Best-paying MBA majors
Do you want your MBA to pay off with a high salary? Then choose your MBA concentration carefully. Here’s a look at seven high-paying MBA specialties.
If you want your MBA to pay off, choose your area of concentration carefully.
What is an MBA? An MBA is a Master of Business Administration, a graduate-level degree given to a student who graduates from a business school program.
"Getting a higher degree is not always a win, so you really have to be aware of [the difference between] what is common in your field and what is desired in your field,” says Katie Bardaro, a lead analyst at PayScale.com.
In some fields, such as finance, an MBA is practically a requirement, even for entry-level jobs. In areas like technology, however, experience in the field may be more important.
Certifications can be almost as valuable, depending on the field. For example, the Chartered Financial Analyst certification—earned by passing a difficult three-part exam—can, in some ways, set you apart more than an MBA, Bardaro says.
While the average mid-career pay for all MBAs, regardless of specialty, is $99,587, according to PayScale, you can make a lot more by choosing the right concentration. Aside from your specialty, salaries depend on your level of experience and where in the country you work. For example, a product development manager salary in Columbus, Ohio, is 5% higher than the national median; an IT director salary in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is 6% higher than the national median; and a marketing manager salary in Boston is 12% higher than the national median.
Using PayScale data, Monster identified the seven common, high-paying MBA specializations ranked by graduates’ typical mid-career earnings. See which MBA concentrations pay the best as well as the top business jobs associated with each MBA specialty
What you need to know: What sets this MBA specialization apart from the rest—and could be the reason why this is the top-paying concentration on our list—is because it requires a mastery of business theory, teaching students how to think “big picture” about management decisions that influence a company’s success.
What you’d make: $127,000 per year
Common jobs and salaries for MBAs with a strategy concentration:
- Management consultant: $123,000 per year
- Senior product manager: $141,000 per year
- Finance manager: $120,000 per year
What you need to know: While management jobs in the technology sector don't necessarily require an MBA, this concentration can help you become a better leader as you move up the career ladder.
"Usually people who move into technology management positions started off as developers, software engineers [or] software architects, and move into [management] roles because they have a better understanding of the technology," Bardaro says.
What you'd make: $113,000 per year
Common jobs and salaries for MBAs with a technology management concentration:
- Information technology (IT) director: $147,000 per year
- Vice president of IT: $177,000 per year
- Senior project manager, IT: $130,000 per year
What you need to know: Have a great idea, but don’t know what to do with it? An entrepreneurship MBA concentration can help you develop the skills, resources, and connections you need to build a business successfully.
What you’d make: $106,000 per year
Common jobs and salaries for MBAs with an entrepreneurship concentration:
- Senior product manager: $135,000 per year
- Product manager, software: $110,000 per year
- Management consultant: $126,000 per year
What you need to know: Finance is known as an MBA-heavy field, even at the junior level. Financial analysts and portfolio managers often either have an MBA or are working on one.
What you'd make: $103,000 per year
Common jobs and salaries for MBAs with a finance concentration:
- Finance manager: $112,000 per year
- Chief financial officer: $183,000 per year
- Senior financial analyst: $86,300 per year
What you need to know: This MBA concentration takes a generalized approach to give students well-rounded business knowledge that’s required to analyze business trends, understand a company’s finances, and manage a team of workers.
What you’d make: $99,900 per year
Common jobs and salaries for MBAs with a general business concentration:
- Business development director: $156,000 per year
- Director of engineering: $167,000 per year
- Operations manager: $84,000 per year
What you need to know: This concentration offers in-depth knowledge of economics—even outside of the traditional business world—by teaching students how to put economic theory into practice.
What you’d make: $97,400 per year
Common jobs and salaries for MBAs with an economics concentration:
- Finance director: 120,000 per year
- Senior financial analyst: $85,000 per year
- Finance manager: $120,000 per year
What you need to know: While marketing is not an area that requires an MBA for low-level jobs, it has become very popular for workers to get MBAs in this field, especially at the higher job levels and even in careers outside of marketing. That’s because an MBA in marketing teaches skills in mathematics, communications, analytics, and management that can be applied across industries.
What you'd make: $95,500 per year
Common jobs and salaries for MBAs who specialize in marketing:
- Vice president, marketing: $183,000 per year
- Marketing director: $121,000 per year
- Marketing manager: $78,900 per year
Score a top MBA job
If you're angling for a big paycheck, knowing which industries have the highest demand for new hires can help narrow your job search. Then, it's time to get in front of hiring managers. Need some help grabbing their attention? Join Monster today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the different types of MBA jobs that interest you. Every day, recruiters search Monster looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on the time you'd spend combing through ads. The sooner you get started, the sooner you'll be earning what your skills demand.
Source: All salary data and pay comparisons provided by online salary database PayScale.com. Median mid-career pay is defined as the national median (50th percentile) annual total cash compensation at 10 or more years of experience for MBA graduates. Total cash compensation includes base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits or value of other noncash benefits (e.g., health insurance).