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Often thought of as the most versatile master’s degree one can earn, an MBA can be put to use in an almost limitless number of businesses and industries. However, due to the massive economic crisis that struck the global economy in 2008, career opportunities for MBA graduates plummeted. Entering 2011, MBA hires are back on the rise after a grim outlook just a few years ago, particularly in two industries. After taking in strong numbers of new hires in 2010 and according to recently published figures for 2011, consulting and financial services companies are giving MBAs around the globe a reason to smile once again.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the number one occupation hiring MBA graduates in 2010 was consultancy firms. One such company who increased hiring in 2011 was Deloitte. Recent demand for more consultants has the company increasing MBA graduate hires by 50% this year. The increase will account for approximately 400 positions filled by the company’s on-campus recruiting program alone. The company will also hire additional professionals with MBAs that are not included in the 400 positions acquired by the on-campus recruiting practice. Deloitte also uses a unique practice that recruits students for internships prior to beginning their MBA program called the Deloitte Consulting Immersion Program. Another company seeking to increase the number of MBA graduates in 2011 is Fortune 500 regular Boston Consulting Group, which expects to increase its MBA hires by 18% in 2011. The company is typically one the nation’s top MBA recruiters each year. Top consultancy firms Bain and Co. and Accenture PLC also plan to increase MBA hires by double digits in 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The field also shows a strong growth and earnings potential over the next seven years as well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), employment of management analysts is expected to increase by 24% through 2018. As of May 2008, the median annual wage for management consultants was $73,570. The middle 50% of those in field earned from $54,890 to $99,700, while the top 10% took home more than $133,000. These BLS also reported that the figures represent base salary only, as most companies in the field offer bonuses, and in some cases, profit sharing for top executives.

Another sector currently on the heels of consulting firms in terms of the number of MBA graduate new-hires are financial services companies. According to a recent Graduate Management Admission Council survey of 905 companies and 127 business schools, 71% of companies in financial and accounting fields plan to take on MBA graduates throughout 2011, with an average of 19 new hires per company. The figure is up from last year from 67% of companies hiring an average 14 new employees. Similar to gains in consultancy, financial-services giants Goldman Sachs Group and Morgan Stanley are plan on hiring twice as many MBA graduates as in 2008. Both also put a heavy emphasis on on-campus recruiting of MBAs in their final year of study.

In addition, a company hiring in the financial sector is banking giant J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. The company currently has more than 15,000 openings, according to While most of the available positions at the company are for entry-level positions in bank branches, the company is in need of post-graduate educated financial managers to work on the corporate level as well, in positions such as fund control analysts and in asset management.

Another positive for MBA graduates hoping to enter a career in the financial sector is that competition for MBA talent amongst competing companies has driven starting salaries higher. The GMAC survey showed expected starting salaries to be $91,433 in 2011, however, the figure is still not in line with inflation. While the growth through 2018 for financial managers is not as strong as the rate projected for consultants, 8%, the median annual income for those working as financial mangers is still strong at $99,330 as of May 2008. The middle 50% earned between $72,030 and $135,070, while those in the top 10% of the industry earned more than $166,000 annually as of May 2008.

As a positive sign of economic recovery after what has been a rough five years across nearly all industries, the Wall Street Journal reports that the starting salary for those entering the financial field has finally recovered to it was before the downturn in economy.