How Much Does an MBA Make?

man and woman shaking hands

A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree is a popular option for individuals looking to enhance their understanding of business. MBA programs typically feature courses on areas such as management, accounting, human resources, marketing and operations. Some students may choose to specialize in a particular industry.

Earning an MBA can create numerous career opportunities in a wide range of industries. Still, figuring out whether pursuing an MBA is right for you can be a difficult decision. Understanding some of the possible career paths and how much an MBA makes can help prospective students decide to earn an advanced business degree

Is an MBA the Right Move for You?

Deciding to enroll in an MBA program is a significant step. Given that it is a postgraduate degree, there is a good chance that you may already have a successful career, familial commitments or both, resulting in a full schedule. Thankfully, many institutions recognize that a typical MBA student’s life is considerably different from an undergraduate’s life. Universities understand the need to craft MBA programs that can be worked into a student’s already demanding professional and social calendar.

Part-time and online MBA programs allow students to work at their own pace. With an online program, students can study and work at a time that best suits them—no rushing to class to make that lecture or taking time off work to attend a morning class. A part-time MBA program affords the same flexibility. With a lighter workload, students can find greater ease in balancing their personal, professional and academic commitments.

How Much Do MBA Graduates Make?

Although how much MBAs make can vary based on experience and other factors, salaries for graduates are typically generous. According to PayScale, the average annual salary for MBA graduates is $91,000. This is significantly higher than the average annual salary for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, which is $69,000, according to PayScale.

Additionally, employers continue to revere candidates with an MBA. The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) reports that 91% of recruiters were planning to hire MBAs in 2021 in a wide range of industries, including consulting, finance and technology. This represents an encouraging return to form following a slight downturn in MBA hiring (80%) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

3 MBA Career Paths

Given that the MBA program is broad in scope, a multitude of paths are open to MBA graduates. The career paths MBA graduates may choose to pursue include the following:

1. Human Resources Specialist

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) a human resources specialist is a multifaceted role, responsible for hiring and onboarding, benefit enrollment, tax and visa forms, and mediating workplace disputes. Human resources positions are found from large international corporations to small local startups.

MBA graduates are well suited to this role because education in management and administration are cornerstones of the program. MBA curricula also often include coursework on the fundamentals of human resources practice and management.

The BLS reports that the median annual salary for human resources specialists is $63,490 as of 2020. Typical salaries for human resources specialists vary considerably, depending on a candidate’s experience and the size of the company. The top 10% of earners in this field across the US earn $109,350 per year on average.

2. Investment Fund Manager

Investment fund managers typically oversee the overall management of a client’s money. They have the power to make investment decisions on a client’s behalf and are tasked with deciding the kinds of investments that may or may not be suitable. Most investment fund managers oversee and are responsible for vast sums of money. They are usually found in large organizations and will have sizable companies and other organizations as clients.

Individuals who manage the money of independent clients are usually regarded as financial advisers, which is another popular career path for MBA graduates.

This role necessitates strong interpersonal and communication skills, as investment fund managers spend considerable time meeting with clients. Investment fund managers also need a comprehensive understanding of global finance and the investment industry.

A career as an investment fund manager can be lucrative, particularly if you work for a large investment bank and have extensive experience. PayScale reports that the average annual salary for investment fund managers is around $103,100. How much MBA graduates make in this role can vary, ranging between $61,000 and $178,000 for the lowest and highest 10% of earners, respectively.

3. Chief Financial Officer

Every large company has a chief financial officer (CFO) who oversees and manages the entire organization’s finances. CFOs oversee everything from spending and the bottom line to the cost of onboarding new employees. They also scrutinize data to identify problems and propose solutions. This is a high-powered role with a considerable amount of responsibility.

Many CFOs have both an MBA degree and an extensive amount of professional experience. Given the level of responsibility and the potential consequences of a CFO’s decisions, recruiters tend to be highly selective in their search for candidates. The best CFOs will seamlessly blend financial acumen with effective leadership skills and a strong work ethic.

CFOs usually earn competitive incomes. According to PayScale, CFOs earn an average annual salary of about $138,300. The lowest earners have an average annual salary of $77,000, while the highest earners have an average annual salary of $227,000, according to PayScale.

The Key to a Rewarding Career in Business

Employers understand that MBA graduates possess advanced business knowledge, making them ideal candidates for various occupations. These three positions are just a sample of some of the exciting career prospects that MBA graduates enjoy.

Villanova University’s online MBA can prepare you for a rewarding career in business administration and leadership. With five concentrations to choose from—Analytics, Finance, Marketing, International Business and Strategic Management—and a flexible curriculum, you can pursue education that meets your needs and interests. Explore the curriculum and advance your career in business with Villanova.

Recommended Readings

How an MBA Career Change Can Open Many DoorsTop Career Opportunities for Today’s MBAsLess Conventional Career Fields for the MBA Graduate



Graduate Management Admission Council, Demand of Graduate Management Talent: 2021 Hiring Projections and Salary Trends

Graduate Management Admission Council, 2021 Corporate Recruiters Survey: Demand of Graduate Management TalentInvestopedia, “Chief Financial Officer (CFO)”

Investopedia, “Fund Manager”PayScale, Average Chief Financial Officer (CFO) SalaryPayScale, Average Investment Manager Salary

PayScale, Bachelor’s Degree, Business Administration Degree

PayScale, Master of Business Administration (MBA) DegreeU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Human Resources Specialists