As the industry standard for many advanced careers, an MBA is the go-to graduate degree for business majors looking to expand their job opportunities. These programs build advanced business knowledge and high-level skills in management, entrepreneurship, international business, and marketing. The knowledge and skills gained from an MBA program apply to many industries, and the degree increasingly serves as a requirement for many top positions.

The MBA builds skills for leadership and management positions, and graduates can pursue a wide variety of career paths, including high-paying occupations such as marketing manager, financial manager, investment banker, and management consultant. MBA careers often feature high salaries: the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that top executives earn an annual median salary of $104,690; most other management positions also boast six-figure salaries.

This page offers an overview of the MBA and its professional value, including common coursework, specialization options, popular career paths, and salary potential. You'll also find info on professional organizations for MBA graduates and answers to common questions about MBA jobs.

MBA Career Overview

An MBA familiarizes students with advanced principles of management, operations, finance, marketing, accounting, and economics. MBA programs appeal to many types of students, and schools offer a diverse selection of program formats, professional concentrations, and enrollment options.

Many MBA programs emphasize flexibility for working students, offering part-time enrollment options, online learning, or evening courses. Other programs may use an accelerated format, enabling candidates to complete their studies in as little as one year.

An MBA builds high-level business skills applicable to many different industries, and programs increasingly offer a varied assortment of concentration options to meet management challenges in different fields. Some MBA concentrations focus on specific business concepts, building specialized skills in areas such as finance, marketing, human resources, or entrepreneurship. Other programs concentrate on specific industries, such as healthcare, information technology, or agriculture.

Regardless of concentration pathway, an MBA prepares graduates for professional advancement in their chosen field. MBA recipients pursue a wide variety of careers in business and finance, including marketing management, financial management, sales management, investment banking, and management consulting.

While earnings can vary widely among career fields, MBA candidates can generally expect to earn increased salaries commensurate with their advanced level of education. A 2018 study from education research and consulting firm QS Quacquarelli Symonds reports that MBA graduates can expect a total return on investment of over $390,000 within a decade of earning the degree.

Benefits of Earning an MBA

Higher Earning Potential

MBA graduates can generally expect to earn higher annual salaries compared to bachelor's degree holders. MBA careers commonly command six-figure salaries, and these positions frequently call for candidates to hold a graduate degree. According to the Financial Times, graduates of many top MBA programs can expect to increase their salary by more than 100%.

More Job Opportunities

The specialized skills developed in an MBA prepare graduates not just for career advancement, but a wider variety of job opportunities as well. Many MBA skills apply to a variety of career paths, and the academic rigor of the degree demonstrates to employers that MBA graduates can take on many different responsibilities.

Ability to Enter a New Job Field

Many MBA programs focus on specialization, and choosing a unique concentration option can help students transition into an entirely new job field. For example, a candidate from a business background may enter the healthcare field after earning an MBA with a specialization in healthcare management.

Ability to Advance Within a Current Career

MBA candidates commonly pursue the degree to advance in their current career path. Many programs cater to working students who need to balance classes with full-time employment. MBA students may also see professional gains as they begin to apply their course learning to their current job.

Chance to Build Professional Connections

An MBA offers obvious value in the form of advanced business knowledge, but students also benefit from opportunities to network with peers, faculty, and other business professionals. MBA graduates typically emerge with a much wider network of professional contacts, which can create more job opportunities, among other benefits.

MBA Salary Potential

Marketing Manager

Marketing managers oversee promotions, advertising, and other marketing measures for organizations, helping to generate interest in services or products. They earn an annual median salary of $135,900, and the BLS projects positions in the field to grow 8% from 2018-2028.

Sales Manager

These managers direct an organization's sales, setting goals and overseeing other sales representatives. Sales managers earn an annual median salary of $126,640, and the BLS projects positions in the field to grow 5% from 2018-2028.

Financial Manager

Financial managers take responsibility for an organization's finances, overseeing investments and developing strategies to meet long-term financial goals. They earn an annual median salary of $129,890, and the BLS projects positions in the field to grow 16% from 2018-2028.

Management Consultant

Also known as management analysts, these specialists help organizations improve their efficiency. They earn an annual median salary of $85,260, and the BLS projects positions in the field to grow 14% from 2018-2028.

Investment Banker

Also known as securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents, investment bankers facilitate connections between buyers and sellers, conducting trades and offering financial advice. They earn an annual median salary of $62,270, and the BLS projects positions in the field to grow 4% from 2018-2028.

Professional MBA Organizations

FAQ

What jobs does an MBA get you?
MBA candidates can pursue an assortment of career paths, although the degree commonly serves students looking to move into leadership and management. MBA graduates often pursue business management positions in fields including finance, human resources, sales, administrative services, and marketing. Graduates may also find positions in industries such as information technology, healthcare, construction, and industrial production.
Is MBA a good career option?
An MBA is a popular choice for candidates looking to increase their career prospects or advance in their current careers. The degree provides advanced skills that can help students progress to management and leadership positions, which yield higher salaries. However, the degree most commonly serves candidates hoping to pursue leadership roles in larger organizations, so it may not always be the best choice for small business owners or those uninterested in leadership.
What type of MBA is in demand?
MBA programs offer many different concentrations, with some popular options including general management, international management, strategy, entrepreneurship, and finance leadership. MBA concentrations that focus on specific high-demand industries, such as healthcare administration, information technology, and information security, may also lead to strong career prospects, as demand for MBAs in these fields is likely to mirror general industry growth.
Is business a good career?
Judged by standards of job growth, career opportunities, and salary prospects, business is a strong career choice. MBA graduates often pursue management and leadership roles, which yield high salaries and strong potential for advancement. Business also ranks as the most popular graduate major in the United States, demonstrating the value that students find in pursuing MBAs and other related business degrees.

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