The Job Market for MBAs Is the Best Since 2010

June 21, 2016, 3:25 PM UTC
University Of Birmingham Hold Degree Congregations
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Students throw their mortarboards in the air during their graduation photograph at the University of Birmingham degree congregations on July 14, 2009 in Birmingham, England. Over 5000 graduates will be donning their robes this week to collect their degrees from The University of Birmingham. A recent survey suggested that there are 48 graduates competing for every job. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

It took a while, but demand for MBAs has finally bounced back from the recession. A new study from the Graduate Management Admission Council says 88% of companies are planning to hire recent B-school grads this year. That’s a marked increase over last year’s 80%, and a huge jump — 33 percentage points — over 2010, a dismal year when B-schools saw what the report calls “a post-recession low.”

Not only that, but salaries are recovering, too. Worldwide, more than half (54%) of companies say they’re sweetening starting pay for MBAs. U.S.-based employers plan to offer median salaries of $105,000, up a bit from $100,000 last year. GMAC’s researchers also asked about compensation for candidates with non-MBA master’s degrees. Tied for best paying: A master’s in data analytics and master’s in marketing, both with median starting salaries of $85,000.

Drawn from two separate surveys of more than 2,000 employers worldwide, the study’s findings reflect the accelerating globalization of business in general, and the MBA job market in particular. For instance, 2016 B-school grads would be smart to make sure their passports are up to date, since about a third (30%) of companies hiring more MBAs this year plan to ship them out to “multiple world regions.”

At the same time, American MBAs may find themselves facing more competition from B-school grads looking to move to the U.S. More than half (52%) of the companies surveyed said they either have definite intentions of hiring, or are willing to consider, “recent business school graduates who require additional legal documentation, such as work permits or visas.”

Employers’ appetite for MBA candidates varies from one country to another, the study shows. Only 35% of German companies plan to hire more of them, for instance, versus 70% of Chinese enterprises. The MBA boom in China explains why GMAC has just issued a Chinese edition of its study guide for the Graduate Management Admission Test, which plays a significant role B-school admissions.

Except for a couple of introductory chapters, the Chinese version is the same as the U.S. edition. “Chinese students have to take the GMAT in English,” explains Ashok Sarathy, a GMAC vice president. “But we think the Chinese preface helps make them more comfortable with it.”

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