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Where Are the Most High-Paying MBA Jobs in 2018?

Where Are the Most High-Paying MBA Jobs in 2018?  main image

There continues to be good news for MBA students looking for jobs at top employers such as Amazon. Last year in North America,there was a 10 per cent increase in hiring and MBA salary levels grew by US$17,400 to US$116,300.

These figures chime with the findings of the QS Jobs and Salary Trends report, which forecast an 8 per cent global growth in MBA recruitment. For the report, QS polled more than 3,400 employers globally, including Barclays, Bain & Co and Diageo.  Which industries will be providing the greatest number of opportunities for today’s MBA students? According to Marcel Kalis, Head of Career Services at ESMT Berlin, technology is the sector set to offer the most jobs and he expects the industry to continue to employ more MBAs in 2018. At ESMT, tech and e-commerce companies like Amazon snapped up 46 per cent of the class of 2016 (the latest year for which data is available).

Kalis believes technology is driving jobs growth in companies that do not traditionally fall under the umbrella of the tech industry. For example, management consulting firms' recent growth has largely come from digital services lines such as data analytics. 

He says: "[Trends driving recruitment] include tremendous growth in online shopping, growing customer demand and the need for exchanging data. The digitalization of lives is opening up career opportunities."

Uday Virmani, Director of Career Advancement Services at the Indian School of Business (ISB), adds: “Recruitments are happening in large numbers because of the churn that the technology industry is going through. It’s moving towards automation and significant developments are happening in areas such as fintech, artificial intelligence, big data and analytics, machine learning and cognitive analysis.”

It’s not all about the big tech firms however. Amazon, Google and Facebook may dominate the headlines, but consultancy firms were actually the largest recruiters at ISB and many other schools last year. Students are attracted to the high salaries and rapid career progression on offer in this sector; an MBA could make partner at Bain & Co within a decade.

According to the QS Jobs and Salary Trends report, the consulting industry will hire 14 per cent more MBAs in 2018 — by far the largest sectoral increase — and 3 per cent more in 2019.

“Recruitments are high in the consulting sector because of the kind of talent that ISB is able to provide — lateral thinkers with a few years of work experience who can hit the ground running without too much hand-holding,” Virmani says.

It’s in these instances where the case study method of teaching used by business schools really helps, as it ingrains a consulting mind-set. This is often obvious at the job application stage, as many of the top firms still use case-based interviews to assess candidates for jobs.

Last year, Bain & Co hired 35 MBAs from London Business School alone. “Our MBA hiring targets will grow,” says Keith Bevans, head of MBA recruitment for Bain & Co. “As you grow the business you have to grow the number of teams”, thus the number of people hired. 

Beyond academic performance and professional work experience, how can MBAs stand out from the pack? “Treat the interview more like a business discussion; it’s not a quiz and I’m not here to grill you,” Bevans says.

“I’m here to have a dialogue and replicate a client talking to you about their business. It should feel natural and you shouldn’t be nervous about going into an area of business that you’re not familiar with or doing a bit of math. Your ability to engage will be important on the job.”

MBA salary levels are high at consulting firms. According to a survey by advisory firm Management Consulted, the average starting MBA salary is $150,000. However, the QS report found that the financial services industry pays the best — 6 per cent more than consulting. Recruitment in finance will also grow by a healthy 7 per cent this year, making this another attractive option for today’s MBA students.

For a snapshot of MBA recruitment in this sector, look no further than Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in California, where finance firms hired 32 per cent of the MBA cohort last year. On average, they paid them US$150,000 starting salaries, with a US$43,750 signing bonus to boot and an expected US$120,000 performance bonus.

Of course, it’s not enough to just turn up for your MBA if you want to be one of these high earners. MBA students need to be using every advantage available to them in order to guarantee success in their career. For example, this summer, Said Business School student Niclas Huck will begin an internship at Oakley Capital, a tech-focused private equity firm in London. He credits his MBA experience, and the Finance Lab, a tailored financial training program at Oxford that runs employer case studies and competitions, as being vital in helping him get the internship. He says the events involved senior practitioners from the financial industry, providing “excellent networking opportunities”. 

Alessandra Christensen, senior associate director of recruiting services at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, advises students to take full advantage of jobs resources such as these from the start of their first semester. Even in a thriving MBA jobs market, with plenty of opportunities in tech, consulting and finance to name a few sectors, students will need to utilize every tool at their disposal to secure the top jobs.

Seb Murray
Written by Seb Murray

Seb is a journalist and consulting editor who has developed a successful track record writing about business, education and technology for the international press.

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