What can you do with an MBA?

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Many students seek out a Master in Business Administration (MBA) degree to propel their careers, move into managerial roles and build business skills. Some of the most popular career options for MBA graduates are management, marketing, finance and human resources, but the skills you learn are easily transferable to a number of roles.

Popular MBA career paths

An MBA degree opens up a number of opportunities for graduates, and the career path you choose depends on your interests and area of expertise.

Management

Graduates with a focus 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.

Marketing

Courses in traditional and emerging marketing channels prepare graduates for MBA careers in marketing, brand management and advertising, since students learn how to use the latest technology to leverage social media platforms, digital ads and content to meet business goals. Studying consumer behavior and market forecasts also prepares these leaders for roles in product management or sales.

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs take on multiple roles in their business enterprise, from product development to finance to marketing — all skills that can be learned in an MBA program. Many entrepreneurship graduates dream of owning their own business, but they may also thrive in a startup company where they can work on multiple projects or in product management, business development or consulting positions.

Finance

A finance MBA curriculum includes rigorous 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 skills in leadership, communication and strategic business planning, 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. Human resources MBA jobs include 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?

MBA graduates from the class of 2021 receive an average salary of $75,461, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. However, that starting salary can rise over time; PayScale reports that the overall average salary for MBA graduates is currently just over $90,000. This can also 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.

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 net you $100,000 per year or more. Some of the highest-paying MBA jobs, as reported by PayScale, include:

  • Chief financial officer ($136,950 average salary): A CFO manages the finances of a company, working to comply with financial regulations and establish company budgets.
  • Business development director ($106,124 average salary): Business development directors oversee a comprehensive business growth strategy, developing plans to streamline tasks, work with clients to establish relationships or negotiate with suppliers.
  • Investment banker ($101,543 average salary): Investment bankers evaluate an organization’s financial health, funding needs and goals. They also help individuals looking to invest in organizations identify suitable investment opportunities.
  • Senior project manager ($93,518 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 ($88,908 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 ($88,428 average salary): Consultants help businesses identify problems and develop solutions by conducting a thorough analysis of business data. Consultants may specialize in productivity, company image or change management.
  • Business operations manager ($77,443 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 work to keep morale high among the employees while working closely with their supervisors to implement company initiatives for improved operations.
  • Financial manager ($74,512 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.
  • Health services manager ($70,625 average salary): These managers work in health care settings like doctor’s offices or hospitals. They may oversee hiring and management of staff, setting schedules and tracking budgets. The health service manager also understands the regulations surrounding the delivery of health care services and ensures that the hospital meets reporting deadlines.
  • Marketing manager ($66,597 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.

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 health care 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 health care 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, access to academic journals and marketing toolkits. You can also pursue professional certification or take part in microinternships.
  • 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

Is earning an MBA a good career option?

MBA programs allow you to tailor your curriculum to your career interests in areas of finance, marketing or entrepreneurship, and the skills you learn are transferable to many roles. What’s more, MBA graduates have high earning potential: PayScale puts the average salary of MBA graduates nationwide at around $90,000.

Which MBA is most in demand?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 32 percent growth in employment of health services managers from 2019-29, a much faster growth than average. Other MBA jobs with above-average projected growth include information systems managers at 10 percent, management analysts at 11 percent and financial managers at 15 percent.

What jobs can I get with an MBA and no experience?

While many MBA students work a few years before starting their graduate education, not all graduates bring experience in their selected field. If you do not have experience in your career path, consider internships while completing your degree. Many companies may consider MBA graduates for midlevel management positions in finance, operations, marketing or human resources.

Does an MBA increase salary?

Getting an MBA degree 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 $115,000, while the median salary for new hires with a bachelor’s degree is $65,000.

How can I get a job after earning an MBA?

Your search for MBA careers begins before graduation day arrives. Take advantage of opportunities through your school to network with alumni or area employers, seek out internship opportunities during the summer and become involved in a professional organization in your field. Your school will also offer career services to help you refine your resume, build your online profile and prepare for interviews.

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