What Industries Give MBAs The Big Pay Bump

highest lowest paid mbas 2014

Back before business school, did you wonder how much more money you’d make with an MBA? Well, that’s probably a stupid question, because you obviously did, and then decided to get an MBA.

How much more money should you be making though? Does an MBA provide a higher return in some industries versus others? At TransparentCareer, we dug into our data on some of the top industries. This is what we found out.


Pre-MBA Median Salary/Compensation: $85,000/$98,150

First Job post MBA Median Salary/Compensation: $140,000/$184,500

Hours Worked/Week: 59 Hours

Satisfaction: 6.5

Popular Companies: McKinsey & Co, Boston Consulting Group, Bain, Deloitte, ZS

With the highest salary bump on the list, consultants with an MBA reported earning $55,000 more a year in salary compared to their MBA-less (is that a word? It is now) counterparts. If you want to work in consulting, chances are McKinsey, BCG, and Bain are near the top of your list. That’s fine, but there are also many other consulting firms you may not be as familiar with, but should be (see Consulting Firms MBAs Should Put On Their Radar Screen).

Consumer Products

Pre-MBA Median Salary/Compensation: $73,250/$77,775

First Job post MBA Median Salary/Compensation: $105,000/$140,000

Hours Worked/Week: 48 Hours

Satisfaction: 7

Popular Companies: Procter & Gamble, Pepsico, General Mills

As an industry, consumer products hires a high volume of MBAs every year, only trailing behind consulting and investment banking in terms of numbers. Consumer products also has incredibly satisfied MBAs on average, with their median satisfaction score ~20% higher than the all-MBA average. Part of this likely comes from better work-life balance, with MBAs in the industry typically working just 48 hours a week, much lower than more strenuous fields such as consulting or investment banking. Check out our list of the best consumer product firms here.

Investment Banking

Pre-MBA Median Salary/Compensation: $85,000/$120,000

First Job post MBA Median Salary/Compensation: $125,000/$220,000

Hours Worked/Week:77

Satisfaction: 6.4

Popular Companies: Goldman Sachs, CitiGroup, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase

Pulling the highest amount of hours worked a week at 77, investment banking boasts both the highest total compensation on this list at $220k, and also the highest post-MBA bump, with MBAs earning $100k more than those without the degree. Expect high competition for top positions though – Goldman Sachs only hired 9,700 of 313,000 applicants in 2015. Take a look at our list for the best investment banks for MBAs here.

  • MBA_hopeful

    There seems to be missing links to other articles under Tech and Investment Banking. Very interested in MBA salaries vs. expenses in different cities article that is referenced but not linked

  • avivalasvegas

    As an alum from one of the M7 programs, I always encourage candidates to think about two things:

    A) The type of colleague you’ll be working with:

    It’s not really too difficult to see where your fellow cohort populations gravitate to. (I’ve done by best to summarize from my experiences here, but will acknowledge that I’ve painted with broad strokes and exceptions exist across all)

    Consulting – 1) 50% the “cool” kids who are always at the weekend pub crawl 2) Always dressed the part but with very little to meaningfully add to a conversation 3) Not a clue what they want to do with their lives but compensate for this by messaging externally that they have always wanted to be consultants 4) 1 of only 2 options for international students

    Banking – 1) The most aggressive of the population pool – very difficult to work with. 2) Sound and “look” intelligent 3) The “lone wolf” type 4) Very profficient with Excel

    Tech – 1) Very mixed backgrounds with loads of international students who don’t want to be consultants. 2) Social awkwardness galore 3) Less aggression but just as political. 4) Want to work at Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon and nowhere else.

    Marketing – 1) Least diverse, usually a lot more female than male with almost no international students 2) Least aggressive 3) Suffer from major FOMO 4) The other 50% of the “cool” kids at the weekend pub crawl

    B) Where you’ll be in 3 years:

    While it may be tempting to think about your offer from B School, I’d advise you to think about what comes just a few years after.

    1) Consulting – Probably not a consultant, regardless of your intent. Take a look at the number of partners at the firms vs. the number of bodies hired at the consultant level. Now work backwards and do the math to realize statistically speaking, you’ll probably leave for tech or marketing or be managed out with kids gloves to become a future client.

    2) Banking – Probably very rich and very lonely. My IB class mates consistently share that they still don’t where their time (and their loved ones) went. You’ll have a great title and will be burned out faster than you thought you could be.

    3) Tech – Probably at one of the other major tech companies in a similar role. Pay will be relatively linear but job satisfaction and work life balance will likely be good.

    4) Marketing – On your 3rd or 4th brand as a brand manager. Pay will be flat but you’ll likely have great work life balance.