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How Much Does an MBA Increase Your Salary?

04 Dec
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A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can drastically increase your earning and career potential. A quick scan through open business positions reveals that an MBA is frequently listed as an essential requirement for higher-level positions, and these leadership roles typically carry with them desirably high salaries that can make the challenging journey to reach them entirely worth it in the end.

With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting the addition of around 476,200 business and finance jobs in the next decade,1 it is well worth understanding the difference an MBA can make to your career prospects in this booming market.

What Is a Reasonable MBA Salary Increase to Expect?

While an MBA degree is a considerable investment in both time and money, research indicates the ROI for graduates may be as high as $20,000 per year in additional salary and compensation.2 MBA graduates also enjoy a diverse range of opportunities across sectors, including management, business development, operations, finance, marketing, project management and consulting.

Overall, MBA holders enjoyed median salaries in the range of $115,000 per year in 2019—more than double what graduates with only a bachelor's degree in business administration earned.2 However, factors such as your location, seniority, industry and organization can all affect your potential salary as an MBA graduate.

MBA Salaries by Location and Specialty

The typical salary earned by MBA graduates can vary depending on the location in which they choose to work following their graduation. For example, in the U.S., salaries for positions requiring an MBA vary from state to state. Salaries offered in states with vibrant urban areas and business communities often outpace those in other parts of the country. The average annual salary in 2020 for a role requiring an MBA in New York, for instance, is $90,734, which is a good deal higher than the $66,544 annual salary for similar roles in North Carolina.3

MBA graduate salaries also typically vary according to your field or specialty. Research conducted by the salaries website Payscale, for example, broke the set of all business roles down into four categories: technology, finance, marketing and consulting. Their research suggests there may be annual salary difference of around $20,000 between the highest-paying of these specialties (technology at $112,000 per year) and the lowest-paying (marketing at $91,000 per year).4

Other Factors Influencing Business Administration Salaries

In addition to your location, several other factors can influence the degree of salary increase you may enjoy as an MBA graduate. For example, the demand for specific roles, particularly ones that require hard-to-find skill sets, may lead hiring managers to offer increased compensation for them in a competitive job market.

Additionally, relevant work experience may contribute significantly to your post-MBA salary increase. This can be true whether you are looking for a new opportunity with a new organization after you graduate or if you continue to work while you earn your degree and you intend to stay with your company after you earn your degree.

MBA Salaries and Industry Leaders

It is also worth noting the company you work for can have a considerable impact on the salary you can expect as an MBA graduate. A start-up company operating on a modest or fluctuating budget, while a potentially exciting opportunity, is unlikely to offer as competitive a salary as a well-established, long-standing industry leader. At the same time, competition for positions in such high-paying industry leaders is fiercer, making it more difficult to land these more lucrative positions. An MBA can make it easier to stand out from the crowd when applying to the highest-paying jobs.

Salary Is Not the Only Compensation

Finally, it is worth remembering that salary is not the only compensation offered to professionals working within the various business administration fields. Job-seekers should consider the true ROI of their MBA degree to be reflected holistically by benefits such as health insurance, life insurance, vision and dental plans, retirement plans and FSAs in addition to their increased salary. These benefits often add up to a considerable yearly sum for full-time employees, who should weigh different packages offered by prospective employers as carefully as the bottom-line salary.

A professional with an MBA can also expect their total annual earnings to exceed their base salary. For example, many individuals earning business administration salaries can also expect to earn perks such as signing bonuses, performance bonuses and stock options.4 These forms of compensation represent long-term financial benefits that reward an MBA holder for the impact their increased knowledge and sharpened mindset will have on the growth and success of their organization. Over many years with an organization, the value of these perks can add up to a considerable sum.

MBAs also offer less tangible benefits, such as increased networking potential, the development of valuable transferable skills and a higher level of job security once that dream job has been obtained.5

Boost Your Salary Potential With William & Mary’s Online MBA

No matter your location, profession, industry or career goals, earning a well-regarded MBA is a great way to add immediate credibility to your resume that can justify your requests for a higher salary as you advance on your career journey.

The Online MBA program from William & Mary is an outstanding opportunity to not only earn this important credential, but to develop a finely tuned leadership mindset and a design thinking-influenced decision-making process that can help you stand out among a crowded field of MBA graduates. Explore our revolutionary curriculum and learn more about how our online learning experience is built to accommodate working professionals.


1. Retrieved on October 14, 2020, from www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm
2. Retrieved on October 14, 2020, from businessbecause.com/news/mba-jobs/6951/average-mba-salary
3. Retrieved on October 14, 2020, from ziprecruiter.com/Salaries/What-Is-the-Average-MBA-Salary-by-State
4. Retrieved on October 14, 2020, from e-gmat.com/blogs/average-mba-salary-by-industry/
5. Retrieved on October 14, 2020, from usnews.com/education/blogs/mba-admissions-strictly-business/2016/04/08/4-key-career-benefits-from-mba-programs