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Part of Western Governors University

Career Guide | Master of Business Administration

A Master of Business Administration degree will prepare you for a career in business leadership.

A raise, promotion, or new career could be within your reach. Discover how an MBA can help you take your career to the next level and become a successful business leader. Direct a team, lead an organization, and drive business success with the skills and credentials you'll get with your MBA. If you're ready to take your career to the next level, see how an MBA can help.

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Manager

Average Salary—$95,000 per year | Job Outlook—7% growth by 2028

Every team, department, and organization needs good managers to help the company thrive. Usually in an organization there will be many different managers—sales managers, product managers, operations managers, project managers, and more. Managers are in charge of directing teams, creating goals and helping everyone reach them, overseeing individual tasks as well as the larger objective, and helping everyone on their team be successful. Managers often report to higher-level executives on progress, and are an important part in making sure an organization has a good flow of communication and delegation of tasks. 

Management occupations earn an average annual salary of $95,000. The lowest 10% earn about $48,000 per year, while the top 10% earn more than $149,000 per year. The amount of money you can earn will largely depend on your industry and specialty. For example, food service managers may make less than sales managers.

Management positions are expected to grow about 7% by 2028, which is about as fast as the national average. Management positions tend to have lower turnover, which is why the growth rate isn't higher. Once you're in a management position, you typically stay in a management position. This is why it is key to get a degree that can help set you apart from the competition for these jobs. 

For most management positions, a master's degree will be required to even apply for the job. Executives want to know that their managers are trained in communication, business practices, and management and leadership styles and strategies. An MBA is a great choice for helping you prepare for a management position. In an MBA program you'll gain fundamental business skills, learn about communication and strategy, and practice leadership theories and styles. This will help you lead times and influence employees successfully. 

Group looking at computer

Director

Average Salary—$104,000 per year | Job Outlook—6% growth by 2028

Every business in every industry has a hierarchy of leadership. Typically this will look like managers, directors, and executive leaders. Directors will often run entire departments, and have managers below them that help run specific teams and groups. Directors work closely with the executive team, reporting on successes and struggles, giving an overall picture of what the team is doing and how they can improve.

Directors earn an average annual salary of around $104,000 per year. The bottom 10% of directors earn about $62,000 per year while the top 10% can earn more than $200,000 per year. The industry where you work, the size of your team and department, and your location are all key components in determining how much you can earn as a director. 

Director positions are expected to grow 6% by 2028. It's common for higher levels in an organization to see lower turnover, meaning fewer positions tend to be available. However, these positions are still opening up at a fairly consistant rate, meaning for someone with the right education, an opportunity is sure to come.

Most director level positions will require you to have a master's degree to be qualified. An MBA is a great degree choice for those interested in pursuing business leadership roles. An MBA program will give you courses in accounting, finance, leadership, strategy, and communication. These courses will help you be prepared for leading teams in diverse industries and fields. 

Leader writing at white board in conference room

COO

Average Salary—$143,000 per year | Job Outlook—6% growth by 2028

The COO or Chief Operating Officer plays a critical role on the executive team of an organizaiton. They oversee the administrative function and day-to-day operations of the entire organization. They have directors and entire departments that ultimately report to them. They help communicate the goals, strategies, and projects that different teams need to accomplish. They work with the other executive team members to analyze what needs to be improved and adjusted in their organization for greater success.

COOs earn an average of $143,000 per year, with the bottom 10% earning around $72,000 per year, and the top 10% earning more than $240,000 per year. A COO of a larger company can expect to earn much more than a COO of a smaller company. The industry where you work and the location where you live are also key in determining your salary level.

COO positions are expected to grow 6% by 2028, as fast as the national average. There is a bit of competition for executive level positions, so it's important to get as much education and experience as possible to help you stand out from the comeptition and get a COO position.

An MBA will be critical for landing a COO position. Most executive level positions will require a master's degree before a candidate can even apply. An MBA will help demonstrate your skills in business, leadership, communication, and strategy. This degree can help you stand apart from the competition, and demonstrate you have the business know-how and leadership skills to thrive.

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CFO

Average Salary—$140,000 per year | Job Outlook—6% growth by 2028

The CFO or Chief Financial Officer is in charge of all the budget and monetary elements of an organization. They focus on cash flow, financial planning and goals, and analyze the company financial strengths and weaknesses, proposing solutions to problems. They oversee other directors and managers to ensure all of the financial operations of the company are being done honestly and ethically. The CFO works with other executives to help distribute budgets and explain the financial situation of the organization. 

CFOs earn an average of $140,000 per year, with the bottom 10% earning around $75,000 per year, and the top 10% earning more than $223,000 per year. The salary level you can expect as a CFO will vary largely based on the size of the organization where you work, and the industry. For example, a CFO in an oil company will likely have much higher salaries than a CFO in a nonprofit organization.

CFO positions are expected to grow 6% by 2028, similar to other executive level positions and as fast as the national average. Chief financial officers can face competition for available positions, so it's valuable to work your way up in an organization so you're prepared to take on the role of a CFO.

An MBA is a great degree option for those interested in becoming a CFO. An MBA can build on your financial background and help you gain crucial leadership and communication skills. It can help you prepare to lead a team and influence decisions on a higher level, and help you stand out from the competiton. 

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CEO

Average Salary—$184000 per year | Job Outlook—6% growth by 2028

The Chief Executive Officer or CEO plays a critical role in an organization. The CEO is the highest ranking member of an organization and oversees the entire organization and the work that is being done. Other directors and executives often report directly to the CEO to show what work is being done, what improvements are being made, how sales and services are performing, and more. The CEO helps regulate budgets, operations, marketing, and the entire strategy of the organization along with the other chief executives. They usually have the final say in what an organization will do, and are vital to success.

CEOs earn an average annual salary of around $184,000 per year. The bottom 10% of CEOs earn about $120,000 per year, and the top 10% can earn more than $270,000 per year. The size of the organization where you are CEO will play the largest factor in your salary level.

CEO positions are expected to grow 6% by 2028, on pace with the national average. CEOs have lower turnover rates, making it more competitive to land a position. However there are still many opportunities for those who want to move up and take their career to the next level.

For most CEO positions, a master's degree will be required. An MBA is an ideal choice for those wanting to become a CEO, as it gives you important insight into all the functions of business, and will help you become a better leader. Strategy, communication, and management are all important elements of an MBA program, and are great skills you can develop as part of your study. You will be prepared to steer the ship of an organization with the skills you learn during your MBA program.