Soaring demand pushes MBA salaries to record high

2006

With demand for MBA graduates rising by a quarter this year in both the US and Western European job markets, average bases salaries are approaching $100,000 with big bonuses to go with them.

Demand for MBAs has risen by an average of a quarter (24 per cent) this year in the US and Western European job markets, with the voracious management consulting sector reporting a rise in demand of almost 40 per cent.

As a result MBA salaries are also on the rise – up 7.5 per cent on last year. In the US and Western European job markets – still the largest employers of business school graduates around the world – recruiters are reporting that average base salaries for new MBAs have reached $90,500 (£48,000).

Bonuses are also up to an average of $23,100 (£12,250) across the range of sectors with investment banking paying the highest at an average of $37,500 (£19,900).

The figures, from a survey of 445 leading employers around the world carried out by the QS World MBA Tour, suggest that reward packages for MBAs are now at a record high.

In less well-established job markets for MBAs, salaries are lower but still rising steadily. Eastern European and Russian recruiters report average base salaries of $63,200 (£33,500), recruiters in Latin America $62,500 (£33,100) and in Asia-Pacific $67,600 (£35,800).

According to the study, the highest overall reward for newly graduated MBAs comes from the investment banking sector in the US and Western Europe, where total first year earnings have reached as much as $146,000 (£77,000).

But are MBAs worth these spiralling pay packages? Some employers are becoming less convinced that they are, with signs that some MBAs have excessive expectations in relation to their performance in the workplace.

One of the respondents to the survey, Andrew Siger of the manufacturing giant, Hilti spoke of a, "…highly competitive market (that) drives compensation insane," while John Sikking of the IT company, Gartner Group, described the current recruitment scene as a "…cattle call and it's difficult to discern who is interested in the firm and who is simply interviewing."

Even very well established MBA recruiters such as Goldman Sachs spoke of a "…high level of expectation in comparison to undergraduates."

However, for the present, the study argues that demand will continue to rise despite the attitudes of some new MBAs.

"The renewed demand from employers after a long period of downturn in the early years of the decade is yet to be reflected in a similar rise in applications to business school where there has been a decline of 20 per cent since 2003," said Nunzio Quacquarelli, director of the QS World MBA Tour.

"The result for potential MBAs is less competition for places at the best schools and a virtual guarantee that those taking up place over the next twelve months will find themselves graduating into a very 'hot' job market."