MBA Career Survey: 'The long-term shows the value of MBAs'

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The Independent Online

Graduates from accredited MBA programmes receive an average salary increase of 18 per cent after graduation, according to the latest Career Survey by the Association of MBAs (AMBA).

Graduates from accredited MBA programmes receive an average salary increase of 18 per cent after graduation, according to the latest Career Survey by the Association of MBAs (AMBA).

The survey demonstrates that MBA graduates can still expect salary increases ahead of average earnings, but the rise is less than half what it was in the late 1990s.

AMBA's survey in 2002 reported average salary increases of 39 per cent immediately after graduation.

Three to five years after graduation, however, the new survey shows that salaries increase by an average of 53 per cent against salary before the MBA, as people move into more senior managerial roles or board positions.

Graduates from accredited programmes now earn an average base salary of £66,500. Twelve per cent of survey respondents earn over £100,000, while five per cent earn less than £30,000.

"It is the longer-term trend which shows the value of the MBA," says Carl Tams, AMBA intelligence unit manager, who produced the survey. More than 25,000 graduates from accredited MBA programmes between 1967 and 2003 were invited to take part in the association's sixth career survey, and 1,117 graduates, the majority from the 1990s, responded.

"Given the fact that MBAs have been getting a bad press, the most encouraging thing is that there is still evidence that the salaries of MBA graduates increase beyond average earning levels, and continue to rise in the three to four years after graduation," says Jeanette Purcell, AMBA chief executive.

"There was an unrealistic boom in the 90s, and we are now seeing a more sensible market. What is more interesting at the moment is the way in which the MBA is changing, in terms of types of course and students enrolling."

The survey reflects the popularity of distance learning MBAs, and growing numbers of people opting for part-time MBAs (14 per cent of respondents). Part-timers tend to be older (mid-thirties and upwards), with 10 or more years' work experience behind them.

"Part-time MBAs are looking to be the MBAs of the future," says Purcell. "It is a huge risk to give up a job for a full-time course, and part-time MBAs give people an opportunity to earn while they learn. Employers are often keen because they retain good employees while giving them extra stimulation."

But the rise in part-time MBAs is not mirrored by an equivalent rise in the number of women enrolling.

"That is quite a worrying finding for our survey," admits Purcell. "Part-time and distance learning should be helping, but we are still not seeing a shift in the proportion of women doing MBAs. I think the timing of the MBA is just not appropriate for women: most people take it in their late 20s, early 30s, which is just the time when women are having their families."

MBA graduates are increasingly working in the public sector, the survey shows. Thirty-five per cent of respondents had experience in the public sector, and of these, 59 per cent saw their future career remaining in the public sector.

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