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What is the current state of

MBA hiring around the world?
QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

Introduction 3

Fast Facts 4

MBA Recruitment Trends by Region 5

MBA Salary Levels by Region 8

MBA Salary and Recruitment Levels by Industry 12

Job Functions 14

Regional Guides 15

ıı US & Canada 15

ıı Western Europe 16

ıı Asia-Pacific 17

ıı Eastern Europe & Central Asia 18

ıı Latin America 19

ıı Middle East & Africa 20

For What are Employers Looking 21

ıı MBA Skills 21

ıı MBA Specializations 22

ıı Work Experience 23

Sample of Employers 24

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

Since 1990, the QS Intelligence Unit, working with TopMBA.com, has carried out an
annual survey of MBA employers across the globe, to identify trends in international
MBA salaries and recruitment. This forms the basis of the QS TopMBA.com Jobs &
Salary Trends Report, the longest-established and most comprehensive review of its

The 2018 edition of the report is based on responses from 3,463 employers across
the globe, each of which has provided us with information on current and future MBA
hiring and salary levels. Figures were reported in 2017 and cover the 2016-17 hiring
period. All salary figures are in USD.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

Fast Facts
ıı 2017 a good year for MBA hiring levels, with a 13% increase reported globally.

ıı Asia-Pacific posts the strongest growth at 18%, with mature markets in US & Canada
and Western Europe both registering 10% – comfortably in excess of employers’
conservative predictions.

ıı Slight slowdown predicted in 2018 and 2019.

ıı MBA salary levels increase after dip in 2016; MBA employers in the US & Canada are
the most generous ($98,900, increasing to $116,300 with bonus), pulling away from
Western Europe ($85,500, increasing to $101,300).

ıı Highest MBA salaries on offer in Switzerland ($123,500), followed by US ($102,100).

France ($98,500) and UK ($92,400) are next best performers in Europe. Australia
leads the way in Asia-Pacific ($98,400), followed by Japan ($80,000).

ıı Sales/business development, finance and general management most commonly

offered roles.

ıı Strong growth across industry sectors, showing MBAs are in demand from a diverse
range of employers. Growth in jobs in financial services still slower, but salaries on
offer are highest ($97,100 – US & Canada and Western Europe only).

ıı Employers want more from MBA hires in terms of leadership and soft skills.

ıı Greatest proportion of employers looking for 3-5 or 1-3 years’ experience.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

MBA Recruitment
Trends by Region
MBA Recruitment Levels

+10% +10% +12%

US & Canada Western Europe Eastern Europe



Africa & Middle East
Latin America

Growth in MBA hiring levels has comfortably exceeded expectations this year, with
employers in every region reporting higher-than-expected levels of recruitment. This
is particularly notable in the mature markets of US & Canada and Western Europe,
where modest predictions are dwarfed by 10% growth in both regions.

In the case of the US & Canada, this is a continuation of consecutive years of strong
growth; predictions of more modest growth have not been borne out, though this
year’s figure represents a slight slowdown. Perhaps the unexpected political events
that rocked the US and the world have led employers to reassess their hiring needs.
We may also be seeing employers err on the side of caution when looking ahead, in
a world where the events of a decade ago have not yet been forgotten. Following
this theme, once again, predictions for next year represent a slowdown, albeit not as
severe as that forecast in previous editions of this research. Confidence is tempered
by uncertainty.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

In Western Europe the repercussions of the Great Recession were felt for longer, but
recent years have seen more positive figures reported by survey respondents. 2016
saw growth at a slower rate of 4%, with moderated expectations for 2017 – possibly on
the back of political events in the UK. Once again, the reality has been more positive,
with raised expectations next year. The figure is not huge, but the fact that is in excess
of 5% is notable in itself. Stronger growth across the eurozone, which outpaced the
US for the first time since 2008, has clearly finally instilled a degree of confidence. The
shifting landscape of Europe looks set to create more opportunities for MBAs.

