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For many, it’s safe to say that the motivation for pursuing a postgraduate education boils down to the potential of increasing one’s annual income, in light of the serious costs. More specifically, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can open up several career advancement opportunities in addition to providing desired salary increases. 

But for many prospective students, the real concern is whether earning this prestigious degree is truly worthwhile. (For more, see: The Real Cost Of An MBA.)

Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

In terms of salary, the financial outcome after attaining an MBA can be exhilarating or disappointing depending on a person’s intent. According to a 2016 study by Poets & Quants, some graduates made close to twice as much as others based on the field they entered. Human Resourses (HR) majors came out on the bottom with an early career median pay of $48,400, while strategy majors start with $96,200 per year. By mid-career the median pay is $79,200 and $149,000 per year respectively.

The Average Expectation

PayScale conducted a survey of average salaries from 4,156 MBA holders with degrees in a variety of categories. According to the survey, just under 1.4 percent of participants had less than one year of work experience with an average salary of $51,396. Those with one to four years of experience, about 22% of respondents, had an average salary of $60,541. Additionally, the 33% with 10 to 19 years of experience made an average salary of $98,800 annually. The survey results clearly reveal that work experience contributes significantly to an MBA’s salary.

Gender and location are other variables that can skew an average salary. Men claimed to earn between $51,396 and $123,056, while women made between $42,891 and $99,488. California had the highest paid MBA graduates with a median salary of $99,947. 

The Bottom Line

Experience and job type have the most significant impact on compensation. If the time is put in for a certain career path, a higher salary should be on the horizon. 

Gender and location play a role in determining the level of pay as well, although not to the same extent as the two preceding variables. With numerous variables to consider, the question of average salary truly comes down to an individual’s circumstances. No education is a waste, and with enough time and effort, an MBA can take a graduate as far as his or her ambition will allow. (For more, see: MBA Vs. Executive MBA: Which Is Better?

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