MBA in Finance: Salary and Career Options
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Professionals with an MBA in finance can advance their careers and increase their salary potential. They can also secure high-level jobs as senior financial analysts or chief financial officers.
MBA graduates earn $27,980 more on average than those with business administration degrees, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' 2021 Salary Survey.
Read on to explore salaries and careers for MBA graduates with a concentration in finance.
What Is an MBA With a Concentration in Finance?
An MBA with a concentration in finance blends business concepts with financial skills. Graduates assist companies with managing and analyzing their finances. Courses may include managerial accounting, business planning, and investment banking.
A finance MBA best suits professionals interested in corporate budgeting and planning. Students might also seek careers in investments, microeconomics, or risk management. Companies hiring experienced finance professionals may prefer MBA-holders with a finance concentration.
This degree prepares graduates for advanced financial careers with higher salaries. For example, a financial manager can transition to a chief financial officer (CFO). PayScale data from January 2022 lists the average annual salary for CFOs as $138,510.
MBA in Finance Salary Outlook
MBA in finance salaries vary by position and experience level. Entry-level jobs tend to pay less than mid- and late-career roles. Likewise, non-management positions typically pay less than executive positions.
The table below lists several MBA in finance careers and their salaries based on experience level.
Annual Salaries by Experience for Finance Careers, Jan. 2022
|MBA Finance Career||Early Career (1-4 years)||Midcareer (5-9 years)||Experienced (10-19 years)||Late Career (20+ years)|
|Chief Financial Officer||$101,950||$119,170||$143,130||$151,240|
Source: PayScale, January 2022
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows financial managers earning a median annual salary of $134,180. This exceeds the national median salary by $92,230.
Location can influence finance salaries. For example, New York, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia ranked among the highest-paying states for financial managers as of May 2020. Idaho and Mississippi paid the lowest average wages. Four metropolitan areas, including San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California; and Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut, paid average annual salaries exceeding $190,000.
Finance salaries may also vary by industry. The securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investment activities industry was the highest-paying finance industry in May 2020. This industry offered an average annual salary of $206,050. Credit intermediation careers paid a lower average annual salary of $124,040.
Careers in Finance
MBA in finance students learn about advanced financial concepts and business strategies. The curriculum prepares students to oversee and manage a company's financial plan.
Unlike a bachelor's degree, an MBA in finance prioritizes leadership and analytical skills, which financial executives need to guide successful businesses. This degree can help entry-level professionals advance to higher-tier positions within a company.
MBA graduates can apply learned concepts and skills to several industries beyond finance. For example, healthcare systems use finance managers, analysts, and consultants for reporting and budgeting. Other relevant sectors include government, manufacturing, and technical services.
Popular Careers for MBA in Finance Graduates
Graduates can choose from several MBA finance careers based on their skills and interests. We've noted some of the most popular career paths for MBA in finance graduates below.
Chief Financial Officer
A CFO leads a company's financial strategy and oversees financial departments. The CFO's responsibilities make this one of the highest-paying financial careers for executives.
Financial analysts consult with organizations on spending, budgeting, and investing. They also determine a company's value and compare its strategies to general business finance trends.
Financial managers support a company's financial strategy by supervising its accounting, budgeting, and investment teams. Some financial managers work in specific departments, like risk or credit management.
Investment bankers locate funders and investment opportunities for new or growing businesses. Some responsibilities include conducting financial assessments, negotiating contracts, and selling financial products.
Additional Finance Careers
- Certified Public Accountant
- Credit Manager
- External Auditor
- Financial Controller
- Personal Financial Advisor
- Risk and Insurance Manager
- Sales Manager
Insights from an MBA in Finance Graduate
Brandon Renfro is an assistant professor of finance at East Texas Baptist University and a practicing financial planner. He has worked in the financial services industry since 2010. He holds the retirement income certified professional designation from The American College of Financial Services. He lives in Hallsville, Texas, with his wife and daughter and is a member of the Arkansas Army National Guard.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in finance? Is it something that has always interested you?