Predicted MBA Hiring Levels

2018 +7% 2018 +7% 2018 +3%

2019 +2% 2019 +5% 2019 -3%
US & Canada Western Europe Eastern Europe
2018 +7%
2019 +2%

2018 +6% Asia-Pacific

2019 +4%


2018 -2%
2018+9% 2019 +10%
2019 +10%
Africa & Middle East
Latin America

Outside of the two most-mature markets, we see the Asia-Pacific MBA boom continue,
with an incredible 18% increase in hiring. Driven by, but by no means limited to, India
and China, to which we can add the established markets of Japan, Australia, Singapore
and Hong Kong, and the up-and-coming ASEAN, there seems to be an insatiable
appetite for MBAs in the region. Interestingly, we see predictions fall to match Western
levels next year, which we might read as a sign of growing maturity in the region,
as hiring levels reach a more sustainable level. The region’s growth remains strong,
however, so it would not be too great a shock to see expectations exceeded once

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

Latin America has also had a second-consecutive strong year (2016 was an Olympic
year for its largest economy, Brazil). While overall economic growth has slowed, the
region finds itself in a relatively stable position as compared to the turn of the century.
Accordingly, MBA employers are still looking to bolster their ranks, albeit from a lower
base. Predictions for 2018 are resilient, despite potential political complications faced
by key-MBA hiring ground Mexico.

In Eastern Europe & Central Asia (EECA) and Middle East & Africa alike, we see the
most worrying figures in this year’s analysis: a forecasted contraction in hiring. For
now, however, the picture is more positive. While some of the EECA’s larger economies
have endured difficult years, many smaller nations enjoyed better fortunes. In a less-
mature hiring region, this has been sufficient to see a bump in hiring levels. Mixed
fortunes across the huge and varied region of the Middle East & Africa – fluctuating
oil prices and unrest, offset by growth peppered across various oil-importing nations
– ultimately delivers, in line with the rest of the world, yet another solid growth figure.

And that seems to be the prevailing theme in this year’s data. Despite the uncertainty
and challenges faced across the globe, employers are seeking MBA talent in greater
numbers than ever before. Indeed, it is to these leaders that organizations are turning
to steer them through challenging times.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

MBA Salary Levels

by Region
MBA Salary Levels

country 2017 2016

Africa & Middle East $78,200 $67,500

Asia-Pacific $71,300 $69,300

Eastern Europe & Central Asia $57,000 $49,500

Latin America $62,500 $58,800

US & Canada $98,900 $91,300

Western Europe $85,500 $81,100

Total MBA Compensation 2016-17

country 2017 2016

Africa & Middle East $90,700 $89,400

Asia-Pacific $85,900 $89,000

Eastern Europe & Central Asia $69,100 $73,400

Latin America $75,900 $72,300

US & Canada $116,300 $118,500

Western Europe $101,300 $98,400

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

This year marks a return to close to the six-figure mark for basic MBA salary in the
US & Canada, after last year’s slight dip. Even with this taken into consideration, the
spiritual home of the MBA still comfortably led the pack in salary terms last year. This
has been accentuated by this year’s full return to form, a hair’s breadth from 2015’s
record-high MBA salary figure. If you have money on your mind, then anglophone
(and francophone) North America is the place to go. Bonus packages, however, are
not quite as generous as in previous iterations of QS MBA salary research, meaning
that we see total compensation take a slight hit. With a figure that remains close to
$120,000 this hardly will require any tightening of the belt.

MBA salary levels have not increased by same amount in Western Europe, nor quite
recovered to the level seen in 2015 or the two preceding years (in 2013, reported levels
were even in touching distance of the US & Canada). The trend is positive however,
with a healthy figure around $85,000, pulled over the six-figure mark when bonus
figures are taken into consideration. This steady growth represents a stabilization
after the volatility of preceding years.

