MBA Jobs Emerging in Non-Traditional Sectors

Lauren Williams's picture

New real-time insight from workforce research firm Burning Glass finds that employer demand for MBA's is robust across the American economy in both traditional and non-traditional sectors. While the number of generalized MBA programs vastly outnumbers the specialized programs available today, the research shows that MBA jobs typically have distinct specializations, with marked differences in skill requirements. The research also documents the strong demand for MBA's in non-traditional industries, including education, public administration, and health care. Notably, non-traditional sectors now account for nearly 20 percent of the MBA job market.

"While the MBA job market is strong, the specialized nature of MBA job requirements suggest that specialized programs may better position students to meet the demands of today's openings," said Matt Sigelman , CEO of Burning Glass. "The skills that employers require of MBA's vary across region, city, industry and job function, putting into question the very notion of the value of a traditional 'one-size-fits-all' MBA."  

Highlights from the report:

  • MBA jobs require specialization, while the majority of MBA programs are generalist
    • Most students enroll in MBA programs designed with a generalist focus, but MBA jobs often require specialized experience along with a focused educational background. The majority of these jobs fall into one of four functional categories:
      • Marketing and sales
      • Finance and accounting
      • Management and operations
      • IT and computers
  • Even jobs within functional categories see substantial differences in skill requirements
    • For example, 4 of the top 10 skills demanded of Financial Analysts in 2012 are absent from the top 10 list for Financial Managers. Similar differences are seen between common jobs within other functional categories.
  • There is strong demand for MBA graduates in non-traditional sectors
    • Nearly 20 percent of MBA job postings fall into sectors not traditionally thought to demand MBA graduates, including public administration, health care, and education.
    • The skills MBA's bring with them may be changing the way these sectors think. For example, in the education sector there has been substantial growth in demand across the board for forecasting and business intelligence skills while public administration jobs now commonly specify experience with business process and business administration.
    • However, while MBA's may find work in these sectors to be rewarding, the salaries advertised for MBA's in non-traditional sectors are lower than for other MBA opportunities. 
      • Compared to an average advertised salary of MBA's across all industries of $90,511, MBA's in the educational services sector make an average of $70,577 and MBA's in the public administration sector make an average of$87,123.
  • Demand for MBA's is greatest in high-tech hubs
    • In 2012, San Jose had 96 MBA job postings per 10,000 residents – nearly double any other major city. BostonSan Francisco and Seattle followed with between 40 and 50 postings per 10,000 residents.
    • Hiring in these high-tech hubs may be changing the profile of MBA hiring, as high tech companies put considerably more focus on attracting MBA's for jobs involving product marketing and product development, while deemphasizing the finance and accounting skills that characterize many MBA jobs in other cities.
  • Different cities demand different kinds of MBA's
    • In Chicago, demand for MBA's in Finance and Accounting is comparable to demand for MBA's in Marketing and Sales.
    • By contrast, in San Jose, MBA positions in Marketing and Sales outpace Finance and Accounting positions by a 3:1 ratio.
    • Even the skills required for the same MBA job can vary considerably by city. 

"Our research has shown that the breadth of employers requesting MBA candidates is broadening," said Sigelman. "Non-traditional industries also have non-traditional employers. For example, in the education sector major employers include for-profit universities such as University of Phoenix, which are playing an increasingly important role in the higher education landscape. Additionally, demand for MBA's is strong at many large universities – such as Stanford and Harvard – that are better known for producing MBA's than for hiring them."

Burning Glass tools track and identify labor market trends in real time by analyzing millions of online job postings. Burning Glass collects job postings from over 22,000 sources including both job boards and employer and recruiter sites – including thousands of small- and mid-sized employer sites – to capture a comprehensive picture of employer demand for talent. Then, using industry-leading artificial intelligence text mining technology, it identifies attributes such as job titles, employers, skill and qualification requirements, and advertised salaries for each posting. For this report, Burning Glass analyzed nearly 300,000 online job postings from 2012 that called for an MBA.

About Burning Glass
Since 1999, Burning Glass has brought together job-seekers and open jobs. By developing technologies that deliver intuitive and actionable insight across a range of functions, including workforce and economic development, career exploration and counseling, as well as job matching, Burning Glass helps the supply (job-seekers) find the demand (open jobs), and vice versa. Its pioneering solutions leverage a deep understanding of people and their careers in order to deliver superior workforce and marketplace insight. The patented artificial intelligence engine that powers Burning Glass learns from actual career patterns, delivering real-time awareness of how and when people move from job to job, and the kinds of skills and experiences that lead to successful placement.