When you make the decision to continue your higher education beyond an undergraduate degree, you likely think about the payoff: will the education, such as a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA), help you secure a well-paying job? Will you be able to quickly pay off your graduate loan?
If you’re wondering, “what can I do with an MBA,” you’re not alone. While there are many different jobs for MBA graduates, the important thing is identifying which you’re interested in so you know you’ve got a promising career ahead of you on the other side of that MBA program.
What the MBA Prepares You For
Because an MBA exposes you to a variety of business aspects, from finance to marketing to economics, it can help you qualify for a wide range of business-related MBA careers. Because you aren’t focused in a single niche, you can apply the leadership, accounting, and communication skills you have learned in your MBA program to your future career, no matter what industry it’s in.
Some prestigious MBA programs (that also come with a hefty price tag) may have an alumni network that can help you find a good job right after graduation. But even if you’ve opted for a more affordable MBA program, the simple fact of you possessing an MBA may be appealing to employers and could help you command a higher salary than you could have earned with just an undergraduate degree.
The Current Job Market
Because of the global impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the job market as a whole, jobs for MBA graduates have seen a decline over the past year . Recent graduates seeking MBA jobs are competing with applicants who have some job experience, and employers may be reluctant to hire fresh grads when they can get more for their money in more qualified candidates.
Certain industries, like hospitality , have taken a nosedive in terms of hiring MBAs. Not surprisingly, given the increased reliance on tools to help us work remotely, the technology industry has actually increased the number of jobs for MBA grads in the past year.
The Best Jobs for MBA Grads
This leads us back to that question: “what jobs can I get with an MBA?”
The good news is, no matter what the economic climate, there are still many jobs for MBA graduates, no matter what your skill set.
Related: What Does Life Post MBA Look Like?
Jobs in Finance
If you aced your finance, statistics, and accounting courses, your future may lie in finance. For someone with an MBA, you’ve got several possibilities.
A financial advisor provides financial planning and advice for clients, and may specialize in certain niches, like estate planning or high net worth clients. Financial advisors may continue to pursue additional certifications or licenses. The average salary for financial advisors is approximately $59,000, according to Payscale.
A financial analyst is attuned to the stock market and may make forecasts about the behavior or stocks and bonds for clients. The average starting salary for a financial analyst is around $61,000.
If you enjoy managing a business’ finances, becoming an accountant may be a good fit. You may be in charge of accounts receivable and payable, as well as filing taxes for a business. The median salary for an account is around $71,550.
If you have a little technical skill, a budget analyst might be a good fit. You’ll prepare financial reports, evaluate budgets, and help the business manage its finances. Average salary for a budget analyst falls around $62,539.
Jobs in Marketing
If numbers aren’t your thing, but you love the idea of promoting a brand and connecting with its customers, a career in marketing could be up your alley.
A marketing manager is involved in overseeing marketing campaigns for a company. You may be involved in the strategy, and/or actual execution of tools like social media, content, and advertising. Salaries start at $66k for recent grads.
If you want to get more hands-on with digital marketing, consider applying to become a digital media strategist. This role taps into analytics and data to build marketing and ad campaigns to build relationships with customers. The average salary for a digital media strategist is approximately $57,000.
If you’re a born salesperson, being a sales manager may come naturally to you. They develop sales and promotions and oversee sales teams for a company. The average salary for sales managers is $77k.
Jobs in Management
If you’re highly organized and have leadership skills, a career in management might be a good fit, particularly if you also have technical skills.
Management consultants often work in technology fields, and help companies solve problems or facilitate transitions. The average salary for management consultants is $88,000.
Or you could become an operations manager, who is in charge of making sure a company runs smoothly. This role could be involved in finance, supply chain, hiring, and overall strategy, and the average salary is $68k.
HR managers are also involved in the company’s operations, though from the human resources perspective. This role recruits, interviews, and hires employees, as well as onboards them and trains them. New MBAs can expect to earn about $59,000.
If you like keeping projects running smoothly, you might make a great project manager. You’ll be involved in assigning tasks to team members, communicating with company leaders, and facilitating the success of a project. Average salaries fall around $69k.
Another option is a product manager, who is involved in creating and marketing new products. The average salary for this role is $101k.
Jobs in Technology
If your skill set lies in IT, there are several jobs to consider once you’ve graduated.
As IT manager, your role would be to manage and upkeep a business’ IT hardware and software, as well as build strategies and protocols for IT security. The average salary is $85k.
Business intelligence analysts assess business data and trends to find ways that a business can become more efficient and profitable. The average salary for a business intelligence analyst is around $95,000.
How to Stand Out from other MBAs
Now that you have a sense of your career options post-graduation, the question is how to get hired.
Start by networking. There likely are organizations in your community that cater to a general business audience, or even a specific niche, like IT professionals. Your university may have an organization to connect students with employers.
As you build relationships with people through these groups, you can put feelers out for potential jobs. Remember: networking isn’t about what you can get out of it but rather what you can give. So contribute what you can and connect people when appropriate, and the favor may be returned.
Update your LinkedIn™ profile to reflect your education as well as any internships or organizations you have been involved with. It’s also a great place to search for jobs and connect with people who work at companies you’re interested in.
Finding a job will take time, so start early and have patience. Have a few versions of your cover letter that you can modify, and customize the letter you send specific to the job and company you’re applying with.
If you make it to the interview phase, send a handwritten thank you note to the person who interviewed you. This is not only polite, but might help you stand out, since few people send physical mail anymore.
After all your hard work, you will be rewarded with a career that allows you to utilize the knowledge you gleaned in your MBA program, and ideally offers a competitive salary that can help you repay any loans you took out to finance your education.
Getting your MBA can open doors for your career. MBA programs aim to teach students a broad range of skills that can help them thrive in a wide range of roles and industries, including tech, HR, marketing and more.
MBA programs can be pricey. If federal aid, scholarships, and savings aren’t enough to fill the funding gap, private graduate school loans could be one option to consider.
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