The 2021 MBA Career Landscape and Top Jobs for Full-Time MBA Grads

May 12, 2021
FTMBA Jobs Landscape

After a challenging year, the 2021 MBA job market is showing strong signs of recovery. Discover how the trends are evolving and what today’s most lucrative career choices for full-time MBA grads are

The 2021 MBA Career Landscape and Top Jobs for Full-Time MBA Grads

The economy has taken a thrashing over the past year, affecting the hiring and starting salaries across industries for many college graduates, including those with an MBA. But while 2020 was indeed a down year, there are signs that 2021’s MBA class will see a significant rise in demand and compensation.

An MBA (Still) Makes Sense

Completing an MBA requires an investment in time and tuition, but that investment can often deliver tremendous returns, both professionally and financially.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the average starting salary for 2021 full-time MBA graduates will be 11.3 percent higher than it was for 2020 MBA graduates and $29,000 higher than for those with an undergraduate business degree. Plus, according to experts, an MBA degree more often leads to management and executive-level positions, which typically means higher compensation than non-management positions.

But before choosing a program, it’s important to consider how long it takes for a business school’s MBA graduates to land a job after completing their program. This can be even more meaningful in poor economic conditions when companies tend to be extra cautious about hiring. Many factors, including the school’s reputation among corporate recruiters, the effectiveness of its career services department and the quality of the program in general, can impact how quickly graduates are hired. For example, even with the challenges of 2020, Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business boasts an 80 percent placement rate for full-time MBA graduates 90 days after graduation. And for the Fall of 2021, that rate has jumped to 87 percent, exceeding many other U.S. business schools.

Today’s Top MBA Specialty Programs

Many MBA programs provide the opportunity for students to specialize their studies in a particular area, so that when they graduate, they have the requisite knowledge and skills to jump to the top of the candidate pool and to higher salaries in the field.

Here are three of today’s most lucrative specialty career paths full-time MBA graduates can aspire to:

• Medical Director – Oversees operations of hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other healthcare organizations. They direct medical staff, ensure quality of care, take part in budgeting, hiring, training and recruitment.

Relevant MBA Concentration: Healthcare Administration

Average Starting Salary: $115,000

Median Salary: $221,784


The Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University offers an MBA specializing in Healthcare Administration, a program U.S. News & World Report ranked #17 in 2019. The curriculum includes a 9-month residency where students get a chance to apply classroom skills in an actual medical organization setting—the type of real-world experience that’s highly valued by potential employers.

• Data Scientist – Uses data science methodologies and business acumen to help organizations make sense of the enormous amounts of data available to them. A rather cross-functional role, data scientists work with stakeholders across the entire organization to analyze data and extract actionable insights which help to solve complex organizational challenges, strengthen company performance and boost product innovation.

Relevant MBA Concentration: Business Analytics

Average Starting Salary: $67,000

Median Salary: $96,491


• Chief Technology Officer (CTO) – Supervises technology development and operations within an organization. They create strategies to optimize existing technology platforms and practices while discovering new ways to remain competitive and current in technology. They work with managers and IT staff, lead software and hardware updates and maintenance and ensure data security. In addition to strong foundational business and managerial skills, CTOs often have a background in IT.

Relevant MBA Concentration: Cyber Security

Average Starting Salary: $89,000

Median Salary: $163,016


The Outlook for the General MBA

Although specializing can be lucrative and makes sense if you have a specific career interest, a general MBA may offer more flexibility. In addition, it’s often the best option for those who want to go into consulting, which is still among the most popular target careers for MBA graduates.

MBA graduates choose to work for consulting firms for several reasons, including:

• Exposure to a variety of industries, locations and functions

• Career networking opportunities, as consultants often report directly to company executives

High compensation – according to the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics (2019), the median annual salary for business analysts is $85,260, though TransparentCareer (2020) reports that starting total compensation for an MBA graduate in consulting amounts to about $200,000.

The Bottom Line

While 2020 had its challenges, the 2021 outlook for full-time MBA graduates is vastly improved. By taking a long-term view, an investment today in an MBA can pay dividends over your entire career, which can span decades. It will open doors to more job opportunities, lead to meaningfully higher compensation, allow you to move up in your career more quickly and grow your professional network.

What's Next

Is an MBA in your future? To learn more about the full-time Master of Business Administration program offered at Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, we invite you to explore our detailed program page. Still have questions about the program? Our admissions advisers can help you determine the best path forward. Complete the form below and our team will contact you directly.

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