The Highest-Paying MBA Concentrations

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Updated October 12, 2022

Pursuing an MBA concentration can lead to advanced job opportunities and increased salaries. Explore the 10 highest-paying focus areas for MBA graduates.

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The business field includes many sectors with specialized roles, so choosing an MBA concentration takes some consideration. If you're enrolled in an MBA program, you can develop specialized skills in areas such as finance, human resources, and operations management. After graduating, you can pursue jobs in your expertise.

An MBA is one of the best ways to acquire advanced knowledge in business. According to the 2022 Corporate Recruiter's Survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 92% of business recruiters planned to hire MBA graduates in 2022. Additionally, GMAC data shows MBA graduates in the U.S. earn $40,000 higher in median annual salary than bachelor's graduates &mdash: $115,000 vs. $75,000.

While you may not choose your specialization based only on earning potential, this guide spotlights the highest-paying MBA concentrations.

What Are MBA Focus Areas?

A general MBA program emphasizes widely applicable business skills. It also builds broad knowledge of major business concepts in management, finance, and marketing.

While MBAs with concentrations cover the same business foundations, the curricula for these programs focus on one area, such as healthcare management or international business. MBA focus areas, also called concentrations or specializations, may target core business practices — such as marketing and human resources — or specific industries, like real estate and information technology.

Concentration or specialization options vary widely among schools. While not all MBA programs feature concentrations, most schools offer at least a few options, often in popular fields such as management and finance.

You may select an MBA focus area to pursue your interests or distinguish yourself in a competitive job market. The advanced knowledge learned in an MBA concentration can help you pursue more specialized career paths. Studying an in-demand concentration may also lead to more job opportunities with higher salary potential.

Should You Major in an MBA Concentration?

Completing an MBA specialization can help increase your career prospects and salary potential. Concentration tracks focus on one business area, which can help prepare you for specialized jobs.

However, obtaining a specialization can also have its drawbacks. Because a general MBA builds broad, widely applicable skills, the degree prepares graduates to pursue various careers across industries. More specialized pathways, such as real estate, healthcare, or information technology, may limit you to pursuing career paths within that industry.

A concentration is a natural choice if you're already employed or committed to pursuing a career in a specific industry. However, a general MBA may serve as a more practical, open-ended choice if you're just entering the business field or uncertain about your career path.

The Best MBA Concentrations According to Industry Trends

Workforce specialization has led to increased demand for MBA concentrations. Additionally, employers value candidates with specialized industry knowledge and skills. However, demand for the best MBA concentrations fluctuates according to industry trends. When selecting a specialization, you should consider salary prospects and industry growth.

The 2022 GMAC report found that 92% of surveyed recruiters said their company plans to hire new MBA graduates in 2022. Recruiters in the healthcare industry had the most confidence in job growth — 97% of respondents believed their company would bring on MBA graduates in 2022. Other industries with high recruiter confidence in MBA-related hiring growth include staffing and manufacturing, with 95% and 94% of recruiters responding affirmatively.

Though not specific to MBAs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 13% growth in computer and information technology jobs from 2020 to 2030. With 667,600 new careers expected in this time period, organizations need skilled managers who can develop and oversee technology operations. Trends in this field include cloud computing, big data, and information security.

Consulting boasts similarly strong growth projections. The BLS projects management analyst careers to increase 14% from 2020 to 2030. MBA graduates typically pursue consulting careers after gaining professional experience. Graduates with management and entrepreneurship concentrations can advise businesses on general management practices. Graduates with information technology or healthcare management specializations can consult for companies in their respective areas of expertise.

An aging U.S population has led to dramatic growth in the healthcare field. The BLS projects 16% growth in healthcare occupations from 2020 to 2030. Medical and health services managers are projected to grow even faster, with jobs projected to increase 32% from 2020 to 2030. An MBA in healthcare management paired with industry experience can help you distinguish yourself in this field.

