MBA Bay Area

Curious about post-grad MBA salary? Learn which concentrations pay the highest

By Liz Rosenberg

Advancing in a career and growing wages are two common reasons MBA hopefuls apply to top business schools. Data published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers reveal that the average starting salary for the class of 2019 MBA grads is $84,580, or roughly $25,000 more than the starting salary for those who only hold a bachelor's degree.

While this salary difference is already significant, there are opportunities for even higher earning potential, depending on which industry, function, and specialization you select and pursue. Discover which MBA career paths you can choose from, and learn where the highest earning potentials exists.

Highest post-grad MBA salary by industry

According to data from the 2018 MBA program at UC Berkeley, and the 242 students who graduated, the median starting salary across all industries and functions was $127,571. Specific sectors fared better than others when it came to opening offers though. Consider the following rankings:

#1: Media and entertainment, mean base salary of $136,667

#2: Technology, mean base salary of $132,784

#3: Consulting, mean base salary of $132,268

#4: Transportation and logistics services, mean base salary of $126,617

#5: Financial services, mean base salary of $125,583

#6: Manufacturing, mean base salary of $121,429

#7: Energy, mean base salary of $120,667

#8: Consumer packaged goods (CPG) and retail, mean base salary of $119,344

#9: Health, BioTech, and Pharma, mean base salary of $114,600

#10: Nonprofit and public sector, mean base salary of $109,125

#11: Real estate, mean base salary of $98,910

Berkeley proprietary data shows that 70% of all students in the 2018 class received sign-on bonuses, with the technology industry offering the highest bonus, averaging $35,337. The industry with the lowest average sign-on bonus of $21,208 was CPG and retail.

Highest paying post-grad MBA salary by function

Within each industry, there are various functions with higher demand and value in the current marketplace. As a result, identifying particular job roles inside highly paying sectors can improve your salary upon graduation from an MBA program as well. According to data from the 2018 graduating class at Berkeley Haas School of Business, the following functions were the most highly paid:

#1: Business development and strategy, mean base salary of $132,890

#2: Consulting, mean base salary of $129,929

#3: Finance, mean base salary of $117,952

#4: General management, mean base salary of $125,682

#5: Marketing, mean base salary of $130,825

#6: Operations, mean base salary of $121,945

#7: Real estate, mean base salary of $123,547

#8: Rotational program, mean base salary of $129,714

By function, the highest mean sign-on bonus was in the rotational program, which averaged $57,000. The lowest average sign-on bonus was $20,500, in the business development and strategy function.

Why MBA students should select a specialty

Entering into a well-paying industry or function is only one component that influences the salary metrics cited above. Students also have the opportunity to specialize in an industry or function, rather than becoming a generalist, which can increase mean payouts. For example, at Berkeley, you can select an area of emphasis in social sector leadership, entrepreneurship, or corporate social responsibility. By focusing on these niche areas of business, you’re learning adaptable, future-facing skills that will help you achieve specific career goals. A specialized MBA will not only give you a competitive edge—boosting your odds of landing an interview or receiving a job offer—it can also increase your wages.

Research shows that MBA concentrations focused on verbal concepts and critical thinking over technical or quantitative skills may have higher wage increases year-over-year. For example, the mean starting salary for an MBA student who specializes in international business is $62,600 and increases to $121,000 as a mid-career average. Likewise, the innovation management average starting salary is $62,600 and rises to $134,000 at mid-career.

Furthermore, according to Berkeley Haas School of Business graduate, Jack Song, "With the specialization, you gain a close network that helps in learning the latest trends. It also helped me obtain my career goals with my first job out of MBA school."

Are you ready to determine which MBA career path is right for you? We can help. Contact Berkeley Haas School of Business today.

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Posted on August 20, 2019
Themes: Alumni  |  Entrepreneurship
Liz Rosenberg
Liz was Senior Associate Director of Admissions for the Full-time MBA Program at Berkeley Haas from 2018-2019. She holds an MBA from Boston University and came to Haas after gaining years of experience in retail for Gap and Gymboree, in financial services for Putnam Investments, as well as engaging in significant non-profit volunteer work. Prior to joining the Full-time Berkeley MBA Program, she spent 7 years in admissions for Berkeley MBA Programs for Working Professionals. She loves her work in admissions because of the connections she's able to develop with students, all of whom bring such amazing diversity of personal and professional experience to the program.