Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

What are the highest paying MBA careers?

Which MBAs do recruiters want most?

Some of the most highly paid MBAs are individuals who already have an advanced degree in medicine, law or the sciences. They choose to earn a graduate business degree to enhance their business management skills and complement their existing field of knowledge.

Over the course of an MBA's career, the top-ranked MBA programs generally produce the most highly paid graduates. According to a study sponsored by Bloomburg Businessweek that was conducted by employment research company PayScale, MBAs from the top 45 business schools in the United States will make over $2.5 million in base pay and bonuses over the course of a 20-year career. The study found that the median pay for MBAs with less than two years on the job from Harvard Business School is $133,000 a year, with lifetime compensation of about $3.9 million; grads from the University of Iowa's Tipple College of Business earn $62,000 a year, with lifetime compensation of about $1.9 million [source: Harris].

Once an MBA employee gets hired, however, earnings potential varies from industry to industry. Traditionally, some of the highest paying MBA careers have been in investment banking and financial services, but career opportunities and pay structures in those industries are changing rapidly. Health care, technology and energy-related positions are becoming more attractive, as demand for qualified leaders and problem-solvers in those areas increases. Salaries vary even within disciplines: Marketing and human resources executives typically earn less than financial or operational officers.

The good news is that over the last few years, graduates with MBAs have found opportunities in a greater variety of fields than in the past. And entrepreneurs are finding that the skills learned in an MBA program can help them turn great ideas into successful companies [source: Morgan].

What's the bottom line here? The pursuit of an MBA degree can help you put another feather in your cap, build important skills, gain practical experience and make valuable connections that can help maximize your income potential over the length of your career.

For more information on graduate school and careers, take a look at the links on the next page.