Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated August 2010
On the job: Employment opportunities for MBAs
Maybe you are currently working at a company you like, but have seen how colleagues with graduate degrees keep moving past you up the ladder. Maybe you are just beginning a new career, and want an advantage. Or maybe you’ve already begun applying to business schools and are currently studying for the GMAT. You may not know yet where you’ll be attending business school or what type of job you’ll end up in, but what you should know is that an MBA or Executive MBA can jumpstart a new career or kick your existing career into gear with countless opportunities of extraordinary variety.
Earning an MBA can help you broaden your skills, keep pace with the market and earn an invaluable credential that will set you apart from the pack when seeking a new job or advancement in your current one. If you choose a part-time program while working, you’ll likely be able immediately to apply skills you learn at business school to your current job, which may translate into new business job opportunities at your existing company.
When it comes to job opportunities, a graduate degree in business is like no other. That’s because of the astounding breadth of roles that will benefit from a business background. The fact is an MBA opens doors to you in almost any field, preparing you for a variety of jobs.
The opportunities for a great career
So where exactly are the opportunities for business careers after graduate school? The Graduate Management Admission Council’s survey of post-grads who earned MBAs within the last one to five years is instructive. According to the 2006-07 survey of full-time MBA grads, 30% work in finance/accounting, 26% in marketing/sales, 20% in consulting, 10% in general management, 8% in operations/logistics, 4% in information technology/MIS and 2% in human resources.
The industries in which business school grads find job opportunities are as diverse as the roles business grads play. Perhaps the most traditional industry of employment after business grad school is financial services, which includes areas such as capital markets, corporate finance, sales and trading, investment managements and private equity. Accounting (whether financial, management or tax) is another natural area for MBA earners. Other popular industries today include healthcare and pharmaceuticals, technology, marketing, media, sales and real estate. But virtually every type of company in every type of industry needs employees with solid business experience.
Help with entrepreneurs and networking
What if you plan to work for yourself? Have you got the entrepreneurial spirit? Do you think you have a great idea for the next great business? An MBA is a logical degree to pursue to give you background and skills to help you start your own company. Of business school alumni surveyed by GMAC in April 2006, 6% were self-employed entrepreneurs. There’s no limit to the types of businesses that have a potential market out there. Of the entrepreneurs surveyed, 32% started businesses in the products/services industry, 29% are in consulting and 10% began businesses in technology or healthcare.
Opening the door to new opportunities in large part is about networking. That’s another way that getting an MBA can work for you. You’ll graduate with a class of colleagues who will end up in many fields in many industries all over the United States, if not the world, but your class is only the beginning. You’ll also have an instant network of all the alumni of the school you attend. Your business school is likely to have a professional career center or career services office that will help you connect with employers and alumni. At many business schools, employers recruit on campus, so you’ll be highly aware of the opportunities in the market even before it’s time to get your first business job or promotion.
Like the economy, demand for business school grads is cyclical. The early 2000s saw a difficult phase with recruitment down and less job slots to fill. The good news for students today is that beginning over the past year or two, hiring may have finally returned to normal. According to Al Cotrone, director of the Office of Career Development at the University of Michigan's Stephen M. Ross School of Business, in a recent BusinessWeek article, the demand for MBAs may be “entering a steady, solid phase that will last for a number of years.”
It’s worth mentioning that the jobs available to MBAs generally offer higher salaries and earning opportunities. GMAC found that those awarded MBAs who accepted job offers in 2006 expected to earn an average yearly base salary of $92,360. They also expected signing bonuses averaging $17,603. That’s a lot more than the starting salaries of those who’ve earned only a bachelor’s degree in business administration or management. According to a 2006 survey of the National Association of Colleges and Employers, their starting annual salary was just $40,976.
All in all, the opportunities for jobs are myriad for MBA holders. Whether you choose to work in the private sector, the public sector or in government, whether in financial services, accounting or virtually any industry or type of economy here in the United States or abroad, whether for someone else or for yourself, a graduate degree in business opens doors. Of course, getting a job in business after graduate school is about working hard and searching wisely, but for opportunities, the incredible breadth of jobs available to MBAs can’t be beat.
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