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2011: More MBA Job Offers, Higher Pay

It’s official: this year’s MBA job market has made a dramatic turnaround.

The Class of 2011 that will be graduating with MBAs over the next few weeks has landed more jobs, with slightly more job offers at higher starting salaries, according to new research out today (May 10) by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

The most positive sign of the turnaround comes in the percentage of forthcoming MBA grads who already had at least one job offer at the time the research was conducted in March—more than a month before graduation. This year, more than half (54%) have a job offer in their pocket, compared to only 32% last year, an improvement of 22 percentage points.

NEW B-SCHOOL GRADS CAN EXPECT TO EARN BASE SALARIES OF $91,433 THIS YEAR

Salaries are also higher this year. New B-school hires in the United States can
expect to earn an average base salary of $91,433, up from $89,141 last year and $86,299 in 2009, GMAC said. This compares with $50,180 for graduates with just a bachelor’s degree. In Europe, MBAs can expect to pull down slightly higher base salaries–$91,696—while MBAs in Asia Pacific can expect to earn $30,315.

2011 MBAS INCREASING BASE PAY BY 73% OVER PRE-SCHOOL SALARIES

Just as crucial, grads from two-year full-time MBA programs reported a 73% increase in their post-degree base salary compared with what they earned before beginning their studies, on average. This is an increase from the 64 percent average salary boost seen by their peers in the class of 2010. It’s also the largest increase since 2008 when the MBA boost amounted to 74%.

In addition to a salary boost, Class of 2011 graduates expect other positive changes to their employment situation, according to GMAC. Some 43% expect an increase in responsibilities, 35% will receive a promotion, and 30% will have a change in job title. Another 15% expect an increase in direct reports, 11% an increase in budgetary responsibility, and 5% will receive a cash bonus for completing a degree program.

MBA JOB OFFERS UP TO 2.0 THIS YEAR, FROM 1.7 IN 2010

And job offers increased slightly as well, up to 2.0, on average, from 1.7 last year for two-year, full-time MBA grads. It’s the best job offer number for MBAs since 2008 when soon-to-graduate MBAs reported 2.3 offers, on average. Helping to increase offers is the fact that 67% of employers represented in the survey expect to hire new MBAs during the coming year, up from 62 percent in 2010 and 50 percent in 2009.

The GMAC research confirms several earlier reports of a vastly improved job market for MBA graduates at top schools (see “MBA Jobs: From Dark Days to a Happy Present.”) This latest research—based on two GMAC surveys to second-year students as well as corporate recruiters—precedes the more specific placement reports from individual schools in the fall.

Moreover, the improved numbers reflect B-schools and corporate recruiters across the board, not merely the top 25 or 50 schools which tend to outperform the industry or the large-scale hirers of MBAs that essentially make the market. The survey of students, for example, is based on 4,794 recent or soon-to-be grads at 156 schools. Roughly 20% of the schools are outside the U.S. The survey of corporate recruiters is based on 1,509 responses, representing 905 companies in 51 countries.

“There is a clear connection between the optimism employers are expressing and the improving job prospects business school graduates are seeing,” said Dave Wilson, president of GMAC, in a statement. “Organizations need smart managers to deal with challenges—and they rely on them to seize opportunities.”

GMAC reported that increased hiring was most notable in the following industries: manufacturing, non-profit/government, high tech, finance and accounting, and products and services sectors.

“Viewed in terms of employment offers, the bottom of the 2008–2010 downturn was about as deep as that in 2003, but the subsequent recovery has been a quicker climb for the current class,” the GMAC report said. “The positive upturn