Several industries have sprung to life after years of stagnant wages in California, offering both career opportunities and the potential for higher salaries amid the strong and steady job growth in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

The digital media and entertainment (DME) sector in particular is experiencing explosive growth.

Management and executive positions in DME have been on the rise thanks to the emergence of new platform-based distributors, such as Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and Hulu. These and other “new entrants,” such as Venice-based social media company Snap Inc., have successfully moved beyond distribution into the production of high-quality original content.

The rapidly growing gaming cluster in Silicon Beach and the emergence of e-sports have created entirely new subsectors of DME. Across all subsectors, effective marketing and communications is now dependent upon fine-tuned multichannel strategies in traditional, digital and social media. Leading DME companies use sophisticated analytics-based decision-making for fan engagement, audience development and revenue optimization. Together, these developments create a need for a new generation of leaders for the entertainment, media and sports industries.

This is an exciting time for Southern California’s economy – and for individuals who aspire to management and executive positions in DME. Getting an advanced degree, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA), will give business professionals a leg up on career advancement. Earning an MBA at an early stage in your career not only helps you climb the ladder faster, it also provides greater job security in the event the DME market softens.

So, what are potential digital media employers looking for, and how can an MBA benefit you?

Gaining an advanced understanding of the digital innovations occurring in media and the entertainment industry across development, production, pricing, audience development, marketing and distribution is a key starting point. Beyond that, competencies in big-data analytics and evidenced-based decision-making in all functional areas are highly sought after.

As companies grow more reliant on digital technologies, a critical need is emerging for professionals who can cross the domains of business, technology and management.

Another opportunity is specialization in mergers and acquisitions.

Media companies are looking to pursue more mergers and acquisitions to strengthen content quality, distribution and value, according to Deloitte’s 2018 Media and Entertainment Outlook. Deloitte predicted M&A activity would likely increase as media companies look to grow larger, and Comcast – first looking to acquire 21st Century Fox and now setting its sights on Sky for global distribution – is likely a bellwether for the industry.

The combination of new players and globalization is creating hypercompetitive dynamics in media and entertainment sectors. This, in turn, creates demand for more sophisticated management and leadership talent in order to remain competitive. Beyond career opportunities and job security, business school alumni earn substantially higher salaries upon graduation, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council.

Pepperdine Graziadio Business School is launching a new MBA concentration in entertainment, media and sports management to meet the growing need for management and leadership talent in these sectors. We also are launching a new executive DBA for business executives who already hold master degrees but wish to deepen their thinking and develop evidence-based insights through applied research on a specific business or management issue.

As the exciting intersection of business, data and technology continues to evolve, graduates with advanced degrees that span these areas will continue to lead the charge.

Dr. John Mooney is executive director of the Institute for Entertainment, Media, and Culture at Pepperdine Graziadio Business School.