As the economy rebounds from the depths of a recession that sent pink slips to many business executives and management types, the outlook for MBA jobs is improving steadily. Graduates of MBA programs will face stiffer competition in years past, as those who were laid off reenter the workforce and tout their added years of experience over their fresher-faced counterparts. However, should the business economy and climate continue to recover at a steady rate, the competition should lessen and MBA graduates will find themselves in line for solid career options and growth over the long term.
The MBA itself is a broad degree that prepares candidates for a wide variety of positions, but most people seeking MBA jobs fall into a few basic categories and career paths.
Human Resources Executive
Typically, the MBA graduate with an interest in human resources will find themselves in a management or executive position that oversees a company’s entire human resources department. They’re responsible for hiring and training new employees, as well as mediating disputes and other problems between the company’s existing staff. More than 900,000 Americans work the executive level in human resources, with job growth of 22 percent projected through the end of the decade.
Along with this strong job growth is an exceptionally strong salary, with entry-level human resource managers and executives demanding a starting salary of $125,000 per year. The average salary of the profession is just over $212,000 annually in the United States, and the highest-earning human resources executives take home $320,000 per year.
The job of a business consultant is often quite broad, as it’s their job to work with new, growing, or troubled companies in order to guide them toward success and profitability. Within that scope, they’ll do whatever is necessary to keep the business afloat and coach it to success. As the economy rebounds, consulting is expected to be one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States — it is projected to expand by 83 percent between 2008 and 2018 alone.
Because the profession is in such high demand by businesses of all sizes, it also demands a respectable starting salary of $105,000. Its professionals earn an average of $141,000 nationwide and the highest-paid business consultants in America take home an annual salary of nearly $190,000.
Largely responsible for overseeing a company’s financial data and ensuring that it has a long-term strategy for profitability, finance managers are surprisingly not one of the faster-growing occupations in the business world. That’s because many of these professionals were laid off during the recent recession and are only new getting back into the job market. Combined with competition from new MBA graduates, the competition for these jobs is extraordinarily stiff. On top of this fact, the profession is expected to grow by only three percent through the end of the decade, hardly keeping up with the number of people qualified to fill open positions.
That being said, the job of a finance manager pays quite well; those lucky enough to land a job in this field will start at around $129,000 annually in the United States. The average earnings of a finance manager come in at $201,000 per year, and the highest earners in this competitive field earn an annual salary of just under $300,000 per year.
Business Managers and Executives
Getting an MBA largely means seeking a job in business management — it’s the very reason most people choose to continue their education through the graduate level. The rewards for landing a job in this elusive field are quite rich: the best salaries in the profession, for one thing. But the level of job security is also quite high in the United States, so long as the business itself doesn’t fall victim to economic forces. The United States is home to 2.1 million business managers and executives, and the occupation is expected to grow slower than the national average — just one percent growth through the end of the decade.
It’s certainly a hard field to break into, but those who are successful can expect a starting salary of $62,000 for smaller businesses and more than $140,000 when working for a larger business. The maximum salaries for managers and executives are practically limitless in the United States, although most people in this field of work hit a ceiling around $1 million. Still, the highest class of chief executives has been known to demand salaries of tens of millions dollars annually.
In the most competitive business fields — such as business and financial management — employees are often enticed to select a job and stay with one employer for a long period of time through the use of signing bonuses. These bonuses require signing extensive contracts that include non-compete clauses and bind an employee to one job for a considerable length of time.
These contracts typically last between one and five years, but come with a signing bonus that can range from $1,000 to more than $20,000. As a one-time bonus, these are not added into average or starting salaries. However, they’re perhaps most common in the business profession and they’re quite lucrative for most qualified candidates.