10 Best Jobs for MBA Graduates
Of all the possible graduate degrees, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is consistently the most popular for men and women. It should be no surprise that MBAs are such an attractive degree program, as graduates are consistently in-demand and command high salaries.
Even with the global disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic dropping the median salary for MBA careers by around $10k, it still remained above six figures. Furthermore, despite the general downturn, in 2020 some fields actually showed increases in MBA hiring, and those MBAs hired by the “big three” fields of consulting, finance and technology continued to command higher than average salaries.
There’s a lot of opportunities out there, but the range of pathways for MBAs is so wide that it can be challenging to understand what specific careers are open to you. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular specializations.
What are the most common MBA fields?
While a general MBA degree offers the widest possible option for careers, students can choose to specialize in IT, healthcare, finance, media management or other fields to be more competitive in those chosen fields.
The most common fields that MBA students choose to specialize in are:
Within different degree programs, different specializations will cater toward single fields, or offer experience and study that can be applied to different positions within a field. For example, a course in Social Media Marketing might be most applicable for someone getting into consulting or starting a business as an entrepreneur, but it can also be important for a Chief Marketing Director in any field of business.
Specific topics for further specialization include:
|Supply Chain Management||Communication and Media Management|
|Economics||Management Information Systems|
|Healthcare Management||Organizational Management|
|Healthcare Administration||Project Management|
|Healthcare Informatics||Marketing Management|
|Information Systems||Social Media Marketing|
|Strategic Communication||General Business|
Top 10 Jobs for MBA Graduates
There are MANY different positions an MBA graduate can excel in, and they all have something to offer. Here are some of the MBA careers that trend with higher median salaries, more opportunities for hiring or possibilities for career advancement.
- Business Operations Manager
An Operations Manager will oversee the general operating procedures of a business, mainly around planning the use of materials and human resources. Their expertise and knowledge is most useful when transitioning to or implementing a new work environment. Operations Managers will work with the legal and safety department to ensure compliance with laws and regulations.
- Median salary – $125,740
- Companies currently hiring for this position include Bank of America, the U.S. Army, Amazon, Lockheed Martin and the Walt Disney Company.
- Helpful MBA specializations include Operational Management, Supply Chain Management and Human Resources.
- Public Relations Director
All companies require a means to communicate directly to the public; if they’re not contracting with an outside firm then they likely have their own internal Public Relations department. The PR Director is in charge of managing the image and brand of the company, overseeing social engagement and audience engagement. They determine how promotional material and ad campaigns are developed and establish standards for contacting the media and developing press releases.
- Median salary – $118,430
- Companies hiring for this position include Universal Music Group, the U.S. Marine Corp, Microsoft, Kent State and Penske Media.
- Helpful MBA specializations include Marketing and Consulting.
- Sales Director
Any large company that sells goods or services needs someone who will determine how the company can best optimize sales. A Sales Director will supervise all sales activities and personnel. Their ultimate goal is to ensure that sales adheres to and meets all company goals. The director will be responsible for implementing quotas, hiring salespersons, meeting with regional managers and communicating with clients.
- Median salary – $147,580
- Companies hiring for this position include Indeed, Yelp, Allstate, Oracle and PepsiCo.
- Helpful MBA specializations include Marketing, Project Management, Strategy and Product Management.
- Financial Manager
Financial managers are most often hired to work at financial institutions, though any sizable company will want a Financial Manager in order to oversee the company’s financial condition. Financial Managers prepare financial statements and forecasts for the company and ensure that any legal requirements are met. They’re largely responsible for the company’s budget and attempt to solve cash flow problems by directly overseeing cash and investment procedures.
- Median salary – $134,180
- Companies hiring for this position include J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Amazon, Google and American Express.
- Helpful MBA specializations include Finance, Strategy and Accounting.
- Chief Operating Officer
The COO is the C-suite executive that oversees all daily operations related to managers and employees. They work with managers and supervisors to ensure that all departments are following the vision of the company. Their duties can include assessing productivity and revenue, reviewing company logistics, and performing assessments focused on what’s working well and what can work better.
- Median salary – $200,000+
- Companies hiring for this position include Google, YMCA, Apple, Rockstar Games, U.S. Airforce and Dell Technologies.
- Helpful MBA specializations include Operational Management, Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Project Management.
- Chief Technical Officer
The CTO is the C-suite executive who oversees all of the technological aspects of the company. They are responsible for creating and overseeing the technical vision of the company and implementing strategies to ensure that all departments are aligned. The CTO also is the authority for the company’s tech teams and oversees all R&D procedures.
- Median salary – $197,840
- Companies hiring for this position include Salesforce, 99designs, U.S. Army, Lenovo, Intuit and Cisco.
- Helpful MBA specializations include Information Systems, Strategy, Cybersecurity and Operational Management.
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
If the CTO is the high level planner, then the Computer and Information Systems Manager is the one who has boots on the ground. These managers are in charge of coordinating and directing all computer activities, checking in with teams to ensure that deadlines are met and goals are reached. They directly oversee the company IT department to discuss responsibilities, tasks and goals. The manager also has to make sure that current technology systems are up to the task.
