MBA Career Guide: 2017 Edition

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Sarah Chandler, NegosentroSince the unequivocal end of the Great Recession, the job market for MBA grads has grown steadily and robustly. From 2011 on, year after year, more positions have been available expressly to MBAs, and salary offers and benefits packages have expanded. In 2017, nearly 80 percent of employers expect to hire MBAs – compared with just 68 percent in 2016 – and of those companies, nearly 60 percent plan to increase their annual base salaries above the rate of inflation. The message is clear: If you have an MBA, you’re sitting pretty; If you don’t have an MBA, you should get one fast.

Because MBAs are so widely applicable, many grads aren’t sure what to do with their new degrees once they are ready to enter the job market. While there is no one-size-fits-all position for MBAs, there are a handful of jobs that promise high pay, healthy growth opportunities, and low unemployment rates. In 2017, the best jobs for MBAs seem to be the following:

Accountant

To most students, graduating with an MBA to become an accountant seems worse than counter-intuitive – it seems backwards. After all, most MBAs aspire to executive positions, and number-pushers hardly seem to wield much power.

However, MBA programs provide more accounting instruction than you might expect – and accountants are more influential within businesses than other professionals know. A business is built on numbers, so having a strong command of financial skills is a major boon in a business career. Plus, accountants typically understand compliance rules and develop strong communication, both of which are also necessary to future executives. An accountant with an MBA can quickly rise through the ranks to become a company’s controller, director of finance, or even chief financial officer.

Medical and Health Services Manager

While there is a separate graduate program for health care administration, there is plenty an aspiring health care services manager can learn from obtaining a master of business administration online. Health care systems are more complex now than they ever have been, and typical healthcare professionals often need assistance from those with advanced management skills – like MBA grads.

Despite the turmoil of the American health care system (which is throwing many international healthcare systems out of whack), job opportunities in this sector are experiencing explosive growth. Health care services positions should see a 17 percent increase by 2024. The best candidates for these jobs are professionals with some prior experience in health care bolstered by an MBA.

Financial Manager

Plenty of positions within businesses are frustratingly vague, and a prime example is financial managers. In effect, financial managers are responsible for a business’ financial health. Daily duties like producing financial reports, projecting profits, and observing compliance with regulations and laws – or they might be acquiring financial assets and companies. In some businesses, financial managers make critical financial decisions; in others, they keep track of money coming in and going out.

Regardless, as a financial manager, you can expect to make a median salary of about $117,990, which might be worth the uncertainty that comes with your job title. As with accountancy, financial management requires a firm foundation in business-related numbers which MBA degrees unquestionably provide.

Business Operations Manager

Another oddly unclear title – as all managers seem to oversee some type of business operations – business operations managers also tend to vary in their responsibilities. At most organizations, operations managers work to improve the business to make specific business goals more attainable. For example, operations managers might strive to improve:

 

  • Policies and processes
  • Information flow
  • Planning initiatives
  • Teamwork and morale

 

Nearly every MBA course is focused on teaching students how to advance businesses in some way, which means MBAs are particularly well-suited to careers in operations management.

Compliance Officer

As technology rapidly changes the world around us, regulatory agencies around the world are working overtime to develop guidelines and rules to keep businesses and individuals safe. While ultimately, regulations are beneficial, it is increasingly difficult for many businesses to remain compliant with new regulations. Thus, there is emerging an urgent need for professionals dedicated to compliance issues.

For MBAs, the beauty of compliance positions is their breadth: Nearly every industry is in need of compliance officers. Thus, MBAs can find well-paying positions in whatever field they find attractive, which isn’t necessarily true for other typical MBA jobs.

MBAs have an abundance of job opportunities, and the above five jobs are among the fastest-growing and highest-earning on the market. No MBA will be unemployed for long, but MBAs who seek these jobs will enjoy long, fruitful careers in their chosen fields.

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