For most MBA students, business school is about boosting career prospects. We calculated the average return on investment (ROI) for graduates of 235 full-time MBA programs in the QS TopMBA.com Return on Investment Report: Full-Time MBA 2018. The average payback in North America is typically around four and a half years. Our research into 3,463 MBA employers found a 13% surge in hiring levels in 2017 compared with 2016. You can read more in the QS TopMBA.com Jobs \u0026 Salary Trends Report 2018.But who’s hiring MBAs in 2018? For MBAs keen on consulting, as many typically are, employment growth appears to be strongest than any other industry, with hiring expected to spike by 14% in 2018, though growth will cool considerably to 3% in 2019, according to QS data.A good example is Bain \u0026 Company, one of the most prestigious management consultancy firms in the world, which plans to hire 500 MBAs globally in 2018, up from 400 in 2016. Keith Bevans, Bain’s consulting recruitment chief, says the firm values MBAs because “they have several years’ work experience and the programs, as we know, provide well-rounded, general managers. MBAs are ready to come in as consultants and do a job from day one”. At Chicago’s Booth School of Business, the latest employment data show a decent surge in consulting employment, from about 27.5% in 2016 to 35% in 2017. McKinsey \u0026 Company alone hired nearly 50 MBAs.QS research also points to a hike in MBA hiring in the technology industry. Tech employers expect to increase employment by 5% in 2018 and 2% in 2019, after a stellar 2017 in which they employed 13% more MBAs.Microsoft, headed by Chicago Booth MBA graduate Satya Nadella, recently told the FT it hires several hundred MBAs a year from nearly 150 different schools in 40 countries. Jodi Washington, program manager at Cisco’s networking and security transformation team, says the tech company values strong analytical thinkers who are confident collaborating across organizations.A record 25% of Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management MBAs went to work in tech companies across the globe such as Apple, Google and Cisco, up from 22% in 2016.Consistent with the growing popularity in MBAs pursuing roles at tech companies, in 2017, almost one-third of the MBA class at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management accepted job offers on the West Coast, up from 26% a year before.Damian Zikakis, director for Career Services at Michigan’s Ross School of Business, says: “Interestingly, students have the perception that tech companies are more innovative than non-tech companies and therefore there will be more opportunity for them in tech firms earlier in their career. Tech companies such as Amazon and IBM are in the news all the time — they’re making our phones or our apps. “Everyone wants to go to Google, but they should look at the career trajectory of other companies, too, for instance the auto-manufacturers. When you look at where their product plans are in the future, they are based heavily on tech. Our motor vehicles now are essentially computers on wheels. We see a lot of opportunities in management in that space.” For those banking on a career in finance, there are reasons to be cheerful in 2018, with finance employers expecting to increase MBA hiring by 7% in both of the next two years, according to QS research. MBA students have in recent years begun to migrate away from traditional financial services employers such as investment banks in favor of more entrepreneurial organizations with a better work-life balance. At Wharton last year the percentage of MBAs going into finance reached a record low of around 33%, down from 41% five years previously. Investment banks and brokerages hired a measly 13% of the cohort. Where there seem to be brighter job prospects for finance-focused MBAs is on the buy-side, at investment funds for instance. Last year at Harvard Business School, private equity was the second-largest employer, with a record 18% of MBAs landing jobs in the sector, up from 10% in 2013. Venture capital is another bright spot, says Todd Carson, senior associate director of Wharton MBA Career Management. “Investment groups — from hedge funds to family offices — have begun to compete for typical VC investments, and our students have joined these types of funds in greater numbers as well.”With such a buoyant jobs market, 2018 would appear to be a good year to be an MBA.