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How Much Does an MBA Increase Your Salary?

21 Nov
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Pursuing an MBA can drastically increase earning potential, with some research showing salary jumps as high as $20,000 per year on average for graduates.1 MBA holders enjoyed median salaries of around $115,000 in 2022,1 demonstrating the degree's power to boost earnings. Salaries vary based on the job location, industry, the graduate’s experience level and the hiring company. While higher pay is a key motivator, an MBA also provides networking, transferable skills and stability. This article analyzes recent MBA salary data across locations, specialties, and top companies to give readers a comprehensive look at how an MBA can elevate their career and pay.

What Is the Job Outlook and How Much Do MBA Graduates Make?

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 911,400 new business and finance jobs each year through 2032,2 it is well worth understanding the difference an MBA can make to your career prospects in this booming market. MBA grads also enjoy a diverse range of opportunities across sectors, including management, business development, operations, finance, marketing, project management and consulting.

Regarding salary, perhaps a better question to ask is, “What is a reasonable MBA salary increase to expect?” While an MBA program is a considerable investment in both time and money, as noted above, MBA graduates may earn as much as $20,000 per year more than if they held a bachelor’s degree alone.1 However, factors such as your location, seniority, industry and organization can all affect your potential salary as an MBA graduate.

Average MBA Salaries by Location

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 2023 for a role requiring an MBA in New York, for instance, is $179,210, which is a bit higher than the $121,108 annual salary for similar roles in Florida.3

The top five states for highest paying average MBA salaries as of December 2023 are:3

  • Washington—$200,825
  • New York—$179,210
  • Vermont—$175,826
  • California—$171,250
  • Maine—$166,549

Average Salaries by Specialty

MBA graduate salaries also typically vary according to your field or specialty. Research
shows that the highest average salaries are offered to top business school graduates in three industries—finance, consulting and technology.4

Check out the highest-paying industries and their salary averages for MBA graduates:4

  • Finance—$144,052
  • Consulting—$138,992
  • Technology—$129,045

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.

Average MBA Salary 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.

A Higher Average Salary Is Not the Only Compensation

Finally, it is worth remembering that salary is not the only compensation offered to MBA Graduates 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 and MBA programs 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 Program

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.