An MBA is one of the most versatile graduate degrees available to professionals today, opening the door to lucrative and rewarding careers across a variety of industries. Even choosing a concentration does not narrow your career options, as the MBA core includes foundational work in finance, human resources, marketing, and accounting.
At Manhattan Admissions, we emphasize getting in touch with your MBA career services office as soon as possible, because recruiting begins almost as soon as your very first class. It is important to stand out early, as human resources will be focusing on attracting the best and brightest from each MBA program as soon as the first set of grades become available.
To narrow down your research areas and give you some ideas for career paths, we’ve compiled a list of five popular jobs for MBA graduates.
- Investment Banking/Financial Planning
Investment banking is a highly competitive, highly lucrative field that is best for ambitious professionals who want to quickly climb the corporate ladder. MBA graduates who go into investment banking will have to use all of the skills that business schools teach, such as finance, accounting, and corporate strategy.
Venture capital is a closely related field to investment banking, in which MBA graduates analyze early-stage companies from start-ups to mid-stage companies that are less than three years away from an initial public offering. Venture capital is also highly competitive since only a small percentage of companies deliver a positive return on investment.
Financial planning is another career path that many MBA graduates pursue. Financial planners are responsible for ensuring the financial future of their clients in uncertain market conditions. Successful financial planners must manage earnings, advise on investments, and be up-to-date on the latest tax laws.
Natural problem-solvers may want to pursue a career as either a Financial Analyst or a Management Analyst. Financial analysts are responsible for reviewing a certain portfolio of stocks. They usually specialize in a particular industry, and they will be expected to research market trends to try and forecast the future. The salary range for financial analysts is $90,000-$110,000.
Management Analysts are more hands-on troubleshooters who are tasked with investigating a business and its practices, interviewing key employees, and advising management as to how the business can be run more efficiently. They will also be expected to understand logistics and organizational structure to streamline inefficient processes. The salary range for management analysts is $100,000-$120,000.
Consulting is one of the most prestigious and well-compensated careers available to MBA graduates. We’ve also seen studies that show that even in a down economy, consultants are actually more in demand as companies seek ways to increase profits or protect against weakening demand. Consultants do similar work as management analysts, studying a corporation and finding ways to eliminate redundancies within a company’s structure and operations. Consultant salaries begin at $90,000 and open many doors for top-level management positions.
- Brand Manager
A Brand Manager with an MBA is in a particularly strong position, as they combine creativity with a strong foundation in finance and analytics. Brand Managers will track customer demographics and emerging trends as they find the best ways to connect their company with consumers. Marketing professionals in brand management will also be expected to utilize cutting edge Customer Relationship Management systems, interface with creative teams, and lead public relations efforts to strengthen their brand identity and reputation.
Entrepreneurs used to be thought of as lone wolf inventor types who patent a new invention and build a company around it. Today, entrepreneurs are increasingly pursuing MBA’s as they look to build a foundation across business disciplines so they can give themselves the best chance at success. Many graduate programs have responded to this trend, building strong entrepreneurship divisions and inviting students to compete in business plan competitions. If entrepreneurship is your end game, look into which of the top MBA programs have dedicated entrepreneurship centers to support their graduates.
- Certified Public Accountant
A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with an MBA is one of the most potent combinations of qualifications anyone can attain. With both degrees, you will be well-suited for a controller position in which you will be expected to have a profound understanding of your company’s balance sheet while keeping a holistic view of the company and its positioning. Chief financial officers can make over $120,000 a year while controller/finance directors often make over $100,000 per year.
The most popular and competitive industries in 2014 are health care, marketing, and accounting. While an MBA will set you up for success in any of those fields, you may also want to explore careers in the technology and energy sectors. Over 80% of companies in those sectors have hired MBA graduates in the past two years, so pursuing non-traditional industries may give you a leg up on the competition as well. Above all, spend a lot of time researching so that you know all of your options.