An affordable MBA degree can boost your chances of a high return on investment (ROI) after graduation. MBA-holders can pursue some of the highest-paid careers in finance, marketing, healthcare, and technology.
Employment data suggests promising growth for many MBA careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that management analyst jobs will increase by 11% and medical and health services management positions will grow by 32% from 2019-2029.
Some states offer excellent opportunities for business growth, allowing more opportunities for MBA graduates to find high-paying jobs. Our ranking highlights the best states for MBA graduates, detailing average MBA salaries, in-demand business careers, and top employers.
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States With the Best Job Markets
This ranking showcases the top 10 states for MBA graduates. Factors determining the order of states include the prevalence of companies hiring MBA graduates, the average MBA salaries, and the potential ROI. We also considered each state’s commitment to fostering business growth.
Cost of Living: 10.7% Above Average
Per Capita Income: $41,521
Average Annual MBA Salary: $95,694
More than 500,000 companies operate in Washington, making it one of the best states for MBA graduates to find work in their field. The state’s commitment to business tax incentives and infrastructure improvements nurtures an appealing business-friendly culture for various industries.
Leading Business Careers: Washington’s pivotal role in the airline industry makes business leaders with experience in corporate and international strategy in demand. Accounting for 8.52% of the state’s workforce, the manufacturing industry demonstrates significant demand for MBA graduates experienced in industrial and supply chain management.
Top Business Employers: Some of today’s largest global companies, such as Boeing, Amazon, and Microsoft are headquartered in Washington. Amazon recently became the state’s highest-employer, edging out Boeing. Still, nearly half of Boeing’s positions are located in Seattle, one of the best cities for finance jobs and other business roles.
Cost of Living: 39.1% Above Average
Per Capita Income: $41,857
Average Annual MBA Salary: $89,875
The fourth most populated state in the U.S., New York is also home to New York City, the most populated city in the country. Empire State Development’s Small Business Division offers several resources for entrepreneurs to plan, begin, and grow their businesses within the state.
Leading Business Careers: With its bustling culture stemming from New York City, New York offers a broad spectrum of business careers in healthcare, technology, and retail. Finance careers are especially prominent in New York City, the United States’ financial industry hub.
Top Business Employers: New York houses some of the best-known businesses in the world, such as JPMorgan Chase, Pfizer, and PepsiCo. Leading MBA employers in New York include Deloitte and IBM, offering high-paying positions in consultancy, operations management, and finance management.
Cost of Living: 51.7% Above Average
Per Capita Income: $39,393
Average Annual MBA Salary: $85,331
Known as the home of Hollywood, California is also one of the most tech-forward states in the country. Innovations in environmental and digital technology shape the corporate climate. The state’s Entrepreneurship Task Force, led by California CEOs and founders, implements resources to advance new business efforts.
Leading Business Careers: Several of California’s fastest-growing businesses belong to the healthcare industry, indicating a need for careers in healthcare management. The state’s emphasis on performing arts has also led to a demand for business managers and agents for creatives, such as actors and singers.
Top Business Employers: California’s business landscape includes several of today’s largest companies, including Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and The Walt Disney Company. These organizations employ MBA graduates in marketing, business strategy, logistics and supply chain management, and project management. Facebook, Google, and Twitter offer some of the highest salaries for MBA graduates within the state.
District of Columbia
Cost of Living: 61.1% Above Average
Per Capita Income: $59,808
Average Annual MBA Salary: $79,570
While not a state, the District of Columbia is one of the best cities for business majors to pursue a career. Located in a pivotal area for land and water transportation, the District of Columbia appeals to businesses reliant on shipping. A long list of incentives for new or relocated businesses encourages economic development in the area.
Leading Business Careers: Nearly half of the top 50 in-demand careers in the city fall within the business, operations, and marketing fields. With a strong commitment to technological growth, the District of Columbia also offers managerial information technology roles, including computer and information systems managers and management analysts. The U.S. Capitol also provides managerial opportunities within governmental agencies.
