The authors of the study said that this year’s results suggest that applicants “increasingly see the MBA as a way to progress within their current industry. 65.4% of candidates across all industry areas intend to remain in their current field upon graduation, and this includes a majority of candidates in nine out of 13 industry areas.”
The risk adverse nature of applicants comes through, too, in the expectations for salary. “The most dramatic decrease in expected earnings comes from candidates in Africa and the Middle East who expect to earn $94,000, a drop of $26,000 from the $124,000 they targeted last year,” according to the report. “Drops have also occurred in Eastern Europe ($149,000 to $128,000), Latin America ($90,000 to $70,000) and Asia-Pacific ($122,000.) The only region where target salaries have increased is Western Europe ($125,000 to $128,000), despite the fact that average current salaries in the region have fallen from $53,000 to $47,000.”
APPLICANTS IN 13 OF 18 COUNTRIES EXPECT STARTING SALARIES ABOVE $100K
The report found that despite the drop in expectations this year, candidates in 13 of 18 countries are targeting salaries of more than $100,000 a year.
To get those big salaries, candidates appear willing to work longer hours. Some 34.2% of prospective MBAs responding said they expect to put in 50 to 60 hours of work weekly, while 12.6% said they expect to work between 60 and 70 hours a week. The report found that the rise in candidates expecting to work 40 to 50 hours a week was 34.2%, while the increase in those expecting to work 60 to 70 hours a week was 12.6% from last year.
The proportion of candidates interested in remaining in their current field has grown substantially across a range of industries. Consulting applicants who intend to stay with the industry jumped to 76.9% this year from 42.1% a year earlier, the report found. Candidates in finance who plan to stay in their industry grew to 76.2% from 47.6% in 2012.
CONSULTING AND FINANCE REMAIN THE MOST POPULAR INDUSTRIES FOR MBA CANDIDATES
“Consulting and financing remain the most popular industries for candidates from other sectors to seek a career in upon graduation,” the report said. “Over 25% of respondents in every industry other than telecoms are interested in a career in consultancy upon graduation, including 49% of respondents currently employed in finance.”
On the other hand, the report found that only 12.8% of candidates currently employed in retail or wholesale see themselves remaining in the industry after getting their MBA as do only 17.7% of those in telecom. More than 60% of applicants now employed in retail or wholesale say they are seeking a career in the technology sector once they graduate.
Yet another rather surprising finding in the study was a drop in the number of prospective MBA students who want to start their own business—at least in terms of those who responded to the QS survey. Asked where candidates see themselves in ten years, some 26.8% of respondents expect to run their own companies. That is down from 28.7% in 2011 and 28.3% last year (see table below).
All told, 4,122 applicants responded to the survey from the more than 70,000 applicants who registered for the QSWorld MBA Tour in the spring and fall of 2012, a response rate of 5.9%.