Big Jump In MBA Tech Jobs In Chicago Booth’s 2021 Report

Chicago Booth School of Business reports a surge in tech jobs for its MBA Class of 2021. Photo by Joel Wintermantle

After a year and a half of everyone ordering everything online, it’s no great shock to see a surge in e-commerce jobs. The release of the Chicago Booth School of Business interim MBA Class of 2021 employment report is the first sign, with perhaps many more to come, that as coronavirus upended much about the world economy, it also accelerated MBA employment in digital commerce and the internet.

Boothies, at least, are snapping up those jobs in record numbers. Amid a school-record surge in tech jobs overall that saw more than 21% of grads find work in the industry this year, a huge proportion — more than half of that group, amounting to around 13% of the whole class — went to work in e-commerce, up from under 9% in 2020. The jump in tech work came at the expense of consulting and finance, the school’s more traditional areas of strength, the latter of which dropped to its lowest level for a Booth class since at least 2013.

However, the shift in favor of tech came with a downside: The class’s overall median starting salary stayed flat at $150,000 as median tech salary shrank to $134,000 from $140,000 in Booth’s final 2020 jobs report.


While the overall median salary for Booth's latest MBA class was flat in this preliminary report — a final jobs report is expected in November — tech was the main area to underperform, with e-commerce the prime culprit. No doubt that was a result of the increased number of grads going into the field. E-commerce starting salaries shrank to $130K from $135K, pulling tech overall down about 4.5%. The only other industry to see a decline was private equity, which dropped to $150K from $160K despite staying basically flat at 6.3% of the class.

But even as Booth's MBAs reported largely similar salaries to their predecessors (see page 2 for details), total compensation dipped — ever so slightly, but a dip nonetheless. Overall total comp was $169,800 in 2021, down $300 from $170,100 last year. (P&Q calculates total compensation by multiplying median salary by 100; multiplying median sign-on bonus by percentage of students reporting that they received it; adding the two together and dividing by 100. When schools report "other" compensation — which Booth has not done for two years now — that number is included, and raises the final total.)

The culprit: sign-on bonuses, which dipped in key industries. While bonuses were flat at a class-wide median of $30,000, despite dropping for finance (to $40K from $50K) and tech (to $35K from $40K).


Booth's tech placement rate of 21.3% was up from 16.3% in last year's final jobs report, a 30.7% increase. Notably — signaling how much can change can occur between intern and final employment reports — the tech number in last year's interim report was 14.7% — making for an even bigger upswing. But the shift was remarkable for another reason: Tech had been on the downslide at Booth. The school had been among those that saw the biggest drop-offs in tech jobs in 2020, slipping from 20.7% in 2019 to 16.3%, more than 21%.

Other notable shifts: Both consulting (34.9%) and finance (28.1%) dropped, the latter to its lowest level since at least 2013. And in the geographic areas where Boothies went to work, more stayed in the United States (93.2% to 91.4%), with the Midwest (30.3% from 32.7%) losing ground but the West (25.7%), Northeast (23%), South (5.1%), and Mid-Atlantic (4.1%) all gaining.

But again, this is a preliminary report, something only Booth does, which means not only will all these numbers change by a little or a lot, we also don’t get insight into major employers, job sources, or many of the mixed statistics that the final report will contain. For that, we have to wait until November.

See the next page for tables comparing Chicago Booth's interim MBA pay and placement data from the last two years to the final report issued in fall 2020.

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