- Median salary – $151,150
- Companies hiring for this position include Apple, U.S. Navy, HP Inc., Dow, Northrop Grumman and MetLife.
- Helpful MBA specializations include Information Systems, Cybersecurity and Operational Management.
- Chief Marketing Director
The CMO is the C-suite executive who handles all the marketing needs of the company. They’re responsible for designing and implementing the creative vision of how the company markets itself. The CMO works across departments, with advertising, marketing and sales on strategies to best promote the company’s goods and services. They’re responsible for analyzing consumer data, assessing the competition and researching potential marketplace opportunities.
- Median salary – $197,840
- Companies hiring for this position include GE, IBM, Prudential, NeonCRM and Global Data Systems.
- Helpful MBA specializations include Marketing, Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Operational Management.
- Management Consultant
Rather than being employed within a company, MBA graduates may work for a consulting firm that contracts with companies on a temporary basis. These consultants work to resolve problems or provide insights for companies that face certain turning points – such as starting up or rebranding. They also assist companies that are experiencing obstacles – like reduced sales or loss of market share. A management consultant’s specific job would be to assist the company boost efficiencies in order to reduce costs and maximize profits.
- Median salary – $97,580
- Companies hiring for this position include McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company and the Boston Consulting Group.
- Helpful MBA specializations include Consulting, Strategy and Entrepreneurship.
- Medical and Health Services Manager
A position specific to the healthcare industry, the Medical and Health Services Manager is in charge of running health care facilities. General responsibilities include maximizing the quality of care provided by the organization while minimizing costs. The manager is also ultimately responsible for organizing records and ensuring that everything is in compliance with government regulations.
- Median salary – $104,280
- Companies hiring for this position include United Health Group, Mayo Clinic, U.S. Coast Guard, Trilogy Health Services and Humana.
- Helpful MBA specializations include Operational Management, Human Resources and Healthcare Management.
* All quoted salaries and hiring companies were as of June 2021.
MBA Graduates as Entrepreneurs
While an MBA is a powerful tool for landing employment within a company, it can also be the launching point for your own self-employment as an entrepreneur. Although one doesn’t need an MBA to be an entrepreneur, some find the experience helpful in building the skills and knowledge base that will increase their chances of success. U.S. News & World Report wrote that “investing in a graduate business education can be a worthwhile pursuit, yielding strong returns in knowledge, contacts with classmates and alumni – who may become investors or collaborators – and easier access to resources and capital.”
There are no real measurements for a median salary of an entrepreneur, since the category is so broad and encompasses all manner of “small business owners,” the results can vary wildly. Indeed lists the median salary at $48,910, while Payscale lists an entrepreneurship MBA at $101,524. Depending on a whole range of factors entrepreneurs can risk losing money or stand to make millions, with the wealthiest entrepreneurs in a league of their own.
One particularly interesting pattern for most of the top 40 entrepreneurs, over 30 of them are in tech or tech-related industries.
What are the most common MBA alternatives?
Traditional MBA programs are full-time two-year programs that are taught on-campus. While that process can work for some students, others can find more support through MBA programs that offer accelerated time lines, specialized focus and online access.
One such exciting new alternative is University of San Diego’s Master of Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (MITE) program – one of the only online degrees offered jointly by the schools of Business and Engineering. It covers a unique combination of fundamental and advanced business models, concepts and practices familiar to an MBA program, but applied directly to the world of technology innovation, financing and market development.
As an accelerated, 20-month program, MITE’s focus on the connectivity of business and technology is a powerful resource for those looking to establish themselves as “intrapreneurs” within the tech field, or for those entrepreneurs eager to start up their own enterprises related to innovative technologies.
Curious about a Master’s in Entrepreneurship? Explore USD’s MITE degree program and accelerate your career.
FAQs about MBA programs
What are the advantages of an online degree?
Online and on-campus programs will offer the same curriculum, undergo the same accreditation process, and their degrees provide the same advantages. The larger differences lie within the benefit of being able to access the content online. Online learning is structured to be more flexible, as content can be accessed asynchronously. This allows it to be more convenient for students working around schedules, which can be a big benefit for those with work and family responsibilities. Online learning can also be less expensive due to lack of travel costs or need for on-campus housing. For more details, read more on our online learning page.
How do I decide which specialization is right for me?
If you don’t have a particular field that you’re invested in, then research is your best friend. Look up different programs and what specializations are offered, the courses required for them and the fields that are looking to employ those specializations. If you’re lacking direction, speak with a mentor or advisor about how to get started.
What about professional training?
Learning on the job is certainly a great method to familiarize yourself with the specifics of a particular industry. The challenge lies more in having the resume or the connections to get your foot in the door. One advantage that a higher education program has over professional training is that part of the process is teaching you how to learn – how to do research, utilize critical thinking and apply that knowledge in an effective manner.