Careers for MBA Graduates
For those aspiring to make their mark in the ever-changing and competitive world of business, an MBA degree can open doors to many different careers. MBA graduates remain in high demand in both established industries, such as banking, finance, and insurance, as well as quickly growing ones including technology, healthcare, and tourism. According to a 2021 corporate recruiters survey, recruiters expect to increase the number of MBA hires over the next five years.
Given the number of MBA career paths available, it's important to know what specific employment opportunities are open to graduates, as well as how different MBA specializations mixed with non business-related educational backgrounds can unlock unique roles.
Jump to a Career:
Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers | Computer and Information Systems Managers | Chief Executives | Chief Sustainability Officer | Environmental Economists | General and Operations Manager | Marketing Managers | Medical and Health Services Managers | Natural Science Managers | Other MBA Jobs
Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers
Median Annual Salary: $97,410
Job Outlook: 6%
With consistent advances in medicinal technology, there is a constant need for professionals who can lead research and design initiatives seeking to make future breakthroughs in the field. Bioengineers and biomedical engineers with an MBA can usually move into management consulting positions at large pharmaceutical companies, technology firms, and even start-ups, where they may supervise a team of engineers. Their responsibilities can be vast, but typically include managing funds, setting product completion deadlines, and communicating with investors and financial managers. As managers, they may also work to ensure that new developments meet ethical, regulatory, and legal standards in the medical profession.
Students interested in this career path should aim to enroll in a MBA program that includes a life science management concentration, as this will help them develop an understanding of the relationship between business and biotechnology. Alternatively, those with a bachelor's in biology or biological sciences may also consider pursuing a generalized MBA.
Computer and Information Systems Managers
Median Annual Salary: $159,010
Job Outlook: 11%
There is little doubt that computing and informational networks are essential to how different types of organizations function. As such, computer and information systems managers can be found working in many sectors including government, business, and non-profits. They are primarily responsible for ensuring informational technologies function effectively and meet an organization's goals. This may involve determining computing needs, exploring ways to maximize network efficiency, negotiating with external vendors, or devising online security protocols. Given the extensive scope of information technology (IT), computer and information systems managers often specialize in a particular area such as cybersecurity or software development.
Many MBA programs offer students the chance to specialize in technology management or information systems, though aspiring professionals will also likely need a background in computer science or a related area to pursue this career. An MBA can also help graduates advance into higher-level IT management positions, including chief technology officer, chief information officer, and IT director.
Median Annual Salary: $179,520
Job Outlook: -1%
Every business needs individuals who can think strategically, set targets, and oversee high-level operations. Chief executives — which include CEOs, CFOs, and COOs — are responsible for ensuring a business achieves its long-term goals and, where appropriate, meets shareholder expectations. Their day-to-day responsibilities include working closely with supervisors and middle managers, analyzing industry trends, and developing policies for rank and file employees. Beyond this, chief executives largely focus on planning and coordinating business activities to ensure different departments work in harmony. In certain cases, they may also serve as board members.
While earning an MBA is not necessary for those who hope to become top executives, CEOs at many Fortune 500 companies are MBA graduates. Gaining the required on-the-job experience to qualify and leadership skills for a C-suite executive role may take several years, but MBA graduates who specialize in the executive track may have more opportunities to land high-level positions and may thus take less time climbing the corporate ladder.
Chief Sustainability Officer
Median Annual Salary: $179,520
Job Outlook: -1%
Companies in the modern business world are expected to behave as responsible corporate citizens. This means that they self-regulate their activities to have positive effects on the economy, environment, and society. Chief sustainability officers are in charge of coordinating business's corporate social responsibility programs, which can include working with charities, minimizing carbon footprints, and ensuring business practices align with social values. Aside from directing such initiatives, chief sustainability officers are also typically responsible for devising programs that meet a dynamic set of international laws and regulations. Their job can therefore involve working directly with government bodies to develop best practices and evaluate existing sustainability policies.
This career path may be ideal for individuals who are interested in how environmentalism and business overlap, and prospective students should aim to enroll in an MBA program with focus on sustainable innovation or environmental management. They may also consider taking environmental management courses as electives in a generalized MBA program.
