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MBAs Can Earn Up To $375K A Year In Finance Jobs

MBA Jobs in finance can net you almost $400,000 per year - excluding bonuses. Where you study is becoming less important - as this Kellogg MBA who earns $375,000 in private equity knows.

Mon Dec 9 2013

If there was ever any doubt as to whether business school is worth the tuition, an MBA starting salary of near $400,000 for a finance role surely settles the debate. The gob-smacking salary went to a 2013 Kellogg graduate who went to work in private equity in Boston. 

His salary of $375,000 per year for an investment management job is three times the $110,000 median for other classmates going into the same industry.

The figures, released last week in an employment report by Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, show that although finance can be the highest-earning career path, just 19 per cent of the class went into the function at all. And only 3 per cent went into investment management. The role of finance as the dominant MBA Job may be declining. 

Even more surprisingly, though, is the fact that Kellogg's highest salary topped that of other leading US-based business schools. The unnamed Kellogg MBA beat Wharton's highest of $350,000; Columbia's $310,000; Chicago Booth's $250,000 and Harvard's $177,500.

The report suggests that MBA graduates can quadruple the $80,000 spent on a one-year MBA program at Kellogg. Even at top-ranking US business schools, such as Wharton, which costs about $96,000 for a year's tuition, MBAs will make a quick return on their money.

MBA programs are a huge investment and often require you to take significant time out of work. But even the $110,000 median salary for MBAs from Kellogg going into finance means that graduates can recoup their losses quickly.

The new figures also suggest that when it comes to salary in the MBA Jobs world, where you study is becoming less important.

Although Harvard is consistently ranked as the #1 full-time MBA program in the world, Kellogg, considered by the Financial Times as the 13th best MBA program, is pushing out higher salaries.

Kellogg, comparatively low in the rankings when compared to top schools such as HBS, equaled its US rivals in terms of base salary. The $120,000 median was equal to that of Harvard, MIT Sloan, UC-Berkeley and Chicago Booth. Only Stanford and Wharton achieved higher; albeit by a mere $5,000. 

The report also shows that work experience pre-MBA can be more important than the brand of b-school on your resume. The Kellogg MBA that earned $375,000 had nine years work experience before enrolling at Northwestern. Many MBAs will be encouraged to attend the best MBA program their GMAT score will permit.

But what is evident from this report is that, in the US at least, top MBA Rankings don't necessarily translate to top earnings.

Other MBAs from the 2013 cohort received similarly lucrative pay packets. A private equity firm gave a graduate a $350,000 base salary, an MBA that went into the energy industry earned $225,000 and another earned over $200,000 for a role in transportation services.

Kellogg MBAs who went into consulting, a traditionally strong function, also landed $175,000 base salaries - excluding signing-on and performance bonuses. Those who entered venture capital had similar salary success.

Although Kellogg has always done very well in terms of consulting employment, the report from Kellogg also suggests that those seeking careers in management consulting may do just as well as those at top-five schools. 

McKinsey & Company hired a staggering 46 Kellogg graduates this year. Another top firm, Boston consulting Group, hired 34, while Deloitte hired 34 and Accenture 13. Overall, eight of the 13 largest hirers were consulting firms, seeing the largest chunk (38 per cent) of MBAs going into the industry.

In total, 84 per cent of Kellogg graduates had job offers by graduation and almost 95 per cent had offers three months afterwards. While this report does well to highlight how much an MBA program can boost your salary, what is more significant is that the highest salaries can go to those outside of top-ranking schools. Is the name of your b-school now less important?