Most people who pursue an MBA know their main career options: finance and banking.
These careers continually draw MBA graduates because they are stable, high-paying (an entry level financial advisor can make over $100,000 per year), and dependable careers in the field, and are typically seen as being among the top 10 MBA careers to have.
But what if a traditional MBA-path career isn’t appealing to you?
With so many new sectors hiring MBA graduates, the options with your degree are expanding rapidly. Fields like sports, social media and even boutique retail are interested in employing MBA holders for their business expertise and ability to manage information and people.
These MBA careers are outside the traditional box and provide fresh and exciting options for MBA graduates who aren’t attracted to more traditional options.
1. Sports Data Analyst – $125,000 per year
For people who love sports and sports statistics, this position is the perfect match. Sports teams hire sports data analysts to analyze data in order to identify patterns to help the team improve. This information helps teams with strategy, including on-field/court moves and hiring players and coaches.
USA Today reports that data analysts as an umbrella category of business jobs can make $125,000 per year right out of school. The sports team’s prestige and level will determine the salary for a sports data analyst, but someone working for a team in a league like the NBA or MLB can expect to make this much and more. Because data analysts are in hot demand right now in all fields, this career easily tops this list of the top 10 MBA careers outside the traditional box.
2. Sports Team Manager/Developer – $110,000 per year
Working for a professional sports team has an appeal for anyone who loves sports and has strong communication and management skills. Earning an MBA teaches you those skills, so if you love sports, there are positions available for professional teams at all levels in management and development. A sports team manager/developer is responsible for helping the team with marketing and development, ensuring its financial success.
According to BusinessWeek, this position starts at between $95,000 to $110,000 per year. Of course, the higher up in sports you go and the more popular the team is for which you work, the more money you can make.
3. Federal / State Government Manager – $100,000 per year
These managers are usually in charge of specific government programs. Since federal and state government programs range from environmental initiatives to assistance to military veterans to educational programs in school systems, the range of options is quite large. Whatever your interests are outside your MBA, you can combine those with the skills you learned at your MBA program and work as a public servant.
4. Business Development Director – $95,000 per year
MBA graduates are valued in architecture and design firms, IT companies, and biotechnology companies, just to name a few. Companies in all sectors are in need of business development directors to help plan and implement business strategies for the entire company. Marketing, advertising, and consulting skills are needed in this job as well as the ability to work well with others, all skills that are earned through an MBA program.
5. Luxury Retail Marketing Strategist – $78,000 per year
Helping small, boutique business owners with their marketing strategies can be a very rewarding career. Marketing strategists for small businesses can work directly for a luxury business (like a clothing store, for example) or can work for a consulting firm. Ambitious strategists can also start their own consulting or marketing firm that’s geared toward securing small businesses as clients. The size and location of the business really determine salary.
Salary.com estimates that marketing managers/strategists who work at small businesses make about $78,000 per year, but the pay could be significantly less or more than that average.
6. Small Business Owner – $75,000 per year
Owning a small business can be a sustainable career choice for some MBA graduates.
Of course, it takes a lot of know-how and an attractive product or service to stay afloat. According to Business Know How, 29 percent of small business owners make between $50,000 and $75,000 per year. There are many small business owners who make less than this and many who make more than this, but if your business is moderately successful and doesn’t fail or struggle, you can expect to make about $75,000 per year from it. These small businesses have less than 10 employees. Think of food trucks and tiny boutique stores with regular business hours.
7. Technical Writer – $65,000 per year
Pairing writing skills with technical knowledge in a specific field can turn into a career. Technical writers work on writing projects of varying lengths, including articles, manuals, and press releases, to convey a company’s message and research/data to the public. Fields that demand technical writers include technology, engineering, and science.
If you came to your MBA program with a background in any of these subjects, becoming a technical writer for a company or writing firm could be a great career option that’s outside the traditional box.
8. Social Media Strategist – $60,000 per year
Companies know that having social media presence is key to getting out the word about their products and services. If you have a knack for managing social media content and helping companies with their social media campaigns, becoming a social media strategist might be an enjoyable career.
The salary range varies greatly from region to region.
For example, in New York, social media strategists can make over $100,000 per year, while in Phoenix, Arizona, social media strategists only make between $36,000 and $68,000 per year, according to Onward Search.
9. Non-Profit Manager – $60,000 per year
Non-profit organizations not only need passionate employees who care about the organization’s mission, but they also need highly trained managers to develop and maintain various programs. Someone with an MBA is a great fit for a non-profit.
All of the skills needed to succeed as a non-profit manager are learned in an MBA program: data analysis, effective communication, problem solving, and working on teams.
10. Real Estate Investor- varies greatly
Real estate investors put their money into properties and make a profit by either re-selling those properties or keeping them as rental units.
Real estate markets are drastically different across various US regions, so there’s no average salary or profit potential. Plus, the more investments you have, the greater the risk you are taking to either make or lose money. Becoming a real estate investor takes initial capital and a desire to take risks. Even though this career is last on this list of top 10 MBA careers, it has great potential to make someone a lot of cash.
Except where noted, all salary data was provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Payscale.com.