MBA Salaries: What You'll Earn

Everything you need to know about MBA degrees and salary expectations is right here.

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By Sarah Stevenson

To some extent the relationship between MBA education and salary is subject to the outside pressures of the economy; with all the ups and downs in the job market, it should come as very little surprise that salary offers aren't as promising as they've been in the past, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Even for those with an MBA degree, salary offers haven't shown much change over previous years. The good news is, there are a number of factors that affect MBA degree salary earnings outside of the fluctuations of the market.

What influences my salary?

  • Obviously, your level of experience makes a big difference to the earnings you'll receive.
  • Geographic location is also a consideration, since the cost of living varies depending on the city and state of employment.
  • Another major factor is the field or industry in which you choose to pursue an MBA. Salary offers vary widely between the government or non-profit sector and private sector industries, for instance.
  • Also, your job function—accounting, human resources, sales—can affect your earnings, with those involved in management commanding top dollar.

What is my salary potential by career field?

Whether you're overseeing a set of projects, a group of employees, or the company payroll, the type of management function that your job encompasses also has an effect on your salary.

Job FunctionOccupations IncludeMedian Annual Salary*
Sales Managers Product management, sales management, communications $110,660
Consulting / Management Analyst Strategy, business development, product management $80,880
General Management Entrepreneurial  $102,750
Accounting Accounting, auditing $65,940
Human Resources Management Staffing, training, compensation/benefits $102,780
IT/Management Information Systems Systems analysis, telecommunications, e-commerce $127,640

Sources:  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition; Sales Managers; Management Analysts; Top Executives; Accountants and Auditors; Human Resources Managers; Computer and Information Systems Managers.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

What are some of the additional benefits of earning an MBA?

If you hold an MBA degree, salary isn't the only worthwhile compensation that jobs provide. Most employers also grant benefits above and beyond annual earnings. Even if you're just starting out as an MBA graduate, you might receive a signing bonus as well as a benefits package. Besides those perks, the most common additional forms of compensation for MBA holders in are performance-based bonuses, stock options or purchase plan, profit sharing and tuition reimbursement.

The outlook for MBA degree salary may change from year to year, but an advanced degree is always a good investment for your future career, especially if you're looking to boost your job prospects beyond what you can achieve with an undergraduate degree.

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