In Asia-Pacific, MBA salary levels continue on a steady upward trend (though not in
excess of the anomalously high figure reported in 2014), reflecting the long-term
ongoing strengthening of the region. Overall compensation is somewhat down, but
this reflects the relative unpredictability of bonus levels as much as anything, with new
countries and industries entering a booming, but still-young MBA hiring market.

In EECA, we see improved MBA salary offers tempered by stable compensation levels
– a shift from performance-related bonus to basic salary can be taken as a sign of
increased confidence from employers. Unfortunately, total compensation is down
somewhat on last year’s figure. We see the same phenomenon in the Middle East
& Africa, where it is even more pronounced (though the trend is positive for overall
compensation), though this seems more a consequence of volatility in a small employer
pool. Nonetheless, the salary data reported this year show that a fine figure can be
commanded in the region. Latin America leaves us with fewer talking points, but a
happy story, with a slight bump in both salary and total compensation levels.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

MBA Salary Levels

by Country
country Salary Bonus Overall
Switzerland $123,500 $17,400 $140,900

United States $102,100 $18,800 $120,900

Canada $99,800 $11,300 $111,100

France $98,500 $17,700 $116,200

Australia $98,400 $17,800 $116,200

United Kingdom $92,400 $30,500 $122,900

Italy $86,400 $25,400 $111,800

Singapore $82,700 $22,600 $105,300

Japan $80,000 $26,600 $106,600

Germany $77,200 $16,900 $94,100

Chile $76,300 $18,600 $94,900

India $66,500 $9,800 $76,300

Mexico $66,000 $12,800 $78,800

Russia $65,500 $12,900 $78,400

South Korea $65,000 $10,000 $75,000

Colombia $63,800 $10,800 $74,600

Argentina $63,600 $20,700 $84,300

Peru $58,500 $8,400 $66,900

Hong Kong $58,100 $10,400 $68,500

Brazil $54,600 $13,000 $67,600

Spain $52,500 $16,500 $69,000

Malaysia $52,300 $11,200 $63,500

Uruguay $48,900 $13,200 $62,100

China $42,400 $12,600 $55,000

Taiwan $36,800 $12,000 $48,800

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

If you’re looking to earn the highest-possible MBA salary, you would do well to target
employers in Switzerland, where we see phenomenal salary levels on offer. Elsewhere
in Western Europe, the traditionally strong markets of France and the UK – despite
uncertainty in the latter, and challenging elections in both – post strong salary figures.

In a great year for North American MBA salary levels, the US leapfrogs into second
place in our (non-exhaustive) selection of nations followed by Canada in third place.
Australia, as in previous years, leads the pack in Asia-Pacific, followed by Singapore
and Japan; while the world’s third-largest economy may have endured some tough
years, MBA employers in this established market are still able to offer appealing sums.

Of the Latin America nations featured, we see Chile leading the way, followed by
Mexico. Russia posts a figure comfortably in excess of the EECA average, reflecting its
status as a relatively mature market in the region, despite turbulent times economically

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

MBA Salary and

Recruitment Levels
by Industry

MBA Recruitment Levels by Industry

2017 2018 2019

Technology 13% 5% 2%

Other 15% 5% 3%

Finance 5% 7% 7%

Consulting 11% 14% 3%

MBA Salary Levels by Industry

Technology $89,633

Other $89,675

Finance $97,100

Consulting $90,900

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

Breaking down recruitment levels by industry, we see the ‘other’ grouping – which
takes in everything aside from the three most prominent areas of MBA hiring – has
seen the greatest increase in MBA hiring levels. This reflects a theme evident in the last
few iterations of this research: an increasingly diverse body of employers are seeking
MBA talent. While finance and consulting still account for a good deal of MBA hiring,
there are many more options open to the Millennial generation of MBAs, to whom
traditional paths may not be as appealing. In line with global trends, the next couple of
years look set to be more modest.

