Report: MBA job market makes a comeback

May 10, 2011: 10:14 AM ET

Members of the class of 2011 have landed more jobs at higher starting salaries than their immediate predecessors, according to a new report.

By John A. Byrne, contributor

(poetsandquants.com) -- It's official: this year's MBA job market has made a dramatic turnaround.

Members of the class of 2011, who will be graduating over the next few weeks, have

Baker Library at Harvard Business School

Baker Library at Harvard Business School

landed more jobs, with slightly more job offers at higher starting salaries, according to new research released today by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

This year, more than half (54%) of the MBA candidates surveyed had a job offer in their pocket by March (when GMAC conducted its research), compared to only 32% last year, an improvement of 22 percentage points.

Newly minted MBAs can expect to earn over $90K in base salary

Salaries are also higher this year. New B-school hires in the United States can expect to earn an average base salary of $91,433, up from $89,141 last year and $86,299 in 2009, GMAC says. This compares with $50,180 for graduates with just a bachelor's degree. In Europe, MBAs can expect to pull down slightly higher base salaries -- $91,696 -- while MBAs inAsiacan expect to earn $30,315.

Just as crucial, grads from two-year full-time MBA programs reported a 73% increase in their post-degree base salary compared with what they earned before starting business school, on average. This is an increase from the 64% average salary boost seen by their peers in the class of 2010. It's also the largest increase since 2008, when the MBA boost amounted to 74%.

Job offers increased slightly as well, up to 2.0, on average, from 1.7 last year for two-year, full-time MBA grads. It's the best job offer number for MBAs since 2008, when soon-to-graduate MBAs reported an average of 2.3 offers. Sixty-seven percent of employers represented in the survey expect to hire new MBAs during the coming year, up from 62% in 2010 and 50% in 2009.

The GMAC research confirms several earlier indications that MBA grads from top schools could expect a vastly improved job market ] (see "MBA Jobs: From Dark Days to a Happy Present.") The latest research -- based on two GMAC surveys of second-year students as well as corporate recruiters -- precedes the more specific placement reports from individual schools in the fall.

Moreover, the improved numbers represent B-schools and corporate recruiters across the board, not merely the top 25 or 50 schools, which tend to outperform the industry or the large-scale MBA recruiters that essentially make the market. The survey of students, for example, is based on 4,794 recent or soon-to-be grads at 156 schools. Roughly 20% of the schools are outside theU.S.The survey of corporate recruiters is based on 1,509 responses, representing 905 companies in 51 countries.

"There is a clear connection between the optimism employers are expressing and the improving job prospects business school graduates are seeing," said Dave Wilson, president of GMAC, in a statement. "Organizations need smart managers to deal with challenges -- and they rely on them to seize opportunities."

Part-time and executive MBA candidates have also benefited from the turnaround in the post-business school job market.

"The positive upturn in the percentage of part-time MBA graduates with job offers (55%), in fact, has surpassed the height of offers previously recorded in 2001 (51%)," the GMAC report said. "Executive MBA students (47%) fell short of the highest recorded percentage in 2007 (56%), but were twice as likely as the class of 2010 to have a job offer in hand."

GMAC reported that increased hiring was most notable in manufacturing, non-profit/government, high tech, finance and accounting, and the products and services sectors. But the hiring picture overall is looking significantly rosier than it has been in the recent past.

"Viewed in terms of employment offers, the bottom of the 2008–2010 downturn was about as deep as that in 2003, but the subsequent recovery has been a quicker climb for the current class," the GMAC report said. "Job offers to two-year full-time MBA graduates (57%) have increased from 2010 levels and appear to have recovered to pre-recessionary levels."

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