Which MBA field has the highest salary? Payout illustration

Among the wide range of career opportunities that come with earning your MBA, it’s no surprise that some of the top-paying jobs for MBA grads are in executive leadership (think CEOs, CFOs, and CMOs). But what you may not realize is that mid-level leadership roles in finance, technology, and healthcare also pay big dividends.



The proof is in the payoff

The breadth of MBA career paths and salaries is expansive – and opportunities abound. Based on our research, we’ve put together this shortlist of the top MBA specialization salaries1 to help narrow your focus:

Executive Leadership Specialization:
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – $821,100+
Chief Financial Officer (CFO) – $213, 020

Healthcare Specialization:
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) – $151,040
Pharmaceutical Medical Director – $147,494
Medical & Health Services Manager – $101,340

Technology/IT Specialization:
Chief Technology Officer (CTO) – $132, 056
IT Director – $119,558

Finance Specialization:
Financial Manager – $131,710
Director of Finance – $126,342

Marketing Directors, Product Managers, Analysts, and Management Consultants can also earn upwards of $90k in today’s market. If you’re looking for the highest-paying MBA concentrations, you can’t go wrong with a focus in any of these lucrative fields.

Do MBA concentrations matter? Depends on your goals.

Choosing a concentration for your MBA gives employers a signal: You have both a well-rounded overview of how businesses operate plus a deep understanding of a specific subject area. 

Concentrations allow you to zero in on a field that interests you while also completing the expected MBA curriculum. 

According to Princeton Review,2 the top five most popular MBA concentrations are strategy, corporate finance, operations, entrepreneurship, and management. However, GMAC3 reports in their 2023 Corporate Recruiters Survey that the top MBA specializations in demand by employers include communication, data analysis, and strategy—and their importance will continue to grow.

Due in part to the rise in demand for analysts, more than 6% of Fall 2022 Iowa MBA students added a Master’s in Business Analytics to their MBA program, and over 5% are pursuing a Business Analytics Certificate along with their MBA.

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Phaedra Strohmaier

“One of the things that my Business Analytics Certificate really helped me with is being able to communicate with senior business leaders.”

Pick your passion: What area should I focus on for my MBA?

Your area of MBA concentration should reflect your interests as well as where you want your career to go. Do you aspire to lead teams and manage business strategy? Consider an executive leadership or strategic management concentration.

Does digging into consumer trends, buyer behaviors, and advertising metrics set your heart aflutter? Follow your instincts to a marketing or business analytics specialization.

With business strategy emerging as both a popular and relevant specialization in today’s job market, it’s a safe choice when choosing a concentration.

If you’re looking to add a more unique specialization, consider the emerging fields of business analytics and communication to stand out in a candidate pool.

There’s a nearly endless amount of opportunity for those who want to add focus to their MBA program. We’ve put together an MBA specialization list4 that shows the breadth of available options (we’ve linked to the certificates you can add on to your Iowa MBA):

  • Sustainability
  • Real Estate
  • Social Impact
  • International Business
  • Change Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Accounting
  • Non-Profit Management
  • Executive Leadership
  • Project Management
  • Human Resources
  • Public Administration
  • Economics
  • Hospitality

The list could (and does) go on and on. There’s an MBA concentration for nearly every industry—choosing yours could lead you to a satisfying career that matches your expertise with your passion.

Sarah Nauman

"Iowa’s Marketing Certificate is something that backs up my MBA with a focus on a career path that I wanted to pursue."

And finally … Will an MBA increase my salary?

Whether you decide to add a concentration to your MBA or not, there’s little doubt that earning an MBA degree will pay off in the long run. GMAC reports that the average starting salary for MBA graduates is $125k annually.  

A recent Transparent Career study5 reports that MBA salaries get a boost of anywhere from 8% to 65%, depending on your industry. Not only that, Coursera’s 2023 Salary Guide6 shows that MBA graduates earn up to $50k more than those with a bachelor’s degree alone.

You may still be asking: Why should I get an MBA? Investing in yourself, your career growth, and a fulfilling and happy future are all solid reasons to go for it. Adding a concentration or certificate will only enhance your appeal to employers looking to fill specific roles.

When you’re ready to get started, take a look at how the Iowa MBA can help you reach your potential.

Start right here

Related articles

  1. Salary sources:
  2. 5 Most Popular MBA Concentrations.” Princeton Review.
  3. Andrew Walker, et al. “Corporate Recruiters Survey – 2023 Summary Report.” Graduate Management Admissions Council, July 2023.
  4. Concentrations Data:
  5. How Much Does an MBA Increase Your Salary.” Transparent Career, March 2019.
  6. MBA Degree Salary: 2023 Guide.” Coursera, June 15, 2023.