The Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree continues to rank as the most popular graduate degree in the U.S. and in the world. Graduates from top business schools reported a 13% increase in median base salaries in 2022, while hiring projections indicate a continuation of the pre-pandemic highs of above 90% hiring rate across key regions and industries.
One of the biggest areas of growth are online MBA programs which, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, were seeing an 85% increase in the number of programs. Now, for the first time ever, there are more graduate students enrolled in online MBA programs in the U.S. than in full-time, on-campus MBA programs.
But don’t worry too much for the health of on-campus programs: According to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), even though full-time MBA programs are losing ground to online and part-time programs, as a whole they continue to report increased enrollments.
The market continues to look strong, which means there’s a lot of jobs for MBA graduates out there. The bigger concern for graduates might be what kind of jobs you can get with an MBA or which careers are most suitable for MBA grads. The wide range of pathways for MBAs can be challenging to navigate, so let’s take a look at some of the more popular positions.
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||Strategic Communication|
|Economics||Management Information Systems||General Business|
|Healthcare Management||Organizational Management||Social Media Marketing|
|Healthcare Administration||Project Management||Marketing Management|
Top Jobs for MBA Graduates
Exactly what jobs do MBA graduates get? Entering into the job market, depending on specialization and experience, it’s not uncommon for graduates to pursue managerial positions across IT, finance, HR or business operations. MBA graduates can also excel as consultants, leveraging their knowledge for different companies. So, what makes these our “top” MBA jobs? It’s a combination of recent popularity, job postings, median salary amounts and rankings by aggregate sites.
Here are some of the careers for MBA grads 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.
- Average base salary – $115,250
- Examples of companies hiring for this position include Amazon, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Coinbase, Target, Starbucks, Bayer and Paramount
- Helpful MBA specializations include Operational Management, Supply Chain Management and Human Resources.
- Marketing Manager
All companies require a means to communicate directly to the public, and the marketing manager is responsible for overseeing a company’s marketing campaigns. Their main responsibilities involve developing pricing strategies, managing budgets and coordinating the marketing department in order to sell their company’s products or services. Their main goals are to attract new customers, encourage existing customers to make additional purchases and find new markets to expand into.
- Median salary – $153,440
- Examples of companies hiring for this position include Timberland, Universal Orlando Resort, Sephora, NielsenIQ, Ralph Lauren, AirBnB and L’Oréal
- Helpful MBA specializations include Marketing and Consulting.
- Sales Manager/Director
Any large company that sells goods or services needs someone who will determine how the company can best optimize sales. A sales manager will supervise all sales activities and personnel. Their ultimate goal is to ensure that sales adheres to and meets all company goals. The manager will be responsible for implementing quotas, hiring salespersons, meeting with regional managers and communicating with clients.
- Median salary – $142,390
- Examples of companies hiring for this position include Fresh Del Monte, Space Executive, Charlton Morris, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Crocs and SBH Fashion
- 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 – $131,710
- Examples of companies hiring for this position include NBCUniversal, Ringside Talent, Lacoste, Compass Group, The Walt Disney Company, The Home Depot and Pinterest
- Helpful MBA specializations include Finance, Strategy and Accounting.
- Operations Research Analyst
An operations research analyst works with every department across a company to help managers decide the best way to allocate company resources and manage their budgets. Their main responsibilities involve researching and recommending how to allocate funds, creating efficient production schedules, managing the supply chain effectively and establishing good price structures for products and services.
- Median salary – $82,360
- Examples of companies hiring for this position include Booz Allen Hamilton, Technomics, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), UPS and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- Helpful MBA specializations include Operational Management, Supply Chain Management, Strategy and Project Management.
- IT Director/Manager
An IT director or manager determines the company’s IT goals and oversees the implementation of the appropriate computer systems. They are responsible for approving research projects, implementing technological advances, ensuring that the corporate network is secure and approving the upgrading and installation of software. They also establish technical standards throughout the company to ensure that everything is operating at full efficiency.
- Median salary – $151,150
- Examples of companies hiring for this position include the Wendy’s Company, DHL Supply Chain, Eli Lilly and Company, the Hershey Company, Boston Consulting Group and the City and County of San Francisco
- Helpful MBA specializations include Technology Management, Information Systems, Strategy, Cybersecurity and Operational Management.
- Computer and Information Systems Manager
If the IT director is a 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 – $159,010
- Examples of companies hiring for this position include Google, City National Bank, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, the University of Chicago, Nike and the U.S. Federal Reserve Board
- Helpful MBA specializations include Information Systems, Cybersecurity and Operational Management.
- Human Resources Manager
An HR manager plans, directs and coordinates all of the administrative roles in a company. They are ultimately responsible for hiring new talent, from approving job descriptions and recruiting through to interviewing, training and on-boarding. They also oversee any conflicts that involve employees, including investigating complaints, deciding on disciplinary procedures and mediating disputes between employees. HR managers are also responsible for driving a company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.
- Median salary – $136,590
- Examples of companies hiring for this position include Walmart, USIC, Morgan Hunter, CarMax, Asana, Lowe’s Companies, Saks OFF 5th and Playstation
- Helpful MBA specializations include Management and Leadership Development, Organizational Management, Healthcare Management 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 – $100,530
- Examples of companies hiring for this position include Lawrence Harvey, Tarka Talent, The Berkeley Partnership, Liberty Consulting and Management, Barrington James and Moodys Northwest Consulting
- 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 – $101,340
- Examples of companies hiring for this position include American Speciality Health, Kaiser Permanente, Morgan Stephens, University of Washington Medical Center, UnitedHealthcare and Tesla
- Helpful MBA specializations include Operational Management, Human Resources and Healthcare Management.
- Investment Fund Manager
Also known as an investment portfolio manager, an investment fund manager provides financial advice related to the company’s investments in stocks, real estate and other markets. They can also provide similar investment advice for company employees. Some positions may also be responsible for advising on other important financial matters, such as mergers and acquisitions.
- Median salary – $136,724
- Examples of companies hiring for this position include Clarity Recruiting, Goldman Sachs, Selby Jennings, The National Football League, Blackstone and CrossFirst Bank
- Helpful MBA specializations include Finance, Accounting and Economics.
- Project Manager
Project managers oversee different teams in order to coordinate schedules, staffing, tasks and other details of one or more company projects. They’re responsible for managing quality control, scheduling employees, communicating with supervisors and resolving issues to ensure that projects are finished on time and within budget.
- Median salary – $98,420
- Examples of companies hiring for this position include Meta, Apple, Epic, lululemon, PayPal, Microsoft and Uber Freight
- Helpful MBA specializations include Operational Management, Organizational Management and Project Management.
* All quoted salaries and hiring companies were as of November 2022.
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.” Fortune highlighted how an entrepreneurial focus can help MBA graduates develop important soft skills such as “critical thinking, unstructured problem solving, adaptability, and flexibility” which can make or break a start-up.
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. Indeed lists the median salary at $95,653, while Payscale lists an entrepreneurship MBA at $105,000. 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.