MBA Salary Trends: by region, by demand, by function!

I came across an excellent blog post last week on MBA salary trends and I couldn’t resist myself from putting it here for all the perspective students!

In this article we plan to look at post-MBA salaries across various industries and sectors. Naturally, these depend on the number of years of work experience, the pre-MBA profile, how well defined are the aims of the candidate and the list goes on and on and on. In fact a company called Wetfeet publishes insider guides to dream companies like Mckinsey, BCG and Booz Allen Hamilton, just to give prospective hires a flavor of what they would be grilled on in at the interview. Enough said. Hence this article will be a summary of the various salaries offered to post MBA students, with a little comment here and there from yours truly.

All data are pertinent to the year(s) 2006-7.

Salaries by Region

Almost all MBA schools give an analysis of their salaries by region. There are six major “regions” in which most schools choose to divide their data. Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America, Canada and the United States. They choose to leave out the entire continent of Africa and we would have been more satisfied had Asia Pacific included Australia and be labeled as Oceania. Surprisingly the middle east is left out too. Not much can be done about it anyways.

We could (instead of comparing salaries globally) compare salaries within one country region wise, e.g in the USA we could compare salaries among various regions as North East, Middle Atlantic, Midwest, South, South West and West. However even in a big country like USA, the local difference in starting post-MBA salaries is less than 2%.

After consulting various surveys and school reports an average estimation of the various salaries offered to post MBA students, region wise, is :

MBA Salary By Region

MBA Salary By Region

A point to be noted is that the above graph represents only the salaries and not the bonuses. To include the bonuses is not so simple. It depends on a number of factors like individual performance, functional area, sector, industry and so on. On wall street you might even end up with an annual bonus of half a million dollars (before 2008!!!) Hence bonuses are excluded due to the diverse and varied fluctuations in the same.
So, the regions of Western Europe and US offer among the highest salaries, and Asia Pacific among the lowest. Why? And what is the downside, if any?

A peek at the living expenses in these regions is the key to understanding the difference. In a country like UK, the expenses per month, for an average living is £1000 (US$ 1975). While in a country like India, you might have a comfortable living at INR 30,000 expense (US$ 700). Hence, the more developed the country, the more expensive is the living, and hence the higher are the salaries that MBAs command in these regions. The downside? Well, comfortable is a relative term. For me comfortable could be a log cabin in Canada, for you it might be a suite Burj-Al-Arab. Since this is an article on salaries and not individual tastes, we shall dispense with the formalities and keep the personal tastes to each his/her own.

Salaries by Demand (!?)

To put it simply, the more is the demand for MBAs in any region/function the more will be the salaries they command. The greater is the number of jobs that a country can generate the more will be the competition and hence the salaries will rise. On the other hand, the more people spend the more jobs will they generate.

An average picture of demand for MBAs all over the six major regions is:

MBA Demand By Region

MBA Demand By Region

Hence, as we can see, the US generates maximum number of jobs (followed closely by Western Europe) and hence the highest demand for MBAs, who in turn command higher salaries.

Salaries by Function

Consulting or IB? That is the question. A major factor deciding your salary post MBA would be the sector you are interested in. Not to say that some sectors are better than others, but simply that some have a higher inherent growth rate than others. A descriptive representation of the salaries commanded by MBAs in different functions is: (Note: Things have changed significantly since September 2008, high paying jobs such as Investment Banking are few and declining!)

MBA Salary By Function

MBA Salary By Function

This, again, is not exhaustive. It would depend on individual performance, pre-MBA salary, skills and other factors – some of them known to us, some not.

A region and sector wise comparison for US and Western Europe shows that in any particular sector the corresponding salaries in US are higher than those in W.Europe.

Local Analysis

In the first section we saw a global REGION analysis. However to get a closer picture lets see the salaries offered by companies according to the country the company is based in. We will leave the US and Canada as is.

MBA Salary By Country

MBA Salary By Country

The USA still leads, followed by UK as a close second. It would be interesting to see if this remains after the present economic downturn

Using the graphs

We can use the two graphs, Salaries by region and Salaries by country to our advantage to get a picture of comparison of salaries, cross-function and cross-country.

We will simply average the two figures.

Lets say I want a job in the Healthcare Sector in India. From the first graph the figure for healthcare is $87K and the figure for India is $22K. We add these and get $109K. Now we halve it (seems a good way to take average comparisons). So in the healthcare industry, after an international MBA one would be looking at a salary of $54500 in India. In the Indian currency this is about 23 Lakh rupees. Decent enough. However if the same person gets a healthcare job in Singapore, the salary one could expect to look at would be ($87K+$55K)/2 = $71K. The same job in UK would fetch $92K and so on. Try it, its pretty close!

This article, although not exhaustive, does present an accurate picture of salary figures post an international MBA. Moreover, its fun to actually see the average figures in the graphs for your own function/region/country. Feel free to comment!




Too many MBA Rankings 2009- Part 2

About year and half ago I wrote a blog getting confused on too many MBA rankings. That was before getting into school. Now, after spending over 5 months at UCLA Anderson I am still confused with the MBA rankings. Sure, I would love to see my school up on the MBA rankings however every MBA ranking conveniently has its own metrics and sometimes compares apple to oranges.

