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US MBA Grads Can Earn Six-Figure Salaries In These Industries

MBA students from US business schools can gain top salaries in industries including consulting and finance after graduation

Wed May 29 2024

For MBA graduates, securing a high-paying job is often a top priority. Luckily, the investment in an advanced business degree can open doors to lucrative career paths across various industries. 

From consulting and finance to tech and healthcare, MBAs are finding roles that not only offer substantial salaries but also provide significant opportunities for career growth and development. 

As the job market evolves, understanding the most promising sectors for MBA graduates can help guide career decisions and maximize the return on investment in business education. 

While organizations’ compensation plans have been contending with looming recession and inflation, those with an MBA are still in a positive position. 

According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council’s (GMAC) Corporate Recruiters Survey, MBAs, especially in the US, have been less affected by the looming recession and the estimated 2023 median salary for US MBAs increased compared to 2022 projections, going from $115k to $125k.

Here we explore six industries where MBA holders can achieve six-figure salaries and build rewarding careers.

1. Consulting Careers

Consulting remains a highly attractive field for MBA graduates due to its lucrative salaries, and its generalist appeal.

In 2023, top consulting firms like McKinsey, BCG, and Bain offered MBA graduates starting salaries approaching $200,000. While the most recent MBA grads did not see the $15k salary spike enjoyed in 2022, the starting salaries remained level with BCG offering MBA graduates an average salary of $190k and Bain and McKinsey offering $192k.

MBA graduates see rapid salary growth in consulting, with first-year average base pay at $190,000, escalating to $220,000-$240,000 by the second or third year. Senior roles, such as project leader or junior and senior partner—those four to 10 years out of an MBA—command salaries from $275,000 to $700,000, according to the ManagementConsulted 2024 report.

These figures exclude substantial signing and performance bonuses, which can add up to $30,000 to the overall compensation package.

Eye-wateringly high salaries were enjoyed by MBA alums once more in 2023, with graduates from the Financial Times’ best MBA in the world, the Wharton School, receiving a median base salary of $190k in consulting, while Stanford Graduate School of Business grads secured $192k. 

2. Finance Careers

Finance remains a popular and profitable career choice for MBA graduates. It is the second most popular career choice for Gen Z candidates—born between 1997 and 2012—and third for Millennials—born between 1981 and 1997—according to the GMAC Prospective Students survey

Roles such as hedge fund manager, financial analyst, and investment banker often start with salaries exceeding $100,000.

Graduates from top schools such as NYU Stern and Columbia  reported median salaries in these roles of up to $175,000 with a top bracket earning $225,000.

Some of the highest, six-figure salary earners are those who go into private equity. For example, in 2023, Harvard Business School MBA students earned $185,000 median base salaries, $30,000 in signing bonuses and a whopping $181,250 in performance bonuses. That means HBS grads can make nearly $400,000 in their first year out of school.

Careers in venture capital and asset management also promise high earnings, with MBA graduates in these fields often seeing six-figure salaries.

3. Technology Careers

Despite recent layoffs, the tech industry continues to offer appealing opportunities for MBA graduates. In fact, after consulting it is the second most popular career for millennial prospective students.  

Roles in strategy and innovation, product management, and business development are particularly sought after. Graduates from the University of Washington Foster who go into technology reported median base salaries of $152,000, those from UC Berkeley Haas $157,100, and Stanford $177,500.

In tech, salaries for MBA graduates can surpass those of peers who do not hold advanced degrees. For instance, innovation strategists earn around $120,000, business development managers about $132,000, and product managers over $270,000.

4. Entertainment, Media, and Sports Careers

While consulting, finance, and technology are more stereotypically associated with MBAs and high salaries, graduates can use the advanced degree to go down an array of high paying career paths. 

MBA graduates from NYU Stern who enter the entertainment, media, and sports sectors can expect six-figure salaries. 

Graduates have been employed by companies such as, NBCUniversal, Hulu, Focus Features, and the Walt Disney Company, and graduates from the 2023 MBA class employed in entertainment, media, and sports earned a median salary of $140,000.

Graduates from UCLA Anderson and USC Marshall, located near Hollywood, earned average base salaries of around $130,000 in these industries.

5. Healthcare Careers

Healthcare is another field offering six-figure salaries for MBA graduates. 

In 2023, graduates from the Financial Times’ best MBA in the world, Wharton, earned a median salary of $157,500 in healthcare roles. 

University of Michigan Ross graduates reported a base salary range of $105,000-$190,000 with an average of almost $140,000, while 2023 Stanford GSB MBA graduates entering healthcare roles earned a median of $170,000.