MBA degree holders are highly skilled, highly sought-after individuals in the business world, and as such, they typically command high salaries. With a number of jobs that can pay six-figure salaries, this makes an MBA an attractive degree for students and professionals who want to build a stronger career as well as flourish financially. 

This article covers:

  • Factors that influence earning potential
  • Work experience
  • Job market dynamics
  • Fields for MBA graduates
  • Salary range for MBA jobs
  • Stepping stone 

No quality Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree comes cheap. It can cost more than R250,000 to bag this qualification – quite a big financial investment for a relatively short postgraduate programme – but it can be well worth the returns in terms of the doors it can open for you. That’s just one of the reasons MBA salaries are so high

Factors that influence earning potential

The bottom line is that it takes hard work to build the career of your dreams and for it to be rewarding. Merely having an MBA isn’t a lucky ticket to prosperity; as a qualification, it’s a great asset, but it must be coupled with hard work if you want to get to the top.  

Work experience 

Like with any job, the greater the number of years spent in a career generally leads to a better salary. The more experience you acquire, the more you will be able to make when you have an MBA qualification

Job market dynamics

Every country has a unique job market, and remuneration in that market is influenced by different factors, including labour and economic dynamics. The job market is highly competitive, with scores of people who hold different types of qualifications and kinds of experience all competing for coveted posts.

Fields for MBA graduates

Some sectors are, of course, more lucrative than others. Earnings may, for example, be higher in finance and IT. If your MBA is specialised in a particular field or if you venture into a specific sector, this will also have a bearing on your salary range. 

This may be something to consider researching if you’re driven primarily by money. MBA graduates who have specialised and have in-demand skills can expect to get paid more than average.

MBA Degree

Salary range for MBA holders

However, not all jobs are created equal. Some pay well and some do not, depending on the functions of the job, the industry, and the individual attributes of an employee, such as professional experience, skills, and education. 

MBA salaries are high and with good reason: MBA graduates tend to have a competitive edge in the job market, particularly when they come from schools that teach practical, relevant management subjects that teach you in all aspects necessary to be able to hold your own in the boardroom. This helps put you at the front of the front line and attract the interest of potential employers ahead of candidates who do not hold the qualification.  

According to international compensation consultancy PayScale, one of the highest salaries for MBA graduates is that of a commercial director, which ranges from R2-million to R4-million per year. Granted, the role, which  involves growth strategy development, also requires years of experience. 

A director of risk management or risk control, who is responsible for oversight of all aspects of safety and security in an organisation, can earn between R772,000 and R2-million a year. 

And if you have an MBA and work in a senior role in finance as, say, a finance director, you can earn between R608,000 and R2-million a year.   

MBA HOLDERS’ SALARIES REPORTED BY PAYSCALE

Posts Salary range  Median salary 
Chief operating officer  R610k – R2m R1,146,354
Chief information officer  R606k – R2m R1,635,984
Business unit manager R616k – R2m R1,049,984
Head of IT and infrastructure R688k – R2m R1,123,815
Business development director R503k – R3m* R1,112,268
Director of human resources  R670k – R2m* R1,089,902
Chief marketing officer  R616k – R2m* R1,124,470

          * Range estimated | Source: PayScale

When you look at a job ad, one of the key things you scrutinise is how much the employer is offering to pay; this might determine whether you apply for the job. Knowing your worth when it comes to negotiation time is as important in order to get what you deserve, as well as what doing the job is worth. 

Stepping stone 

Earning a good salary following years of hard work in your career and in your studies can help you to accomplish your dreams, such as travel, buying your dream car or home, and enrolling your children in top private schools, among other things. An MBA is one of the most prestigious degrees anywhere in the world – and it’s a solid stepping stone on the way to the top.

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