Business and finance occupations, while not expanding as rapidly as healthcare and technology, are still projected to grow 8% from 2020 to 2030, adding more than 750,000 new jobs. The BLS projects high demand for accounting, auditing, and market research professionals.

The Highest-Paying MBA Programs

Below, we explore high-paying industries and careers where MBA graduates are in high demand. Some of the fields with the highest earning potential include finance, IT, and healthcare administration.

Pursuing a specialized MBA concentration can help you improve your career prospects and qualify for advanced positions. However, many of the highest-paying MBA positions require significant professional experience.

Management

One of the most popular, highest-paying MBA concentrations, management tracks prepare you to plan, supervise, and make decisions for organizations of all types. General MBA programs also typically focus heavily on management.

A management MBA program offers the advantage of building broad skills that apply to most business sectors. These programs cover organizational management, marketing, economics, finance, and business ethics. A management concentration prepares graduates for myriad career paths. However, certain positions may prefer candidates with more specialized concentrations.

Candidates specializing in management can progress to top leadership roles with some of the highest-paying MBA salaries. These managerial jobs almost always require significant professional experience in addition to education.

Average Salaries for Management Careers, August 2022
Career Early Career Average Salary (1-4 Years) Midcareer Average Salary (5-9 Years) Experienced Career Average Salary (10-19 Years)
Chief Executive Officer $116,000 $131,000 $156,000
Vice President, Operations $100,000 $118,000 $138,000
Divisional Vice President, General Manager $106,000 $136,000 $137,000

Source: Payscale

Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship focuses on strategies and best practices for new business ventures. Programs emphasize innovation, business planning, and business forecasting methods. If you're interested in starting businesses or expanding existing companies, an entrepreneurship concentration may serve you well.

The top entrepreneurship programs cover planning and feasibility assessment methods. You learn the tools to analyze and project the marketability and potential success of business ideas. You also explore innovation and how businesses enact effective change in their processes and services.

Salary expectations for entrepreneurship MBAs can vary more than other concentrations due to the unpredictable nature of starting new business ventures. However, entrepreneurship graduates can also use their skills to pursue leadership and consulting roles with existing businesses, yielding some of the highest-paying MBA salaries in the entrepreneurial field.

Average Salaries for Entrepreneurship Careers, August 2022
Career Early Career Average Salary (1-4 Years) Midcareer Average Salary (5-9 Years) Experienced Career Average Salary (10-19 Years)
Chief Executive Officer $116,000 $131,000 $156,000
Management Consulting Firm Partner $140,000 $180,000 $223,000
Venture Capital Firm Associate $84,000 $120,000 $150,000

Source: Payscale

Finance

Because finance is a key business component, this MBA concentration can offer high salary potential. This specialization teaches you to analyze financial outcomes that help in decision-making processes, ensuring organizations remain profitable. The BLS projects finance manager careers to grow 17% from 2020 to 2030, with particularly high projected growth for cash management and risk management roles.

An MBA in finance builds vital management, financial planning, and financial analysis knowledge. The top MBA schools for finance typically cover topics like budgeting, accounting, economics, and taxation. Many programs also explore high-level frameworks for analyzing and projecting financial change, such as analytics and big data.

Financial management and analysis play a vital role in any organization. Therefore, finance graduates can pursue careers in many business sectors. As with most career paths, additional education typically leads to advanced career opportunities. However, professionals also need significant experience to move into the highest-paying financial management positions.

Average Salaries for Finance Careers, August 2022
Career Early Career Average Salary (1-4 Years) Midcareer Average Salary (5-9 Years) Experienced Career Average Salary (10-19 Years)
Financial Director $60,000 $71,000 $87,000
Financial Controller $74,000 $87,000 $93,000
Vice President of Finance $108,000 $125,000 $149,000

Source: Payscale

Marketing

Many companies rely on marketing to raise brand awareness and generate interest in their products or services. Marketing includes advertising, promotional strategies, social media, public relations, and market research. The BLS projects the job outlook for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers to grow 10% from 2020 to 2030.

