Interactive Tool: Estimate Your Post-MBA Salary
If you’re looking to accelerate your career, switch industries, or bag a top salary, you should consider pursuing an MBA.
MBA graduates occupy top positions in companies across industries and some of the world’s best-known firms—including Amazon, Microsoft, and McKinsey—are major recruiters of MBA talent.
So what salary can you earn after an MBA? How does the MBA job application process work? And where do most MBA students get jobs after graduation?
Here’s everything you need to know about MBA jobs, from the top MBA employers, to the highest-paying MBA jobs, as well as how to stand out in your MBA job applications.
What can you do with an MBA? With an MBA you can:Boost your
Thirty-eight percent of candidates apply for a business degree to raise their salary, according to the mba.com Prospective Students Survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council, the makers of the GMAT™ exam.
Average MBA salary varies across region and school. Stanford MBA grads enjoy the world’s highest average MBA salary within three years of graduating, at over US$222k.
Even outside of the United States, you can earn a lot with an MBA. Graduates from IIM Ahmedabad in India can expect to earn around US$192K within three years, while INSEAD MBA graduates earn around US$188K on average.
An MBA is also a sure-fire way to secure your career acceleration. The authority and reputation of the degree helps graduates rise into managerial and leadership positions. Thirty five percent of mba.com registrants say that obtaining a senior position was behind their motivation for applying.
While a promotion may come with a higher salary, it’s also a chance to have greater responsibility and autonomy over your work. By progressing to management positions, you can also make use of the interpersonal and leadership skills you’ll pick up from your MBA.
Many MBA students are career switchers, looking to use their MBA to pivot into a new industry or role, or start a career in a new country. Thirty percent of mba.com registrants apply to business school to get a job outside of their country of origin. And some students make the MBA “Triple Jump,” changing industry, job function, and location all at the same time.
Abhisekh Shah made the MBA triple jump into venture capital after his MBA at HEC Paris—more than one-in three MBA grads from the school do the same. “From day one, I immersed myself in activities relevant to private equity—internships, pitching competitions, MBA clubs. My MBA opened those doors to me,” he says.
Do you need an MBA to become an entrepreneur? No, but it can certainly help. A quarter of MBA candidates told GMAC they have ambitions of starting their own company.
MBA specializations in entrepreneurship, combined with business school accelerators and incubators, help give entrepreneurial graduates the tools to launch their own businesses.
In your MBA class, you’ll meet a group of likeminded, driven individuals from across the world: once you graduate, this could prove invaluable. Beyond your immediate cohort, you also enter into a vast global network of alumni, who are just as likely to give you help or advice when you need it.
Cesar Aya graduated from Oxford University’s Saïd Business School in 2008 during the global financial crisis. He credits his MBA network for helping him navigate the crisis and take his career forward.
“Devote time to people that really know you, know who you are, what you have done, and who you can ask for help—for an endorsement, for getting a job, or introductions to someone who might invest in your idea,” he advises.
Given the cost of an MBA, it’s important to assess the return on investment (ROI) you’ll get from it. The good news is, given the high salary you can expect to earn after an MBA, you can expect to make a strong return on your investment shortly after graduation.
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But MBA ROI is about more than just salary alone. Each MBA candidate will have their own set of career goals and ambitions and so, for each person, what constitutes ROI will be different. As a generalist management degree, the MBA helps keep your options open to multiple career paths, while also helping you to succeed on the path of your choosing.
There are career opportunities and jobs for MBA graduates in every industry. You’ll find MBA graduates in government, healthcare, consumer goods; in big companies, startups, and small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs).
While an MBA degree sets you up to pursue whatever career path you’re passionate about, the most popular industries for MBA graduates at any business school are typically consulting, finance, and technology. Companies across all three sectors plan to increase MBA hiring in 2021, according to GMAC’s Corporate Recruiters Survey.
Given the generalist focus of MBA programs, it’s no wonder why so many MBAs are drawn to consulting. Management consultants require a broad overview of how different parts of businesses work, and more importantly, how it all fits together.
The Big Three management consulting firms—McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain & Company—are the three biggest employers of MBA graduates. An MBA consultant salary at one of the Big Three is US$165,000 for a graduate recruit, with performance and signing bonuses adding up to US$70,000 on top of that.
MBA consulting jobs at the Big Three aren’t the only ones going. Graduates often land roles at Big Four firms—KPMG, Deloitte, PwC, EY—as well as boutique consulting firms like LEK Consulting and AT Kearney.
“MBA programs are a tremendous source for talented, ambitious people. The skills you develop and the time to reflect on your professional goals during the program have consistently provided tremendously talented people for Bain & Company,” notes Keith Bevans, global head of consultant recruitment at Bain.
Mergers and acquisitions (M&A), asset management, investment banking, venture capital, and private equity are all popular finance jobs for MBAs.
Top MBA employers in finance include JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs. These organizations demand graduates with strong leadership and analytical skills combined with financial knowledge. There’s also demand for MBAs at alternative finance firms in fintech or in climate finance.
The highest-paying finance jobs include:
Big tech firms regularly hire MBAs in managerial or leadership positions. This goes all the way to the top: Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Amazon’s new CEO Andy Jassy, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg all have MBAs.
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Jobs in tech are a good fit for MBAs. Amazon has a set of leadership principles—including thinking big, taking ownership of your work, learning and being curious—which align well to the soft skills you’re taught during an MBA. In general, many tech companies operate like startups, relying on leaders to take on a broad set of responsibilities across functions.
The best paid jobs in technology include:
According to survey responses from corporate recruiters, the skills that employers most value in business school graduates include:
Demand for these different skills varies depending on the industry you’re looking to work in, and the size of your company. COVID-19 has also seen a shift in emphasis from employers, who may be looking for something different compared to pre-2020.
For example, the ability to navigate technological disruption saw a significant change of emphasis over the course of 2020, with the expectations that graduates can thrive in the increasingly digital environment that the pandemic created.
Dan Black, global recruiting lead at Ernst & Young (EY), explains how, with the disruption of the pandemic, recruiters increasingly value the MBA skillset. “Transformative leadership; dealing with uncertainty; being an inclusive leader; being comfortable with technology—these things have never been more important,” he says.
When you start your MBA, you may have clear goals and ideas of what you want to achieve, or you may need a little more guidance before focusing on a specific role or industry.
Business schools offer you plenty of assistance and advice on your job search, with dedicated MBA careers teams whose function is to facilitate connections with employers and strengthen your chances in job applications.
Networking and careers events form a significant part of this. Business schools invite MBA recruiters to deliver presentations and meet with you at careers fairs. They may also bring in alumni in certain industries to help give you advice targeting a specific job or company, to help you understand what you can do with an MBA.
“We organize more than 200 lectures, activities, and forums per year, inviting global MNC CEOs and professionals to share their stories of success and network with students,” Zion Cao, director of the Career Development Office at Fudan University School of Management, explains.
MBA careers teams also deliver personalized career mentoring. This involves mock interviews, self-assessments, and resume advice. They’ll also help you align your goals and ambitions to the right sort of jobs and roles for you.
If you’re looking to progress your career with an MBA, but are unsure of what steps to take next or what MBA jobs might suit you best, check out our Career Planning Guide.