MBA Salary: An Hourly Wage Perspective

Business school students and prospective students: we’ve all thought about ROI (return on investment) of our degree. Maybe, if we’re smart, we’ve thought about work/life balance. But what are really the best bets career-wise for freshly minted MBAs?

At TransparentMBA, we provide deep, rich, customizable data on MBA salary and satisfaction for the jobs business students care about most. Our 24,000+ data points have unlocked some rich insights about top MBA compensation and satisfaction by industry. But we saw the need for one, simple metric to answer the question of post-MBA salary vs. work-life balance.

Enter our new Work/Life Insights Dashboard (coming soon!). By taking average hours/week and comparing this with MBA compensation data, we cast MBA jobs in a new light: by effective hourly wage. Let’s see what insights this first-of-its-kind report has to show…

USD/hour of exiting MBA students (1st job post-MBA only). User-reported.

Investment Management still rules the roost: With lower hours worked relative to banking and massive compensation packages, MBA jobs in Investment Management topped out the list a stunning $120/hour.

Tech continues to impress: Already heating up as a viable industry for exiting MBAs, Tech placed in at #3 (e-commerce) and #5 (software) on our first ranking with an average of about $100/hour effective salary.

Consulting and I-banking fall to the middle despite generous overall compensation, Investment Banking (#11, $66/hour) and Consulting (#9, $70/hour) jobs fell due to high overall hours worked. However, these jobs will no doubt continue to be in high demand based on ancillary benefits like excellent training and sheer volume of jobs.

With this powerful data, we can start to explore the biggest question facing all current and prospective students: is an MBA worth it?

Well, our average post-MBA offer clocks in at about $75/hour, representing an average total compensation of over $200,000/year for MBA graduates and an average of 59 hours worked per week. That’s a hefty sum, but so is tuition: this Poets & Quants article claims that 4 top-tier MBA programs now estimate total costs at over $200K, with the median net of scholarships around $171,000. Ouch.

Using this data as a benchmark and the Federal Unsubsidized Stafford rate of 6.84%, an MBA graduate would have to work 62 weeks to pay back the loan plus interest. And that’s not even considering the opportunity cost of not working during a full-time MBA, something touched on nicely in this article by Investopedia.

Of course, on average, MBAs will only hold their post-degree job for 3.8 years, presumably increasingly their salary on a yearly basis, so maybe it’s a wash. But it sure does make those sponsored consultants look good…

Visit TransparentMBA here and input your own compensation and satisfaction data — from a past job, MBA internship, or even a job offer — to access our full suite of dashboards.

Kevin is a full-time MBA student at Chicago Booth, growth hacker, and occasional blogger. Reach him with questions or concerns, compliments or insults at

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