Key takeaways

  • The average starting salary for an MBA graduate is often over $100,000
  • Many MBAs allow you to specialize in a field of business administration, like human resources or marketing
  • An MBA program can help you learn technical skills required for higher paying jobs

A Master in Business Administration (MBA) is often the go-to way to increase your experience and education for your career. Depending on the cost of your program, an MBA could have a strong return on investment.

You’ll need to consider the career path you want to pursue, especially if you want to get an MBA with a specific concentration. And they are a long-term investment — programs can take anywhere from one to five years.

The average starting salary of an MBA graduate is often in the six digits. If you’re ready to advance your career, consider some of the more popular paths and potential salaries as you research MBA programs.

Popular MBA career paths

An MBA opens up many opportunities for graduates, but what you can do with an MBA depends on your interests and area of expertise. Many MBA programs offer concentrations in these areas so you can take in-depth courses in your desired field.


Graduates focusing on business management often take positions leading teams, forming strategic business plans or implementing change. Potential jobs for MBA graduates include operations manager, business consultant or product manager.


Courses in traditional and emerging marketing channels prepare graduates for MBA careers in marketing, brand management and advertising. You will learn to use social media platforms, digital ads and content to meet business goals. Studying consumer behavior and market forecasts also prepares you for product management or sales roles.


Entrepreneurs take on multiple roles in their business enterprises, from product development to finance to marketing — all skills taught in an MBA program. Potential careers can range from owning your own businesses to working for a startup in product management, business development or consulting positions.


A finance MBA includes courses in investment analysis, international markets, corporate restructuring and financial management. Jobs for MBA graduates in finance include investment banking and financial management, with some graduates eventually moving up to the role of chief financial officer.

Information technology

Organizations know how important it is to protect their data and secure their operations from cyberattacks. Individuals with technical and business skills will find opportunities in nearly every industry. An MBA in information technology builds on technical skills with leadership, communication and strategic business planning courses. This concentration is perfect for a career as a chief technical officer, IT project manager, information systems security manager or data analyst.

Human resources

The human resources office helps recruit and retain the many employees necessary for a company’s success. An MBA focused on human resources MBA jobs include positions like human resource manager, hiring manager or chief happiness officer. This course of study can also prepare you for MBA careers in benefits and compensation analysis.

What is the average salary for MBA graduates?

MBAs can be pricey, with costs exceeding six figures at some top schools. Luckily, quality MBA programs can offer a great return on investment.

According to the Corporate Recruiters survey, run by the Graduate Management Admission Council, the average median salary for a 2023 MBA graduate was around $125,000 in the United States. For comparison, Payscale estimates a lower average base salary of $98,000.

That said, salaries vary by location and position. For instance, sales managers earn less on average than senior project managers, and workers in metropolitan areas are likely to earn more than those in rural areas. Your income may also depend on where you earn your MBA, as school ranking does play a role in initial compensation.

What are the highest-paying MBA jobs?

Your salary as an MBA graduate depends largely on which type of job you’d like to pursue. The highest-paying jobs can easily net you a six-figure salary. Some of the highest-paying MBA jobs, as reported by PayScale, include:

  • Chief financial officer ($160,413 average salary): A CFO manages the finances of a company, working to comply with financial regulations and establish company budgets.
  • Business development director ($130,643 average salary): Business development directors oversee a comprehensive business growth strategy, developing plans to streamline tasks and work with clients to establish relationships or negotiate with suppliers.
  • Chief investment officer ($168,287 average salary): The CIO evaluates an organization’s financial health, funding needs and goals. They also help individuals looking to invest in organizations identify suitable investment opportunities.
  • Senior product manager ($133,109 average salary): Senior product managers oversee the development and launch of new products for a business using research and consumer data to identify demand for specific product lines or improvements to existing products. They also work with the marketing, sales and production staff as part of a collaborative product launch.
  • Information technology manager ($114,110 average salary): IT managers oversee a company’s computer infrastructure, develop policies to protect company information, implement security measures to protect data and evaluate existing systems. They may plan for upgrades, recommend new software or identify vendors for specific needs.
  • Management consultant ($120,706 average salary): Management consultants help businesses identify problems and develop solutions by thoroughly analyzing business data. They may specialize in productivity, company image or change management.
  • Business operations manager ($100,858 average salary): Operations managers oversee daily operations and ensure a safe, productive workplace. These managers handle a variety of problems, from staffing to facility needs. They also keep morale high among the employees while working closely with their supervisors to implement company initiatives for improved operations.
  • Financial manager ($103,143 average salary): Financial managers analyze financial data and processes to develop budgets, track expenses and forecast areas for potential growth. They also look for places where they may save money through operational changes.
  • Hospital administrator ($124,219 average salary): These managers work in health care settings like doctor’s offices or hospitals. They may oversee managing staff, setting schedules and tracking budgets. The hospital administrator also understands the regulations surrounding health care services and ensures that the hospital meets reporting deadlines.
  • Marketing manager ($83,400 average salary): Marketing managers help create advertising and merchandising promotions. They may work with a product or product line, overall branding or marketing for the entire company.
Bankrate insight
If you’re considering going back to school for your MBA and will need financial assistance, you’ll want to review student loan options. Focusing on lenders that offer the best graduate school loans can also help narrow down your options.

MBA career resources

If you’re getting your degree soon or are ready to make a career move, there are several resources to help along the way:

  • American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management: The AAHAM helps you build connections with healthcare leaders across the country through events, chapter meetings and legislative advocacy events. The organization also offers professional certifications aligned explicitly with the needs of the healthcare industry, plus an exclusive job bank.
  • American Bankers Association: Members enjoy access to on-demand continuing education, access to online discussion groups and a dedicated job board for members.
  • American Management Association: This organization provides management and leadership development courses to help business leaders succeed. It also offers the AMA Certified Professional in Management certification, which measures analytical intelligence, relationship management and business competency.
  • American Marketing Association: This national organization of marketing professionals offers continuing education and access to academic journals and marketing toolkits. You can also pursue professional certification or take part in “micro-internships.”
  • Sales and Marketing Executives International: This sales-focused organization offers a career center to connect employers with job seekers, assist with resume development and prep members for interviews.
  • Society for Human Resource Management: This international society brings together more than 300,000 human resources professionals to share resources on compliance, policies and legislative changes. The online community fosters networking and peer support.

Frequently asked questions about MBA careers

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 28 percent growth in the employment of health services managers from 2022-2032, a much faster growth than average. Other MBA jobs with above-average projected growth include information systems managers at 15 percent, management analysts at 10 percent and financial managers at 16 percent.
  • Getting an MBA can result in a bump in your starting salary. The Graduate Management Admission Council found that the median salary for new hires with an MBA degree is around $125,000, while the median salary for new hires with a bachelor’s degree is $75,000. That said, you’ll need to keep in mind that going back to school will likely require additional student loans, which will increase the amount of debt you have when you graduate.
  • The length of time an MBA program takes to complete depends on several factors, like if you’re a full- or part-time student and the type of MBA program you’re enrolled in. A full-time MBA program typically takes two years to complete, while a part-time MBA program can take three years or more. Many colleges and universities also offer accelerated MBA programs, which can be completed in 12 to 18 months.