I remember the first finance lecture I ever heard in college. It was about the time value of money in a retirement planning context. That single lecture had me hooked. Only with hindsight have I realized that if something excites you that normally bores others, you have found your thing. I had no idea at the time that I would become a finance professor myself, but looking back it seems obvious. Retirement planning is still an interest of mine, too, and I maintain a professional practice in addition to teaching.
What was the job search like after graduating with your MBA?
After my MBA I immediately started working part time for an investment management company. I then continued with my master’s in finance and went on to my Ph.D. Fortunately, the finance field in higher ed does not suffer from the same labor surplus that other fields are known for, and I was able to quickly find a full-time academic position.
How can students set themselves apart from fellow MBA and finance graduates?
Professional credentialing beyond the MBA can be a big differentiator. Depending on the field you want to go into, CMA [certified management accountant], CFA [chartered financial analyst], or CFP [certified financial planner] could be viable options. Because MBAs are typically midlevel managers, some leadership or management experience would be useful, too. This can include managing teams for civic groups or nonprofits. The edge here is to show that you can get results when given responsibility for groups or resources.
How has earning your MBA advanced your finance career path?
I was exposed to a lot of topics I likely would not have been exposed to outside the MBA. This helps even when teaching finance courses to undergraduates or in the MBA program because I am able to relate the material better to non-finance courses. There’s also the universal understanding that an MBA is a practitioner’s degree, which I think makes me more relatable to non-academics. Everyone knows an MBA represents a practical, application-oriented education.
What are some of the most rewarding aspects about working in finance? Some of the most challenging aspects?
The most rewarding is when you see a genuine feeling of satisfaction or accomplishment from someone you have helped. This applies to students when they finally understand a concept they have been struggling with, and also to people who feel better about their own retirement. The most challenging thing about working in finance is that people tend to have an aversion to finance much the same way they do to math. They can convince themselves that something is too difficult for them to understand. That can make it hard to help some people because you have to get past that artificial barrier.
What advice would you give to students considering pursuing an MBA and a career in finance?
Differentiate. Everyone you will be competing against in the job market will also have an MBA. That goes back to those credentials and work experience. Think about what will make you stand out, and strengthen that.
Professional Finance Organizations
Professional organizations help finance workers earn certifications, continue their education, and stay current on developments in the field. These organizations also host forums and conferences that advance the field and encourage professional networking. Many organizations also maintain job boards or career resources to assist in professional development.
Since 1939, the AFA has encouraged and improved higher learning financial studies. This association also advocates for sound personal and business financial practices.
AMA promotes online management training for professionals, including finance and accounting courses. Membership includes free webinars, templates, and skills assessments for professional development.
AFP provides certification, training, and networking events for leaders in corporate treasury and finance. This association aims to set a global standard of excellence for its field.
Common MBA in Finance Questions
What careers can you get with an MBA in finance?
A finance MBA can lead to various leadership opportunities. Degree-holders might become CFOs, financial managers, or financial controllers. Graduates may also work in many industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, and technology.
How much money can you make with an MBA in finance?
Salaries vary depending on job and experience level. PayScale's January 2022 data lists an average MBA in finance salary as $101,000 to start. High-level positions, like CFOs, earn an average annual salary of $138,510.
Which MBA has the highest starting salary?
U.S. News & World Report indicates that Stanford University's MBA program resulted in the highest average starting salary and signing bonus for 2020. MBA programs at New York University and Dartmouth College round out the top three.
Is an MBA in finance in high demand?
An MBA in finance can lead to several financial management careers. The BLS projects a 17% employment spike for these professionals from 2020-2030, a much faster-than-average job growth rate.
Featured Image: Maskot / Maskot / Getty Images
- American Management Association. (n.d.). https://www.amanet.org/
- Association for Financial Professionals. (n.d.). https://www.afponline.org/
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- Kowarski I. (2021). Find MBAs that lead to employment, high salaries. https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/articles/mba-salary-jobs
- Payscale. (2021). https://www.payscale.com/
- Renfro B. (n.d.) Personal interview.
- The American Finance Association. (n.d.). https://afajof.org/
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics. (2021). Financial managers. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes113031.htm
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook. (2021). Financial managers. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/financial-managers.htm
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