Median Annual Salary: $105,630
Job Outlook: 10-15%
Like chief sustainability officers, environmental economists are concerned with sustainability issues. However, these professionals focus more directly on addressing environmental problems such as air pollution, water contamination, and soil degradation, to name a few. Environmental economists generally work with data and financial analysts to analyze the effects of human activity on ecology, wildlife, and the atmosphere. They conduct cost-benefit analyses and evaluate policies, as well as identify the potentially harmful effects economic activity can have on the environment.
Though they need a solid background in economic theories and concepts, environmental economists often also need to be effective managers who understand how to administer projects and supervise others. This is especially the case if they work for companies that produce renewable sources of energy, or other organizations that are seeking to minimize their impact on the environment. An MBA with a focus on sustainability or environmental management — along with a bachelor's degree in economics — may help students embark on an environmental economist career.
General and Operations Manager
Median Annual Salary: $97,970
Job Outlook: 5-10%
Businesses, government organizations, consulting firms, non-profits, and start-ups all need to ensure they run efficiently. To do so, they hire general and operations managers to coordinate a range of activities, from sourcing and acquiring raw materials, to stocking inventory, quality control, and production. Their work has become increasingly important given the interconnected and fragile nature of global supply chains. To address these and similar challenges, operations managers work closely with finance, human resources, and marketing departments. Their day-to-day tasks can involve analyzing risk, contingency planning, and developing budgets.
Aspiring operations managers should enroll in a business operations MBA program. Aside from equipping them with the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue this career path, these specialized MBAs may also help graduates advance into higher-level positions such as chief operations officer.
Median Annual Salary: $135,030
Job Outlook: 10-15%
With marketing practices rapidly changing in today's digitized, social media-driven world, marketing managers play a crucial role in developing an organization's brand and communicating with customers and clients. These professionals work in a fast-paced environment where they often use different kinds of data to determine how to market goods and services. They also typically supervise a team of market research analysts whose job it is to conduct surveys and do competitor research. Additionally, marketing managers may be in charge of determining overall marketing strategy, which involves working closely with leadership and product managers to identify sales targets, branding goals, and other high-level objectives.
Generalized MBA programs often include marketing classes. However, students can also pursue a specialized MBA in marketing which includes extensive coursework in the field. This latter option is likely to give graduates a better understanding of modern marketing techniques, and may therefore increase their chances of landing a job in this area.
Medical and Health Services Managers
Median Annual Salary: $101,340
Job Outlook: 32%
Healthcare administration is a highly regulated field that comes with its own unique set of organizational challenges. Medical and health services managers work to address these challenges in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and other similar settings. Their responsibilities include identifying personnel to hire — including physicians and surgeons — analyzing financial operations, developing strategic goals, and communicating with pharmaceutical companies or insurance agencies. Medical and health services managers must also stay abreast of changing legal and regulatory requirements to ensure patients receive the correct kind of care.
Given that working in the healthcare sector requires specialized knowledge, prospective students should aim to enroll in an MBA program with a focus on healthcare management. These programs may allow students to focus their training in areas such as health informatics, administration, or finance issues specific to the industry.
Natural Science Managers
Median Annual Salary: $137,900
Job Outlook: 6%
Natural science managers primarily work in the research and development field, where they direct the activities of scientists such as biologists, physicists, and chemists. Their work is often aimed at designing new products or technologies that are used in other industries such as manufacturing or healthcare. The job of a natural science manager can entail a few project management responsibilities, including hiring staff, setting deadlines, coordinating production, and other administrative duties. In some cases, natural science managers may also be directly involved in the research process. This may require them to review scientific findings for accuracy or set methodological guidelines for other scientists.
Natural science managers come from a variety of science backgrounds. They often complete a bachelor's degree in engineering, biology, or chemistry, before earning their MBA to move into a managerial position. Students with prior education in a science or engineering field can typically apply for a generalized MBA program to become natural science managers.
Other MBA Jobs
Beyond landing a well-paying job, an MBA can also prepare graduates to start their own business. Unlike with some high-level management roles, an MBA is not a requirement to become an entrepreneur. However, a graduate education may allow students to gain the necessary knowledge needed to envision, establish, and successfully run a new business.
As entrepreneurs, MBA grads develop long-term strategic and financial goals for their businesses. They are also likely to oversee other aspects of their organization, including operations, finance, personnel hiring, and day-to-day functioning. Some MBA programs include a specific entrepreneur track, which is likely to benefit those interested in entrepreneurship. But future business-owners can also consider pursuing an MBA in management.
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