Top Business Employers: The District of Columbia houses several government offices, such as the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the United States Department of Labor. These government agencies may provide MBA-holders with job opportunities as management analysts, international relations officers, and operations research analysts.
Cost of Living: 25.1% Above Average
Per Capita Income: $44,888
Average Annual MBA Salary: $75,915
New Jersey is one of the best states for business culture and diversity. Its ideal location is within driving distance from major cities, such as Philadelphia and New York City. The city’s unique geographic landscape of farmland and industrial areas attracts business from several industries.
Leading Business Careers: With healthcare and pharmaceutical companies driving the New Jersey economy, the state offers healthcare management jobs and similar roles to MBA graduates. New Jersey also appeals to marketing agencies, with several of the best cities for marketing graduates within its borders, including Jersey City, Trenton, Hoboken, and Paramus.
Top Business Employers: Johnson & Johnson, RWJBarnabas Health, and United Airlines make up the top companies in New Jersey that employ MBA graduates. RWJBarnabas Health offers several business leadership positions, such as chief operating officers, department directors, and practice administrators. The company also boasts generous benefits, including competitive salaries and tuition reimbursement.
Cost of Living: 5.6% Above Average
Per Capita Income: $41,053
Average Annual MBA Salary: $70,542
Colorado established itself as a technology hub since the 1960s computer industry boom and IBM’s move to Boulder. The shift has led to strong entrepreneurial support in Colorado’s largest cities, creating an ideal location for startup growth.
Leading Business Careers: Two of the best cities for graduates in Colorado include Denver and Boulder, providing tech-forward and entrepreneurship-friendly business cultures. Colorado also accommodates several industries, allowing opportunities for high-paying roles as public relations and business managers. MBA graduates may also find leadership roles in human resources, life sciences, and technology.
Top Business Employers: Colorado employs business leaders in top aviation and health companies, such as Lockheed Martin and HealthONE Corporation. The Denver International Airport employs 35,000 people with positions available for customer service supervisors, retail managers, and project managers. Leading telecommunications companies, CenturyLink and Comcast also employ business, marketing, and project managers within the state.
Cost of Living: 31.6% Above Average
Per Capita Income: $46,241
Average Annual MBA Salary: $81,956
Considered one of the best states for business, Massachusetts gives companies multiple tax incentives for starting and growing businesses in the state. The Bay State also boasts the second-highest average salaries. Nearly 45% of its population holds at least a bachelor’s degree.
Leading Business Careers: As a pivotal state for healthcare leadership, Massachusetts spotlights healthcare administration and managerial opportunities for MBA graduates. Technology companies like Google and HubSpot also pave the way for IT-focused business careers as business intelligence managers, business analysts, and global product managers.
Top Business Employers: MBA graduates can find employment with technology, finance, and healthcare companies in the state. The top employers in Massachusetts include Partners HealthCare System, Google, General Electric, and Liberty Mutual.
Cost of Living: 0.7% Above Average
Per Capita Income: $40,635
Average Annual MBA Salary: $73,185
Virginia has a reputation as one of the most business-friendly and tech-forward states. The Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant encourages companies to locate headquarters or outposts within state limits, creating abundant opportunities for new MBA graduate jobs. Recently, Amazon chose Virginia as home for its second headquarters, adding 25,000 jobs by 2030.
Leading Business Careers: Virginia’s rich shipbuilding history provides job opportunities for supply chain and project managers. Virginia companies may also look for MBA graduates to grow and manage tech-based businesses. Individuals with healthcare administration MBAs may pursue employment with leading healthcare employers, VCU Health Systems and the Health and Vascular Institute.
Top Business Employers: Notable employers include Dollar Tree, Hilton Worldwide Holdings, VCU Health Systems, and Northrop Grumman. MBA graduates may also find employment opportunities with Virginia Commonwealth University.
