A master’s in nurse anesthesia produced the highest starting income at $140,900 (with compensation only growing by roughly $22,000 between early-and-mid-career). Doctorates in Computer Science ($110,800), Computer Engineering ($108,100), and Electrical and Computer Engineering ($103,200) and a master’s in Petroleum Engineering ($102,800) round out the top five early career salaries.
ENTREPRENEURS START SLOW AND CONTINUE STRONG
Entrepreneurship is all the rage on b-school campuses these days. And that isn’t by accident. After crunching the numbers, PayScale found that students specializing in “Entrepreneurship” earned just $68,100 to start. By mid-career, they were making $138,300, over $70,000 more. And consider this: PayScale’s numbers don’t even factor in equity or stock compensation – a major source of wealth for entrepreneurs.
Other MBA concentrations where graduates generated high incomes by mid-career include: Marketing Management ($135,300), Economics ($131,800), Computer Science ($129,900), Marketing and International Business ($128,200), Finance ($126,800), Business Management and Marketing ($126,600), and Marketing and Management ($126,200).
For students looking to land high salaries early, their best bets (aside from Strategy and Computer Science) are General and Strategic Management ($81,800), Mechanical Engineering ($80,600), Business and Information Technology ($80,100), Corporate Finance ($77,000), Operations and Supply Chain Management ($74,800), Operations Management ($71,800), and Economics ($71,400).
Overall, 27-of-36 MBA concentrations paid out six-figure salaries by mid-career, with pay increasing anywhere from $30K-$72K from early-to-mid-career. The biggest jumps (aside from Entrepreneurship) originated from International Business (+$66,600), Business and Marketing (+$65,000), Marketing (+$64,900), Marketing Management (+$62,200), and Finance (+58,500).
IS AN MBA IN HUMAN RESOURCES A WASTE?
Tempted to get into human resources? You may want to resist the urge. MBAs in Business Management and Human Resources Management, Human Resources Management, and Human Resources produced the lowest starting salaries ($44,900, $49,700, and $48,500 respectively). They also represented three-of-the-four lowest median salaries at mid-career ($85,800, $84,900, and $80,700 respectively) – nearly $60K-$65K a year behind the top performer (Strategy).
Starting salaries in Marketing and Communications ($48,000), Accounting and Business ($51,700), and Accounting ($52,000) were also relatively small (though Marketing and Communications eventually ballooned up to $101,800 by mid-career). Aside from human resources, mid-career salaries in Health Care Management ($89,800), Accounting ($91,300), and Project Management ($92,100) were also sluggish.
In fact, there was little difference in income between an MBA and a master’s in any accounting field except Accounting and Finance, where MBA holders earned $27,000 more than their master’s counterparts. The salaries between human resources MBAs and master’s degree holders were also comparable.
IS A MASTER’S DEGREE A BETTER OPTION?
And that brings up another question: Are students better off foregoing an MBA in lieu of a master’s degree, which can take a year less to earn? The answer: It depends on the concentration. In most cases, a master’s degree results in a lower mid-career income than with an MBA. Here are some examples: Information Systems ($119,500 vs. $104,700), Economics ($131,800 vs. $113,600), Finance ($126,800 vs. $113,400), General Business ($110,000 vs. $90,800), International Business ($115,900 vs. $101,000), Marketing and Management ($126,200 vs. $92,700), and Leadership ($103,000 vs. $77,700).