When you’re thinking of what an MBA can bring to your life, chances are you’re weighing the prospect of your future employment and salary heavily. After all, most people tackle an MBA in order to make themselves more marketable to future employers and to increase their potential earnings within their chosen field. The typical cost of an MBA degree is generally between $60,000 and $100,000, so it’s important to weigh the costly tuition against your potential future earnings.

If you’ve been dreaming about going to business school, but don’t yet have a specialization in mind, it’s a good idea to take a look at which specializations yield the highest salaries after graduation. The business world has become extremely competitive and having a specialization in addition to your MBA degree shows that you’re serious about your chosen field and committed to doing everything you can to ensure your knowledge is current, relevant, and as in-depth as possible.

What are specializations?

Before we get into the specializations that have the highest salary opportunities post-grad, let’s make sure we all know what a specialization is.

When you’re accepted to an MBA program, most schools will ask you to pick a specialization after your first year or semester of general studies. Depending on where you’re enrolled, specializations can also be called majors or concentrations. Some schools don’t offer specializations, instead insisting that all students take the same course of study regardless of their individual interests.

If you attend a program that offers specializations, they’re a great way to build on your general education. You’ll likely take classes for your specialization in the latter half of your program, after first taking several general courses. Each different specialization focuses on a different aspect of business. In fact, several of the most popular are accounting, marketing, and finance. However, there are other specializations that can offer higher salaries later in your career.

Here are some of the most lucrative specializations offered today.

1. Strategy

With global business strategies changing so frequently, being able to see the big picture is an incredibly valuable skill. Getting your MBA with a specialization in strategy shows that you’re interested in being a part of important management decisions and are able to see the long-term impact of these choices. This specialization is a great choice for people who are already employed as it shows that you’re serious about the long-term future of your company. However, it’s also a good choice for people who want to work as a consultant, either with an agency or independently.

The median salary for an independent management consultant is around $85,000 per year, and talented senior consultants can earn up to $160,000+ plus bonuses. If you’re working within a corporation, a strategy specialization will allow you to take positions like product manager or director of strategy, which can offer salaries as high as $177,000.

2. Technology Management

One of the fastest growing industries in the world is the tech sector. Companies that are forced to innovate at a rapid pace are always looking for talented staff to help manage their products and develop the next big idea.

Even if you’re not working within the tech sector, all major companies now require experts who understand technology and are able to help ensure their operations are as streamlined and secure as possible. An MBA specialization in technology management is the perfect choice for someone who already has hands-on knowledge but needs more instruction on the management side of the industry.

The median IT director salary sits around $85,000 and can climb to $130,000 depending on the company. If you want to work independently, an IT consultant can take home as much as $119,000 per year.

3. Entrepreneurship

One of the best ways that you can support your good ideas with an educational foundation is by getting an MBA with a specialization in entrepreneurship. This specialization can help you develop the skills necessary to take a good idea and grow it into a profitable business. For some people, this specialization is the perfect stepping stone to opening their own business, and at that point, there’s no telling what they could achieve as many entrepreneurs have turned simple ideas into multi-billion dollar industries.

The salary expectations for self-employed entrepreneurs varies widely, but if you’re looking to take your knowledge and join a company that’s already in existence, you could work as a consultant, product manager, or business development manager, making up to $121,000 per year.

4. Finance

Finance is known as an industry where a high percentage of the workforce already has an MBA. As such, an MBA with a specialization in finance is a necessity because if you don’t have this specialization, it’s hard to prove to employers that you’re serious about staying in the field. So, in order to succeed in the industry and ensure meaningful employment, you’ll need to figure out a way to stand out from the crowd.

With this specialization, you’d be looking at starting as a finance manager, with an average salary of $89,000. The eventual endpoint is an appointment to VP Finance or even CFO. Salaries for CFOs start around $71,000 and can rise to astronomical heights. Every company needs financial expertise, so even if you’re not interested in working for one of the Fortune 500 companies, it’s still a good bet.

5. Marketing

Marketing is becoming much more than writing quippy catchphrases. It’s now an integral aspect of customer relations and is intertwined with customer service and retention in a huge way.

As such, marketing is a unique field that requires hopeful entrants to excel in several different aspects of business, including communications, technology, analytics, and management. Although it’s not necessary to have an MBA to get hired in a lower-level marketing job, it is becoming more popular within the field as having it makes you a much more appealing applicant for higher-level positions.

Mid-level positions like marketing manager typically pay around $63,000 per year, with a massive jump once you reach upper-level management, where the salaries start around $84,000 and top out around $200,000.

6. Economics

Every corporation needs staff with an expert understanding of business economics in order to ensure that company finances are handled properly. Even the smallest company has at least one staff member responsible for the organization’s finances.

Typically, an MBA in economics gives you access to jobs in financial analysis or financial management, where the median salary currently sits around $89,000. However, the more you ascend the corporate ladder, the greater your expertise, and promotions to positions like VP Finance are possible. Currently, the average salary for that job start around $133,000 and can top $200,000.

7. General Business

Even though specializations are important, there are times where people going back to school need to have general knowledge of everything without spending time getting mired in specifics. A general business specialization allows you to divide your attention among many subjects, so you have a well-rounded background after graduation.

Students who graduate with a general business MBA are eligible for almost any job and will be able to offer extremely high value to companies based on their education as well as their previous interests. For example, an engineer with an MBA is extremely valuable because they already have knowledge of the industry, and now have up-to-date knowledge on business, financial, and management practices that will help the company succeed. Any person with expert knowledge and a general business MBA makes a great candidate for any director or VP position.

zimmytws / Shutterstock