Best Jobs for MBA Graduates
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A master of business administration (MBA) degree is one of the most popular graduate degrees in the United States.
An MBA covers advanced coursework in business, marketing, and finance. Students can also pursue specializations — like healthcare, marketing, or information technology (IT) — to develop skills applicable to specific industries.
MBAs propel job-seekers to the top of the candidate pool and help established professionals find opportunities to advance, demonstrating to employers that they have the analytical and communication skills necessary to thrive as a director, senior administrator, or chief officer. In short, earning an MBA helps graduates enter managerial and leadership roles across the workforce.
This page explores some jobs commonly held by MBA graduates. You can also learn more about the degrees that best fit these positions.
We ranked the best MBA jobs for graduates, including some of the best paying jobs in finance, using salary data from PayScale.
Medical directors oversee the daily operations of hospitals, outpatient facilities, and comparable healthcare institutions and organizations. They lead medical staff, oversee budgets, and ensure overall quality of care, taking part in hiring decisions, training programs, and personnel recruitment.
Medical directors have often earned degrees in healthcare-related disciplines with additional business coursework. Successful medical directors demonstrate strong communication skills, integrity, attention to detail, and interpersonal abilities.
Chief marketing directors (CMOs) design and implement an organization's creative vision. CMOs work with advertising, marketing, and sales staff to promote goods, services, and brands. They analyze consumer data to determine consumer trends and assess competition and potential opportunities in the marketplace.
Strong communication and critical thinking skills help CMOs engage with and inspire their employees, clients, and the public. CMOs need extensive marketing experience and training.
- Median BLS Salary (2020): $173,900
- Recommended MBA specialization: MBA in marketing management, social media marketing, international marketing
Chief technology officers (CTO) supervise technology development and operations within an organization. They develop strategies to optimize existing technology policies and practices while finding new ways to remain competitive and current in tech-related arenas.
CTOs work with managers and information technology staff, monitor software and hardware updates and maintenance, and ensure data privacy and security. CTOs often have experience working as IT professionals with backgrounds in computer science and business.
- Median BLS Salary (2020): $161,000
- Recommended MBA specialization: MBA in information technology, information security, management information systems
As the top decision-makers within a corporation or organization, chief executive officers (CEOs) need strong communication, leadership, and critical thinking skills. CEOs guide fellow executives, managers, and staff in pursuit of organizational missions and represent the company to the public, its stakeholders, and its board of directors.
The specific duties of a CEO vary by organization and industry, but potential responsibilities include oversight of budgets, policy setting, human resources, and strategic planning. CEOs should understand all aspects of business operations and their organization's practices and processes.
- Median BLS Salary (2020): $156,000
- Recommended MBA specialization: Executive MBA, MBA in organizational leadership, strategic management
Often the second-highest executive within an organization, the chief operation officer (COO) oversees daily operations as they relate to managers and employees. COOs carry out the overall operational vision of a company or organization, assessing productivity and revenue as it relates to efficiency and efficacy.
COOs need experience with supply chains, logistics, resource allocation, and performance assessment. They draw upon both practical experience and educational training to carry out their duties.
- Median BLS Salary (2020): $143,500
- Recommended MBA specialization: MBA in organizational management, operations management, logistics
Chief financial officers (CFOs) supervise the fiscal operations and activities of an organization or company. To be successful, they must thoroughly understand accounting, finance, and economics and understand how to implement financial policies and practices that benefit the overall fiscal viability of the organization.
CFOs work with managers in individual departments -- like purchasing, pricing, and accounts payable or receivable -- to gather financial data, analyze it, and present it to fellow executives and company stakeholders. A bachelor's degree in accounting or finance, ample experience in the field, and an MBA are often prerequisites for CFO roles.
Chief administrative officers (CAOs) lead administrative staff within a company or organization. CAOs need strong communication skills and previous supervisory experience, and they must work well with others. They supervise hiring, training, and personnel issues, often coordinating with human resource managers to ensure they adhere to applicable regulations and guidelines.
CAOs may also oversee accounting staff, which requires extensive knowledge of tax codes and laws, financial reporting guidelines, and generally accepted accounting principles.
- Median BLS Salary (2020): $120,500
- Recommended MBA specialization: MBA in general management, organizational management, strategic management
A sales director works with sales teams to optimize the sales of goods and services, supervising sales activities, personnel, and company goals. Sales managers implement quotas, take part in creative marketing campaigns, and hire salespersons as needed. They may also travel to meet with regional sales managers, communicate with clients, and take part in sales training programs.
Sales directors report on overall sales projections and outcomes -- a duty that requires analytical and communication skills. Successful sales directors have undergraduate or graduate degrees in business, plus several years of experience as sales professionals.
- Median BLS Salary (2020): $100,500
- Recommended MBA specialization: MBA in general business, economics, supply chain management, logistics
Investment bankers work for financial institutions, providing guidance for corporations, organizations, and government agencies about how best to raise capital. Investment bankers look at clients' financial holdings, assess risk and reward, analyze financial data, explain complex financial practices, and make recommendations for how organizations can meet their financial goals.
