Most business school students pursue an MBA with the expectation that it will lead to increased career opportunities and big financial rewards. And the degree continues to be a good investment for some individuals. For many, it will put them on the fast track and accelerate their career. Industry demand continues to be particularly strong in operations, technology and marketing, and healthcare is also emerging as a new and hot field for MBAs.

But business school is not just a destination for those looking to jump-start their careers. The MBA is a versatile credential that can help graduates switch to entirely new roles, professions, or industries. In fact, switching careers is one of the most commonly reported reasons for pursuing the degree.

For most MBA hopefuls, business school represents an exciting new beginning – either a move up in their current profession, or a big step towards an entirely different industry. Whatever promise the degree holds for you, it can position you for a substantive, responsible position right out of school.

What Can You Do with an MBA? How the Employment Landscape Has Changed

Across every industry, newly minted MBAs continue to be awash in great job offers. But this return on investment will hinge on many factors: the name brand and prestige of your school, your engagement with activities and leadership roles as a student, your summer internships, and most importantly, the profession you are entering. Those with strong technology and data analysis skills do particularly well, for example, regardless of the prestige or ranking of their school.

Who is doing the hiring? A wide range of employers. Mainstream corporations and Wall Street continue to hire their share of MBAs. Management consulting is also a common destination. Unsurprisingly, the technology sector is now a dominant goal for recent grads who are pursuing positions in the Silicon Valley area. And these days, many healthcare organizations are seeking MBAs as well.

Other popular destinations for newly minted MBAs include products and services and entrepreneurship, with new grads pursuing everything from positions in start-ups to their own one-of-a-kind companies.

MBAs have broad applicability in a wide range of industries. Graduates can work in almost any setting, and in almost any sector, from real estate, to healthcare, to entertainment, to not-for-profit, to tech, to hedge funds. Although students often specialize in a particular area to build their expertise, an MBA will give them the tools they need to enter a variety of fields.

Here are some of most common career paths for MBAS:

  • Marketing

  • Investment Banking/ Finance

  • Operations

  • Management Consulting

  • Technology

  • Entrepreneurship

Some of the most common positions MBAs are hired for include:

  • High End Management Consultant

  • Asset Fund Manager

  • Investment Banker

  • Hedge Fund Manager

  • Information Technology Director

  • Marketing Director

  • Business Operations Manager

  • Health Service Director

  • Sales Manager

  • Computer and Information Systems Manager

  • Operations Research Analyst

  • Strategy Consultant

  • Product/Brand Manager

  • Sales Manager

  • Financial Analyst

Popularity of the MBA

The popularity of the MBA is known to wax and wane, largely based on the ups and down of the economy. When times are booming, fewer employees leave secure and lucrative jobs for the unknowns of a business school education.

During times of economic downturn and layoffs, however, many individuals head to business school. Their strategy is to ride out the storm and reenter the workforce two years later, into a rebounding economy with a powerful degree.

Has the MBA Lost Some of its Luster?

Some industry pundits feel that for those who are already established or more advanced in their positions – particularly those in the technology sector – an MBA offers less value. However, many degree holders earn an MBA in order to enter positions in companies that are off the beaten path, or in more unconventional industries. The bottom line? This degree is versatile and positions you to build the career you want.

The decision to go to business school is a personal one, and the rewards go beyond those found in a paycheck. Many students say the best part about going to business school is the connection they make with their classmates. It’s invaluable to meet others with whom you share common goals, and who may even become future business partners or collaborators With so many ambitious and talented individuals in one place, the single greatest resource at business school might be your fellow students.

Nedda
Nedda Gilbert

Ms. Gilbert is a certified social worker and 30 year educational consultant with an interest in helping college-bound and graduate school students manage the process and stress of admissions effectively. She is one of the senior founding managers of the Princeton Review Test Preparation Company, and the author of The Princeton Review Guide to the Best Business Schools and another book, Business School Essays that Made a Difference (Random House). She is a guest contributor to Forbes Magazine on college and college life. Ms. Gilbert is also certified as a collaborative family law professional in New Jersey. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MS from Columbia University.