Marketing managers commonly develop, oversee, and assess the effectiveness of marketing strategies. An MBA in marketing explores key business management practices alongside marketing topics such as advertising and public relations. MBA marketing programs also prepare graduates to analyze marketing trends and implement effective marketing strategies that reflect changing consumer behaviors.

Earning an MBA in marketing prepares candidates for marketing management and director positions. Managers may take responsibility for individual aspects or the overall direction of a company's marketing strategy.

Average Salaries for Marketing Careers, August 2022
Career Early Career Average Salary (1-4 Years) Midcareer Average Salary (5-9 Years) Experienced Career Average Salary (10-19 Years)
Marketing Director $62,000 $87,000 $107,000
Chief Marketing Officer $96,000 $129,000 $177,000
Advertising and Promotions Director $52,000 $65,000 $78,000

Source: Payscale

Information Technology

IT underpins most aspects of modern business, creating a high demand for technology leaders who can oversee companies' computing strategies and digital operations. The BLS projects computer and information technology careers to grow 13% from 2020 to 2030.

An MBA in information technology combines business management knowledge with modern computing concepts, giving you the skills to integrate technology and business operations. Most programs cover advanced topics in management, organization, and other broadly applicable business concepts. You may also explore IT-related subjects like network administration, information security, and software architecture.

Top MBA programs in information technology prepare graduates for a variety of mid- and high-level leadership positions. Given the widespread use of technology, professionals with this degree can typically pursue careers with many types of organizations. The highest-paying MBA careers, such as chief technology officer, often require significant experience.

Average Salaries for Information Technology Careers, August 2022
Career Early Career Average Salary (1-4 Years) Midcareer Average Salary (5-9 Years) Experienced Career Average Salary (10-19 Years)
Chief Technology Officer $119,000 $140,000 $166,000
Director of Information Systems $84,000 $97,000 $113,000
Information Technology Manager $71,000 $81,000 $94,000

Source: Payscale

Information Security

Information security focuses on securing digital information and computer networks for organizations. The need to secure data, coupled with increases in cyberattacks, leads to high demand for information security professionals. The BLS projects jobs for information security analysts to grow 33% from 2020-2030, a much faster-than-average rate.

An MBA in information security prepares you to develop, implement, and manage an organization's computer networks and security protocols. Many graduates pursue positions in information security, network administration, and information technology management.

Top information security programs typically feature an overview of advanced business and management principles, with more technical courses focusing on network security practices.

An MBA in information security prepares graduates for many high-paying security and management roles. However, candidates typically need extensive professional experience to advance to the highest-paying MBA positions.

Average Salaries for Information Security Careers, August 2022
Career Early Career Average Salary (1-4 Years) Midcareer Average Salary (5-9 Years) Experienced Career Average Salary (10-19 Years)
Information Security Manager $98,000 $118,000 $124,000
Network Architect $96,000 $112,000 $124,000
Information Systems Manager $74,000 $82,000 $96,000

Source: Payscale

Human Resources

Human resources (HR) managers ensure employee satisfaction and productivity by implementing effective workplace policies and systems. At the highest management levels, they may direct an organization's overall HR strategy, design performance assessments, implement pay and benefits systems, and develop protocols for addressing workplace issues.

MBA programs in HR focus on employee management, including labor relations, organizational development, and performance management. You gain the skills necessary to negotiate the needs of organizations and employees. Programs emphasize effective communication and management systems that meet legal and professional standards.

Given the widespread need for their skills, HR managers can find employment in many types of organizations. The BLS projects positions for HR managers to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030.

Average Salaries for Human Resources Careers, August 2022
Career Early Career Average Salary (1-4 Years) Midcareer Average Salary (5-9 Years) Experienced Career Average Salary (10-19 Years)
Human Resources Manager $62,000 $71,000 $75,000
Human Resources Director $68,000 $83,000 $97,000
Compensation and Benefits Manager $79,000 $84,000 $97,000

Source: Payscale

Healthcare Management

The healthcare industry's rapid growth has increased demand for managers who can apply business principles to healthcare administration. MBAs in healthcare management have developed to meet this need. The BLS projects positions for medical and health services managers to grow 32% from 2020 to 2030, suggesting high demand for professionals with this MBA credential.