For example, FT Rankings 2009 puts Indian School of Business ahead of many US B-schools. However ISB is a one year program whereas majority of US B-school are full time 2 years MBA program.  Obviously ISB grads make more money because they investment into MBA compared to those who study at US B-school is significantly less and hence the % increase in their post MBA salary compared to pre MBA salary is comparatively higher.

In addition, the size of school also matters in MBA Rankings. The big schools probably have large alumni network and hence large endowment fund. Whereas small schools have smaller alumni network and hence endowment fund. Having access to large endowment fund makes more funds to the students as financial aid (and hence probably a better show on MBA Rankings). Now this is debatable and similarly many other things are. I will cut short and put links to different MBA rankings below for easy access. Hopefully it will be useful to many prospective students.

BusinessWeek Rankings 2009 –

Financial Times FT Rankings 2009 –

WSJ Rankings –

Top MBA Rankings –

US News Rankings –

Forbes Rankings –


Five Years to B-School: Do you really need to spend 5 years before getting into b school? V/s Are 5 years enough to get ready for b school?

Recently I came across the article series from Business Week titled as “Five Years to B-School”. Being in Business School right now and seen the fellow students around me I ponder on this question.  “Do you really need to spend 5 years before getting into b school? V/s Are 5 years enough to get ready for b school?” The article interestingly summerize the journey as below:

By the end of Year One, you had launched your career and found a mentor. In Year Two, you began taking on more responsibility at the office and in your extracurricular activities. Year Three brought a promotion or a move to another company. You made your mark on the job and started preparing for the application process in Year Four. Wrap things up at work in a way that leaves you in the good graces of your former employer, find a way to explain why you’re a good fit for the schools on your short list and completed your applications and start to live—and feel—like a student again by Year Five.

For me the last sentence is most close to the truth – live like a student on a thin budget and spend every week to “strategize” how you will find your next “dream” job. 🙂 Although I may or may not agree to many points suggested in this series this series is still very informative to those who are planning to apply over next few years.

Here’s summary each year’s plan from the article.

By the End of Year One…

You should have:

• Begun developing your skill set

• Found a few mentors who have given you a better idea about the jobs you might like to do in the future

• Found a way to translate your passions into a couple of activities in which you’d really liked to get involved

• Decided how you can make an impact at the office and in those extracurricular activities and start implementing a plan of action to do just that

• Kept your mind on business by reading relevant books and articles

• Made a decision about when you’d like to take the GMAT

• Started building a satisfying, well-rounded life and career.

By the End of Year Two…

You should have:

• Shown progress in your career

• Received a promotion or taken on a project or assignment that had you in a leadership role

• Started thinking about your next career move

• Taken on more responsibility for your relationship with your mentors and built an even larger network of professional contacts

• Demonstrated initiative in one of your extracurricular activities and continued to pursue your passions whatever they may be

• Worked on any weaknesses in your academic record

• Gained either exposure or experience internationally

• Begun to save money to finance your education


You should have:

• Either been promoted where you’ve been working or moved to another company to reach the next level in your profession.

• Found someone to mentor while still maintaining relationships with your own mentors and continuing to make contact with superiors who can better inform you about the MBA and various business schools.

• Narrowed down the list of things you’d like to be doing after you complete your MBA.

• Made contact with business schools that interest you.

• Discussed your future with your loved ones and listened to their thoughts about your plans.

• Tightened your finances even more than before in anticipation of paying tuition and going without an income for two years.


You should have:

•Earned recognition on the job and broadened your experiences by taking on new roles or projects

•Narrowed your list of top business schools and thoroughly researched them

•Chosen your recommenders and either talked with them about the MBA in general or your desire to apply, depending on your relationship with each

•Begun taking note of your achievements and demonstrations of leadership in preparation for the essays and the interviews

•Researched the regions of the schools that interest you most to determine the types of jobs available, the cost of living, and the culture for you and your family if you have one

•Started applying for scholarships and any other free money to fund your MBA


You should have:

• Wrapped things up at work in a way that leaves you in the good graces of your former employer

• Become an insider at the MBA programs at the top of your list

• Come up with a clear-cut career path to share with the admissions committees

• Addressed your weaknesses as an applicant in the application

• Found a way to explain why you’re a good fit for the schools on your short list and completed your applications

• Started to live—and feel—like a student again. The MBA is, after all, just around the corner

Having looked at the fellow students around I believe the time period to be ready for a B School vary significantly from candidates to candidate as well as what you need to do (or can do) in each of those five years also vary significantly depending on the industry you’re coming from. I am sure many of you who have already passed out from B School or are currently in B School have different thoughts. I would welcome any comments!


Article Source: BusinessWeek

Back to blogging…


I can’t believe it’s been over 6 months that I havent returned to my blog. I guess I was too busy with getting adjusted to new country, new culture, new people (and add few more words with a prefix new!). However I think it’s time to be back here and shout out some thoughts! For those who might be wondering which new world I am referring to I would restate that I am currently at UCLA Anderson pursuing my full time MBA.

Every year, many students from India work hard to get into US business school and I just went through the process. (It almost looks like yesterday when I think of my application process) So, I would love to answer any questions/concerns regarding application, interview, essays, visas, finance, student loan that prospective applicants/students have. Please feel free to post your questions here and I would try to get back to them as soon as I can.

Until next time…