Numbers Every MBA Wants to See

The nation’s unemployment rate may be stubbornly high, but a new report on salaries and employment for MBA grads gives plenty of reason for optimism.  In 2013 employers expect to snatch up business graduates in record numbers and reward them with higher salaries than in previous years, according to new reports published today (May 21) by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

Some three-quarters of the 935 employers surveyed by the GMAC plan to hire an MBA, up from 71% in 2012. Business savvy students can also expect to reap some serious rewards. MBA employers expect to pay their new hires a medium salary of $95,000, some $5,000 more than last year’s figure.

The GMAC reports capture the MBA employment climate from both sides of the market through an extensive series of employer and graduate student surveys.  The findings represent the responses of hundreds of employers and 5,331 students graduating in 2013 from 159 business schools.

Job prospects are particularly strong for MBAs headed into the energy and utilities sector, where 86% of companies surveyed expressed their intent to hire MBAs, up from 69% last year. MBAs are also in hot demand in healthcare, where an astonishing 89% of employers anticipate bringing B-school grads on board, a 12-point jump from last year.  Consulting also saw a double-digit leap, and 79% of employers surveyed indicated they would hire MBAs this year. Business graduates must have sensed the new opportunities, and more career switchers are moving into the consulting, healthcare and energy fields than are leaving them.

But not every industry is welcoming MBAs with open arms in 2013. Last year some 70% of employers in manufacturing expected to hire an MBA – that number has dropped to 63% this year.  Demand for MBAs in the government and nonprofit sector held steady at a lukewarm 45% in both 2012 and 2013.  And the number of employers in products and services aiming to add MBAs to their ranks has dropped slightly from 71% to 70%. Correspondingly, more career-switching graduates are leaving these industries than entering them.

Overall business students remain confident in their job prospects – an attitude bolstered by their degrees. A whopping 85% reported that their B-school credentials gave them a competitive edge in the job market. What’s more, 77% of these B-school grads said their education opened up new career opportunities.  Their confidence is not misplaced if the GMAC reports hold true – surveyed companies indicated they will hire an average of some 15 MBAs, up from 11 last year.

While these predictions are uplifting, they’re not necessarily solid job offers.  Luckily those are coming in, too. This year some six out of 10 students enrolled in full-time, two-year MBA programs had job offers at the time of the exit survey.  These prospects are slightly dimmer than those for 2012 graduates, 64% of whom had job offers in hand. Shockingly, the percentage of EMBA candidates with job offers fell 10 percentage points from 76% in 2012 to 66% in 2013. However, it’s worth noting that the vast majority (72%) of EMBAs aren’t on the prowl for new roles, but rather are seeking to climb the ranks within their current companies.  This compares with only 9% of full-time, two-year MBAs who are willing to stay the course with their current employers.

This year’s MBA graduates from two-year, full-time programs will likely be pleased to get their new paychecks.  On average, the group reported a whopping 79% increase in their base salaries. Graduates from full-time, one-year MBA programs weren’t far behind and reported a 70% increase in their annual salaries.

All in all, 2013 certainly isn’t a bad year to be an MBA.

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