An MBA in healthcare management focuses on healthcare administration topics such as health finance, healthcare law, and healthcare informatics. Top healthcare management programs prepare you to manage healthcare personnel and services. You examine general business principles, including marketing and finance. They also review specialized industry concerns such as insurance billing and hospital operations.

Healthcare MBA graduates can manage operations in various settings, including hospitals, clinics, community health centers, and insurance agencies.

Average Salaries for Healthcare Management Careers, August 2022
Career Early Career Average Salary (1-4 Years) Midcareer Average Salary (5-9 Years) Experienced Career Average Salary (10-19 Years)
Medical Director $220,000 $221,000 $226,000
Hospital Administrator $80,000 $90,000 $91,000
Program Director, Healthcare $67,000 $82,000 $92,000

Source: Payscale

Real Estate

An MBA in real estate applies business and management principles to the real estate market. These programs teach you how to analyze market trends and supervise real estate projects.

Real estate MBA programs build general business and management skills along with specialized real estate knowledge, including contracts and relevant legal issues. You also analyze market trends regarding real estate and property development. Courses often highlight population behavior, employment trends, and city planning.

Given the specialization of the degree, real estate MBA graduates typically find employment with real estate and property firms. However, they may also pursue careers in other sectors where property transactions come into play, such as finance. At the highest levels, real estate MBAs may manage firms or specific company divisions, such as real estate acquisitions.

Average Salaries for Real Estate Careers, August 2022
Career Early Career Average Salary (1-4 Years) Midcareer Average Salary (5-9 Years) Experienced Career Average Salary (10-19 Years)
Vice President, Real Estate Acquisitions $90,000 $123,000 $150,000
Real Estate Development Manager $80,000 $99,000 $118,000
Senior Financial Analyst $79,000 $86,000 $90,000

Source: Payscale

International Business/Global Management

A globalized business market demands professionals who can supervise operations both domestically and abroad. The international business and management MBA concentration highlights management skills in a global context, emphasizing the unique challenges of operating in international markets.

In this program, you prepare to work with companies operating in the U.S. and abroad. International business MBAs cover topics like supply chain logistics, organizational management, finance, and marketing, all with an emphasis on international operations. Most programs also examine international trade and investment regulations, often focusing on specific global markets such as Europe or Asia.

Entry- and mid-level professionals can pursue international sales manager positions and international trade and compliance manager roles. MBA graduates in more advanced roles may manage global accounts or direct global operations.

Average Salaries for International Business/Global Management Careers, August 2022
Career Early Career Average Salary (1-4 Years) Midcareer Average Salary (5-9 Years) Experienced Career Average Salary (10-19 Years)
Global Account Manager $80,000 $89,000 $113,000
Global Program Director $89,000 $94,000 $155,000
International Sales Manager $62,000 $77,000 $94,000

Source: Payscale

Common Questions about MBA Concentrations

How do I choose my MBA concentration?

When choosing an MBA concentration, consider your interests and strengths, industry trends, and educational opportunities. You may choose a fast-growing or high-paying MBA specialization or a focus area that aligns with your career goals and skill set.

Which MBA is in high demand?

The BLS projects 32% growth for medical and health services managers between 2020 and 2030, accounting for over 139,000 new jobs. Overall, the BLS projects 906,800 new management positions will open between 2020 and 2030.

Which MBA specialization has the highest salary?

According to the BLS, some of the highest-paying management occupations related to MBA concentrations include computer and information systems management, financial management, marketing management, and human resources management. Each of these professions earned median annual wages above $125,000 as of 2021.

Which MBA specialization is best?

The best MBA specialization depends on your goals. Among management occupations, computer and information systems managers received the highest median annual wages as of 2021, while the BLS projected the highest growth for medical and health services managers.

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