Investment bankers also build financial models, create financial plans, and perform valuation assessments, taking part in all aspects of transactions related to financial and investment decisions. An undergraduate degree in finance or business is a minimum career requirement, but most investment bankers hold an MBA.
- Median BLS Salary (2020): $100,500
- Recommended MBA specialization: MBA in accounting, finance, economics, corporate finance, risk management
Tasked with overseeing the financial viability of a corporation or organization, financial managers create financial plans, reports, and forecasts. They supervise financial analysts and comparable staff, offer guidance to fellow managers and executives, and ensure financial activities are conducted in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
Finance managers analyze trends, assess risk and reward potential, and monitor revenue flow. Trained in quantitative analysis and skilled in financial reporting applications and tools, financial managers hold bachelor's degrees in accounting, finance, and related fields. Many financial managers are certified public accountants or have an MBA.
- Median BLS Salary (2020): $91,500
- Recommended MBA specialization: MBA in finance, economics, accounting, risk management
Human resources directors -- also called human resources managers -- work with managers and executives within an organization to hire, train, coach, and mentor employees while overseeing recruitment of and compensation for both new and current workers. This includes overseeing benefit programs, budgets, and staff operations, mitigating complaints, and addressing disciplinary issues as they arise. Human resource directors are excellent communicators and leaders.
An undergraduate degree in human resources, management, or a related field is the minimum career requirement for human resources directors, but MBA-holders often have a professional advantage.
A compensation and benefits manager is an essential worker within an organization's human resource department, serving as the expert on payroll, benefits, and retirement. These managers facilitate enrollment in medical, retirement, and investment plans for employees, advising them about their options, assisting with paperwork, and explaining complicated rules and packages.
Compensation and benefits managers also usually decide which programs a company will offer, monitor regulatory and legal compliance issues, and ensure that offered policies adhere to labor laws. Professional experience and an educational background in business, human resources, or a related field prepare individuals for roles as compensation and benefits managers.
Marketing directors design, develop, and implement marketing strategies for companies. They work with artists and designers to create marketing campaigns that match demand for specific goods and services. They also assess consumer data, identify competitors, and implement pricing strategies to maximize sales, coordinating budgets, timelines, and content. Marketing managers also address challenges that arise and modify campaigns as necessary.
Marketing directors need experience working in advertising, sales, and similar entry-level roles. Marketing directors typically have a bachelor's degree in business or marketing, and they can benefit from a graduate degree in marketing or a related field.
- Median BLS Salary (2020): $88,000
- Recommended MBA specialization: MBA in marketing, marketing management, international marketing
Public relations directors manage the external image of their employer or clients. They create materials to enhance social engagement, boost public imaging, and help engage with audiences and consumers. Public relations directors may write and distribute press releases, develop advertising and promotional campaigns, and serve as spokespersons.
In some industries, public relation directors also carry out fundraising activities, which involves organizing events, reaching out to donors, and soliciting funds as part of ongoing or seasonal campaigns. They delegate tasks to staff and interact with the media, which requires good communication and interpersonal skills. Experience in the field and a degree in communication, marketing, or media relations is the best way to ensure success as a public relations director.
- Median BLS Salary (2020): $86,500
- Recommended MBA specialization: MBA in strategic communication; communication and media management; entertainment, media, and sports management; entertainment, media, and technology
Portfolio managers may work with individuals, groups, or organizations. They identify client's financial needs and help them direct investments to reach short- and long-term financial goals. Portfolio managers also explore investment options to alleviate tax burdens and build capital. Portfolio managers often work with multiple investments, developing and implementing an overall financial strategy to minimize risk and optimize growth.
Portfolio managers regularly communicate with clients, providing guidance on complex investment options and practices. They must also prepare and submit reports on investment activities and performance, offering insight into economic trends. Undergraduate and graduate degrees in finance, accounting, or business qualify graduates for portfolio manager roles, though many portfolio managers also hold professional certification.
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Frequently Asked Questions
An MBA is a general business administration degree offered at the graduate level. Core coursework within an MBA emphasizes foundational business knowledge and skills in management, accounting, and marketing. Individuals with an undergraduate degree in a field other than business may pursue an MBA to build essential business competencies. Business professionals with an educational and professional background in the field often pursue an MBA to increase their marketability and earning potential.
What field is best varies, depending on your personal and professional goals. MBAs can benefit individuals working in business, healthcare, IT, and accounting. The comprehensive nature of an MBA also allows students to pursue careers in additional fields, like education, supply chain management, and human resources.
MBA careers are plentiful in the current economic climate, according to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A general MBA is the most flexible option, honing skills applicable to a variety of business careers, while specializing in a field like IT or media management can mean a more competitive resume in those specific fields. You can also earn an executive MBA, which is designed to build the skills needed in executive roles.
MBAs are not necessary for all business careers, although they can be a leg up during the application process. Earning an MBA prepares you to for the duties and obligations of being an organizational leader. Employers prefer well-trained business professionals, and earning an MBA your potential for growth within an organization.
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