|Environmental Management, Clean Energy & Sustainability|
|STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math|
|Strategy, General & Strategic Management|
Although nationwide unemployment has dipped to five percent—a seven-year low, the job market still isn’t what it used to be. Some blame automation, while others say global competition and reduced labor supply are the problem. Whatever the reason for today’s not-so-perfect job market, it is still an employer’s market in many industries. This means, they can demand much more from potential employees for less pay.
On the bright side (at least for jobseekers), there are some industries that continue to struggle with finding quality talent, so demand in these areas is high. So, to give themselves the upper hand, shrewd MBA students often choose specializations that can prepare them for success in these in-demand fields. This decision alone could boost their earnings by $50,000 to $60,000 per year.
It’s not surprising that many of the most popular MBA specializations also have the highest earning potential. Other benefits include industry growth and stability, advancement opportunities, prestige, and the excitement that comes with entering an innovative field. Based on reports from sites such as PayScale, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and business schools across the U.S., we have identified the standouts among the most popular MBA specializations for 2015-2016. Here you go.
Environmental Management, Clean Energy & Sustainability
Sustainability, climate change, and clean energy are increasingly critical issues for business managers and those working in government, education, and the nonprofit sector. This means the demand for talented MBAs with a background in environmental management and/or clean energy and sustainability is high. According to the University of Massachusetts-Boston, “green jobs have been growing rapidly due to growing consumer awareness, new regulations, and corporate pursuit of sustainability, from climate change to clean water. Markets and career opportunities are also growing rapidly in energy efficiency, smart grid, carbon trading, and related financial and professional services. Managers in every sector and every function from operations and marketing to accounting and finance, need to become knowledgeable about sustainability management and reporting.”
Courses: Business and Climate Change, Environmental Economics, Climate and Energy: Law, Policy, and Management, Clean-Tech Entrepreneurship, Environmental Management Implementation and Operations
Potential earnings: $117,200 per year
Healthcare reform has caused a boom in everything from healthcare startups and e-health ventures to consulting practices and pharmaceutical R&D. Today, nearly 11.8 million people work in all areas of healthcare and the industry appears to be unemployment proof. Although the unemployment rate in May 2013 was 7.6 percent nationwide, 89 percent of healthcare employers still planned to hire MBA graduates that year. In 2012, 77 percent planned to hire MBAs.
Today, employment growth in occupations such as “medical and health services managers,” “healthcare executives” or healthcare administrators” is set to average 23 percent for the 2012-2022 decade. This is “much faster than average” for all occupations.
Courses: Healthcare Operations, Healthcare Law and Regulation, Healthcare Innovation and Evaluation, Modeling and Analysis of Health Care Data, Healthcare Quality Improvement
Potential earnings: Medical and health services managers $103,680, hospital CEO $166,000, hospital CFO $155,000, hospital administrator $110,000, pharmaceuticals product manager $100,000+, health informatics manager $84,000
STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
Graduates with a STEM background are some of the most in-demand workers in the U.S. In fact, these workers are such high demand that, in an effort to stop the as many as 50,000 foreign-born STEM workers from being forced to leave the country, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in October proposed new rules that would lengthen the “optional practical training" program OPT) “to allow participants more training and an additional shot to apply for a coveted H-1B foreign-worker visa,” according to a U.S. News & World Report article.
Courses: Law, Regulatory, and Ethical Environment of Business, Technology Commercialization, STEM Theories in Business Practice, Strategic Business Communication, Information Technology and Operations Management
Potential earnings: According to PayScale, MBA + STEM = salary potential. “This combination has led its alumni to the second-highest early career salary” on PayScale’s 2015-2016 College Salary Report. The early career salary, according to PayScale, is $83,000 per year with a mid-career salary of $128,000.
The entrepreneurship specialization can prepare students to run a major corporation or start their own. It can help graduates start a smaller business, pursue franchise opportunities or obtain sources of venture capital. The number of opportunities for MBAs with a background in entrepreneurship is endless, which is just one reason why this specialization is so appealing to today’s MBA student. Growth in this area is promising and it’s quite trendy too. Just take a stroll around Silicon Valley—a hub for innovators and promising young entrepreneurs. According to FastCompany, findings in the 2015 Kauffman Index show that 310 out of 100,000 adults, or 0.31 percent, started new businesses each month, on average an increase over the previous year’s 0.28 percent of the adult population. That translates to just over half a million (530,000) new business owners a month.
Courses: Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Global Business Conditions, Social Entrepreneurship, Managing Entrepreneurial Organizations, Financing the Emerging Enterprise, Applied Organizational Research & Analysis
Potential earnings: The BLS does not report employment and salary information for entrepreneurs. It is common knowledge, however, that some entrepreneurs make millions per year while others may earn six figures. Still others may earn less than $100,000. Nevertheless, some websites such as Indeed say entrepreneurs average $61,000 per year, while PayScale reports that early career pay for entrepreneurs is $68,400 and mid-career pay is $131,000. SimplyHired reports that entrepreneurs average $111,000 per year, while another site called Sokanu reports that entrepreneurs earn an average salary of $178,400 per year.
Strategy, General & Strategic Management
A shortage of talented managers has created a huge demand for highly educated general and strategic managers. According to the Lubin School of Business at Pace University, MBAs in this specialization will graduate with the skills needed to meet this demand. Programs help students develop the ability to recognize, analyze, respond, and strategically plan for such environmental factors as changing laws; accounting, financial, and economic challenges; technological changes; organizational and sociocultural issues; and domestic and international trends.
Courses: Competitive Business Strategy, Corporate Diversification Strategy, Government Institutions and Business Strategy, Negotiations and Bargaining, Business Strategy and Stakeholder Responsibility
Potential earnings: According to the BLS, top executives such general and strategic managers earned an average salary of $101,650 in 2012. According to the Lubin School, strategic management graduates can expect to earn $130,000 per year. Early career pay for strategic managers is between $84,000 and $93,100 per year according to PayScale. Mid-career pay is between $144,000 and $148,000 per year according to the site.
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