Fields and Factors That Increase Salary If You Earn an MBA

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated July 25, 2022 | Published May 3, 2021

Updated July 25, 2022

Published May 3, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many professionals pursue an MBA as a way to earn a potential salary increase. The effectiveness of this strategy can vary based on location, industry and other factors. If you’re considering an MBA as a way to increase your earnings, it might be helpful to learn more about these factors and how they affect you. 

In this article, we explore whether you can earn a salary increase with an MBA and explore a range of factors that might affect your choice. 

Related: How To Get an MBA: Step-by-Step Guide

What is an MBA?

An MBA, short for Master of Business Administration, is a graduate degree focused on teaching students business principles and leadership skills. This program helps prepare individuals to take on managerial roles in their careers. Students choose an area of focus, such as accounting or human resources, for their MBA studies. Typically, an MBA takes two years to complete online, in person or through a combination of the two formats.

Related: Q&A: Master's vs. MBA

Will Your Salary Increase with an MBA? 

Earning an MBA can lead to career advancements, which can result in an increased salary of of almost double what you were making prior to the program, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) While an MBA program typically costs between $50,000 and $100,000, students tend to earn a higher salary from it.

Related: Is an MBA Worth It?

Industries where MBAs earn increased salaries

One contributing factor to your salary amount is the area of study you choose for your MBA. Studying a field with more specializations, such as real estate or bioscience, may mean a higher salary since there are fewer people with that expertise. Additionally, industries that are in demand may provide higher salaries for employees with an MBA.

The following industries often produce the highest salaries for candidates who earn an MBA:

Consulting and strategy

The consulting and strategy field is one of the highest-paying industries for MBA program graduates. Consultants provide professional advice in their area of expertise to help businesses find out what they are doing well and where they can improve. Earning an MBA in consulting can help you advance in your career to positions such as a consulting manager or senior consultant.

Related: Top 15 Highest Paying Consulting Jobs

Technology management

Technology management is an in-demand field due to the deployment of artificial intelligence. The BLS anticipates the field to grow 11% by 2030. When attending a graduate program in technology management, you'll learn applicable skills, like how to manage data, which can make you more marketable to future employers. An MBA in technology may lead to a role as a:

  • Software project manager

  • Information technology manager

  • Database administrator

Related: Recruitment Tips for MBA Graduates

Entrepreneurship

Another form of business MBA students can pursue is entrepreneurship. These programs teach students how to launch a business. Some high-paying entrepreneurship positions include a senior product manager and a management consultant.

Related: FAQ: How Much Does an Executive MBA Graduate Make?

Financial services and economics

Those interested in working with money may choose to focus their studies on financial services or economics. The financial industry includes a variety of businesses that manage money, such as banks, credit card companies and other financial services firms. Because today's roles in financial services are becoming more specialized due to technological advancements, those earning an MBA in the industry can develop specific skills for a role they are interested in. The BLS estimates a 5% increase in financial occupations between 2019 and 2029.

Related: How To Find a Company That Will Pay for Your MBA

General business

General business is another high-paying MBA concentration with a variety of job opportunities. This industry focuses on functions including:

  • Business planning

  • Employee motivation

  • Investment strategies

  • Cash flow management

  • Innovative marketing

Some top-paying business roles include a business development director, operations manager and director of engineering. The BLS reports that general business roles will increase 5% by 2030.

Related: Should I Get an MBA in 2022? When It's Worth the Effort

Marketing

The marketing industry, which promotes the sales of a company's products or services, is another lucrative MBA field to study. The BLS lists marketing managers in the top 20 highest-paying occupations, with an average salary over $140,000. Other top-earning marketing roles include vice presidents and marketing directors.

Related: What Can You Do With No Experience and an MBA?

Salary increases with an MBA by location 

Certain locations offer higher salaries for those with an MBA. These tend to be large metropolitan areas due to their expansive business communities and diverse opportunities. Here are some of the top-paying cities for those with an MBA according to the University of the People:

  • New York: Salaries range between $56,332 and $141,722

  • Chicago: Salaries range between $53,722 and $126,980

  • Atlanta: Salaries range between $50,920 and $118,139

  • Houston: Salaries range between $52,881 and $120,018

  • Boston: Salaries range between $59,810 and $133,549

Related: MBA vs. Executive MBA: Which One Is Right for You?

Other factors that affect salary increases with an MBA 

Deciding to pursue an MBA may be a rewarding decision based on the professional and economic advantages it offers. Some other factors contributing to a salary increase after earning an MBA include:

  • Work experience: One factor affecting your overall income is your amount of relevant work experience. Those who continue working while earning their MBA may advance at their current company upon graduation.

  • Connections: Having the right professional network can help you find a job. You can make connections at career events, such as job fairs and conferences, or through internship programs.

  • Business school reputation: Certain business schools have higher reputations than others and can lead to finding a career with a higher salary due to name recognition. Finding a reputable, accredited college or university can be something to consider when looking to start your MBA program.

  • Demand for your skills: Those with unique skills, such as digital technology proficiency, may earn extra compensation since they bring a bonus to the company. MBA students learn helpful general business skills, like conflict resolution and leadership, which are valuable across industries.


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