, I'm even considering it myself. I'm more in for the concepts you learn since it isn't needed for my field right now, unless I go into management but even then it isn't absolutely needed. But my point is that I'd do it for the learning and not because of future job possibilities.

SAP5243

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #24 on: November 21, 2013, 07:20:23 PM »
not sure if this would swing you one way or another but
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/economic-recovery-leaving-mbas-behind/

though I'd still do MBA, I'm even considering it myself. I'm more in for the concepts you learn since it isn't needed for my field right now, unless I go into management but even then it isn't absolutely needed. But my point is that I'd do it for the learning and not because of future job possibilities.

For some reason the article isn't loading, but I'll keep trying.  I am similar to you, I really like the MBA because of the things I would learn, but it is also about the potential money to be made since I am already in debt, and would be digging further if I chose to go back. 

Any other certs or degrees that anyone suggests to rise up in the tech industry?

ritchie70

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #25 on: November 22, 2013, 03:36:02 PM »
I'm curious about the PMP. It's highly valued in my field (operations/supply chain), but I don't think it's an option for me right now since it requires 4,500 hours of directing projects before you're eligible. Do you have that kind of experience, or how are you able to obtain it? It seems like it would be really hard to reach 4,500 hours of experience without already having a full-time project management position.

I think most people are somewhat creative about how they make it to 4500 hours. Were you a team lead? Bam, that counts. Did you have to plan stuff while you were in the military? Let's count that too. 4500 hours is basically slightly over two years. If you've been doing tasks that involve planning of a project, it gets counted as PM time.

Emg03063

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #26 on: December 16, 2013, 10:41:59 PM »
Unless you're interested in going into general management, I think the MBA is overkill, and you're best bet is the PMP certification.  In fairness, this opinion comes from a b-school dropout, for what that's worth.

Why did you drop out, did you not enjoy the coursework or was it just not worth it for the money?  Also, were you going to a top 10? 

Multiple reasons, first and foremost among them the fact that since I discovered mustachianism, I realized that I don't need to work long enough to justify the investment in order to become FI.  Not a top 10 program; local professional program.

mustacheme

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #27 on: December 17, 2013, 08:29:56 AM »
I recommend looking at some job postings on monster or other job boards. Find a couple jobs you would like to have in the future, and see what their requirements are.

Personally I'd lean toward the PMP certification first. You could always obtain an MBA later. I work in finance directly supporting PMPs for a tech company. Most if not all of the higher level project managers I work with are PMP certified, and it is often listed as a requirement on the job openings I see for them. I have seen MBA preferred on the job openings. I've never seen MS required, only "upper level degree", but an MBA would cover that.

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Re: MBA vs. Certifications vs. MS?
« Reply #28 on: December 26, 2013, 06:27:53 PM »
My company has a tuition reimbursement program that pays for a good chunk of schooling if I ever chose to go back.  I have always wanted to get an MBA because it seems to be the best degree to open up high-paying positions that might not be obtained otherwise.  However, after speaking to quite a few people, I am having second thoughts on if an MBA is even worth it.  My career goal is to get a "Product/Proj. Manager" or a "Marketing Manager" position at a high-tech company (Microsoft, Google, Amazon, etc.), and people have said that the MBA is not nearly as valuable anymore.

Here are the 3 things I am most interested in doing:
-Masters in Information Systems/Management, 1.5-2 years (Seattle Pacific University, pay about $10-15k out of pocket)
-MBA from Univ. of Washington, 2 years (top 25 ranked MBA, pay about $15-20k out of pocket)
-PMP Certification from UW (Project Management Professional, wouldn't pay anything)

I'm already $50k in debt from undergraduate school and trying to decide what option would be best for me to further my career.  Keep in mind that I still plan to work FT while pursuing any one of these so an MBA would obviously be the most time consuming. 

If there are any MMM'rs who got any of these degrees/certs, please share some insight and your thoughts, thank you!

SAP5243, why not both? :)  I'm a young guy that recently transitioned into the government contracting industry.  I work at an IT government contractor in the DC area and have a very strong professional network.  These guys value experience over everything; no one cares where you went to school or what degrees you have.  If you have the experience and get the job done on-time -- that's all that matters.  One of my contacts is a VP at one of the largest contractors.  He only has a B.S. and has Harvard MBA guys working for him.  One of our employees was a former CEO (with only a B.S.) and had PhD's working for him.  Another one of our technical employees only has a high school education, but is one of our brightest (He was teaching someone something one day.  This "someone" went to MIT for undergrad, and Columbia for his MBA.)

I mentioned to two of my MBA colleagues that I wanted to get my MBA and they both responded on different occasions, "Why do yo need to?  Learn on the job, you'll get more that way."  One of them put it nicely, "Don't look as formal education as a guaranteed path to more money/better position.  View it as a personal challenge."  Now, if you're wishing to be an executive/C-suite at a top company, your higher education credentials might matter, but otherwise experience and networking is king. 

If you don't care for the prestige of a top MBA program, I'd suggest to check out unow.com.  It's accredited, self-paced, and affordable (~5k).  You don't get the perks of a traditional b-school, but it's something to be considered.  After speaking with our recruiters, an MBA is an MBA (but you'll obviously stick out having attended a top program).  I'm in the same boat as you and trying to "hack" my education/career.  I'm planning on taking certifications/graduate certificates along with the unow.com MBA, as I definitely don't want any more educational debt (FI is the #1 goal, right? :)).  I'm doing the MBA as a personal goal, I've just always wanted to have one regardless where it's from :P. 

Feel free to PM if you have any questions!  And from my understanding, the PMP is a great route and seems like the hot thing right now.  Good luck!