Demand for candidates with a Master of Business Administration continues to be high. Business professionals who want to earn this degree will find many options for specializations. For good reason, finance is one of the most popular options.

A traditional MBA can take two years to complete. By comparison, online programs such as the MBA with a Concentration in Finance at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside can be completed in 12 months.

What Is the Job Outlook for MBA Grads?

There’s no shortage of job opportunities for MBA graduates. As just one indication, the 2019 Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Corporate Recruiters Survey found that 77% of responding companies planned to hire recent MBA graduates.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data reflects this high demand for MBAs. Job growth in management occupations is faster than the average for all occupations. In particular, demand for financial managers will grow 16% from 2018 to 2028.

Those considering business school may wonder how the outlook compares for candidates with an MBA versus another business master’s degree. Again, the 2019 GMAC survey backs up the value of an MBA. For example, the demand for MBAs is more than double that for candidates with a Master of Finance.

Top Jobs in Finance

A bachelor’s degree may be enough to get an interview, but as BLS notes, many employers seek candidates with a master’s degree, such as an MBA in finance.

Salaries will vary based on job title, employer, experience and other factors. Overall, however, MBA graduates should anticipate a solid salary bump. Based on the 2019 GMAC survey, new MBA hires earn a median starting salary of $115,000 — more than double the $55,000 for new bachelor’s degree hires. In the finance and accounting industry, that number jumps to $125,000.

As an additional incentive to earn an MBA, nearly 60% of U.S. companies plan to offer signing bonuses, with a median bonus of $10,500. Five top jobs for finance professionals:

  1. Controller (or financial manager)

The activities of a controller may vary depending on the size of the company. Generally, controllers prepare financial reports, maintain accounting records, supervise budgets and ensure compliance with business laws and regulations. BLS includes the role of controller as a type of financial manager. The median annual salary for financial managers is $127,990. By comparison, operations managers earn a median annual salary of $100,930.

  1. Investment banker

This career is known for its high earning potential. Investment bankers work in securities, commodities and financial services. Investment bankers with an MBA can see salaries that are nearly 90% higher than for those with a bachelor’s degree. According to BLS, the median annual wage rockets from $90,000 with a bachelor’s to $170,000 with an MBA.

  1. Financial analyst

This may be a dream job for data enthusiasts. Companies rely on financial analysts for the high-level work that informs investment opportunities. UW-Parkside’s MBA in finance includes an emphasis on information technology to help kick-start a financial analyst career. As of May 2018, financial analysts earn a median annual salary of $85,660. Financial analysts working in securities and commodities earn slightly more, with median salaries of $101,410. Salaries increase considerably for the top 10%, who earn more than $167,420.

  1. Senior risk manager

Business professionals who frequently find themselves asking “what if” may have what it takes to be a risk manager. Many risk management specialists work in the banking and financial sector. Activities include identifying risk areas and controls and assessing potential outcomes. As one example of risk management in banking, consider the cost of bank scandals and data breaches. PayScale reports an average median salary of $119,000 for senior risk managers, as of January 2020.  A bonus can add another $5,000-$30,000.

  1. Chief financial officer

An MBA in finance can pave the way to executive-level positions. CFOs oversee the financial management in an organization, from handling company-wide cash flow to ensuring compliance with local and federal laws. As of May 2018, BLS reports that top executives earn a median salary of $189,600, with the highest 10% earning more than $208,000. Top CFOs can expect much higher salaries. According to Business Insider, the highest-paid CFOs in 2014 earned between $12 million and $73 million per year.

With high demand for MBAs and plenty of six-figure salaries, now may be the time to get started on earning the business degree employers prefer. An online program such as the MBA with a Concentration in Finance at UW-Parkside, part of the University of Wisconsin system of schools, offers a convenient and affordable path.

Whether it is a position with a startup, a small business or a Fortune 500 company, an MBA in finance is a degree that could open the door to advancement all the way to the executive level.

As a general note, salaries included here are meant to be a guideline and are not guaranteed. Actual salaries will depend on location, company, experience and more.

Learn more about UW-Parkside’s online MBA program with a Concentration in Finance.


GMAC: Corporate Recruiters Survey 2019

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Financial Managers, Job Outlook

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Financial Managers, How to Become a Financial Manager

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Financial Managers, Pay

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Career Outlook – Should I Get a Master’s Degree?

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Financial Analysts, Pay

PayScale: Senior Risk Manager Salary

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Top Executives, Pay

Business Insider: The 25 Highest-Paid CFOs