Cost of Living: 8.5% Below Average
Per Capita Income: $32,267
Average Annual MBA Salary: $77,877
Texas houses headquarters for 50 Fortune 500 companies, proving its appeal for businesses. The state’s lower-than-average cost of living, affordable operating costs, and a sound economy fosters business growth. The Texas Enterprise Fund encourages businesses with potentially high employment rates to lay roots in the state.
Leading Business Careers: The machinery and equipment, business and financial, and energy sectors lead the Texas business landscape. MBA graduates can pursue job opportunities as manufacturing managers, energy and sustainability managers, financial advisors, and industrial safety analysts or managers.
Top Business Employers: Some Texas employers that seek MBA degree-holders include Livestock Investors, NEC Corporation of America, and Jacobs Engineering Group. Texas’ diverse industries also fill leadership roles in hospitality, energy, manufacturing, retail, finance, and freight. Critical to the state’s economy, oil and gas companies like Schlumberger and ExxonMobil employ project coordinators, supply chain managers, and financial analysts.
Cost of Living: 10.8% Below Average
Per Capita Income: $32,657
Average Annual MBA Salary: $72,663
Tech and innovation drive Georgia’s economy due to top talent from schools like the Georgia Institute of Technology and major investments in research. Businesses of all sizes find the state welcoming, thanks to tax credits and exemptions and business development programs. Georgia’s capital, Atlanta, boasts close to 1,300 regional and global headquarters.
Leading Business Careers: Top Georgia industries include manufacturing, automotive, digital media and entertainment, food processing, and energy manufacturing. These businesses seek graduates with expertise in manufacturing management, marketing, agribusiness, and energy and sustainability management.
Top Business Employers: Some of the largest Georgia companies, like Cox Media Group, Randstad USA, and Georgia-Pacific, LLC, pursue MBA graduates to fill critical roles. A leading industry in the state, manufacturing companies, like General Parts Company and WestRock, employ business analysts, procurement managers, and supply chain managers. Delta Airlines, United Parcel Service, Porsche, and First Data also hire qualified individuals for procurement, financial, and global business services.
Finding New MBA Graduate Jobs
MBA graduate jobs exist in every state, but job-seekers benefit from reviewing multiple resources. Online job boards, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and Google Job Search, provide an excellent starting point. However, using state-specific job boards can lead to more opportunities. Each state in this ranking offers a searchable job database:
Networking through alumni programs, job fairs, mentor recommendations, and professional organizations may also lead to promising job opportunities. Attending prominent business conferences also lets you meet founders, recruiters, and leaders. Notable annual networking events include the Startup Grind Global Conference in California and DigiMarCon in multiple locations, such as Orlando, Florida, and Houston, Texas.
While our ranking represents the best states for business in 2021, this can change in the future. As economies and business incentives shift, it’s possible to see more career opportunities for MBA graduates arise in other states. The BLS provides state-by-state data to help you monitor the current business career climate across the country.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a demand for new MBA graduate jobs?
The current U.S. job market shows a 34% decline in MBA jobs from May 2019 through May 2020. However, the BLS projects strong growth in several advanced positions requiring an MBA, including health services managers, financial managers, and human resources managers.
What companies hire the most MBA graduates?
Some of the best companies for MBA graduates fall within the technology industry, such as software development and cloud computing companies. Other top employers include healthcare, construction, aviation, retail, and finance.
Which are the best cities for business majors?
Some of the best cities for business program graduates are Washington, D.C.; Boston, Massachusetts; Atlanta, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; New York City, New York; and Seattle, Washington. These cities offer leadership roles in various industries, including healthcare, technology, and consulting.
Which states are doing the best economically?
Employment rate, business environment, and growth can determine a state’s economic health. In 2021, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho boast the strongest economies based on these factors. Washington, Massachusetts, and Nevada round out the top six on the list.
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