Employers in the burgeoning and glamourous technology sector have also posted
confident figures this year, though gradually declining predicted figures over the
next two years suggest that at some point, we may see this bubble burst. Given the
innovation with which the sector is synonymous, there is a degree of unpredictability
we must always take into account.

Growth in consulting is also in double digits. The next few years look to be volatile
ones, however, with a huge spike next year followed by a slower period as the decade
draws to a close. Finance continues to grow at a more modest pace a decade on from
the global financial crisis, though the smaller figure must be read in light of a larger
base in terms of MBA hiring. Slightly more robust growth is forecast over the next two

Salary levels (Western Europe and US & Canada only) are fairly consistent across
industries. Taking into account that averages represent a wide range, the takeaway
here seems again to be that a diverse range of employers are keen to attract MBA
talent, and willing to pay competitive salaries in order to do so. We see a slightly
higher salary level on offer from employers in financial services, as might be expected.
Consulting salaries remain in line with other sectors, as small firms intermingle with
the traditional big industry names, who continue to offer some of the biggest returns

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

Job Functions
Job Functions MBAs Hired into 2017

Strategic Planning 46%

Finance - Other 39%
General Management 38%
Marketing 37%
Consultant 34%
Sales & Development 31%
IT / Technology 28%
Finance - Advisory 22%
Operations / Manufacturing 21%
Supply Chain / Logistics 18%
E-commerce 8%
Other 8%

MBAs are being hired into a diverse range of businesses for a reason: for their
vision, their innovation, and their ability to ultimately help those businesses grow.
Consequently, we see strategic planning leading the list of roles into which MBAs are

MBAs are also valued for their technical skills, with finance roles accounting for a
good deal of hiring, as well as the wide-ranging skills that see consultant and general
management appear towards the upper end of this table of job functions. The battle
for hearts and minds that is marketing also features prominently, with over a third of
respondents hiring MBAs into these roles. And let’s not forget the crucial role MBAs
play in converting the efforts made by a business to profit, evident in the third of
businesses who recruit MBAs into sales roles.

Over a quarter sought MBAs for IT and tech roles; an indication of the centrality that
technology has come to take for businesses, and the status it has come to enjoy on
MBA programs. E-commerce features lower down the list, also. Towards the bottom
end of this scale, though still at significant volumes, we see MBAs being hired for their
ability to make things happen (operations and supply chain).

A huge variety of people, with varied skillsets, study MBAs. This is reflected in the roles
into which they’re hired.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

Regional Guides
US & Canada
US & Canada MBA Recruitment Levels by Industry

2017 2018 2019

Technology 22% 15% 2%

Other 6% 2% 1%

Finance 4% 4% -1%

Consulting 7% 15% 7%

US & Canada MBA Salary Levels

2017 2016
Salary $98,900 $91,300
Total Compensation $116,300 $118,500

Another good year in hiring terms for the birthplace of the MBA, as predictions of
slower growth have been exceeded most comfortably by reality. This has led to
bolder predictions for next year, albeit at a lower rate than 2017, followed by a year of
slower growth in 2019. We may be seeing a touch of conservatism creeping in here,
as employers don’t feel quite ready to commit to higher levels of MBA hiring. We also
need to factor in a more colorful political situation than we have seen in recent history,
which adds a level of unpredictability to proceedings.

It’s tech companies that have become the big names in recent times, and they continue
to recruit apace, with electrifying growth. 2018 looks like it may be another strong
year. Consulting posts solid if unspectacular results, though is set for a bumper 2018,
while finance is slower and even threatens a small contraction in two years (though,
we will see if this comes to fruition).

MBA salary levels have bounced back from a global dip in 2016 to stand at a level close
to the highest we’ve seen reported, and pulling away from the rest of the world.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

Western Europe

Western Europe MBA Recruitment Levels by Industry

2017 2018 2019

Technology 35% 1% 1%

Other 7% 9% 6%

Finance 4% 6% 2%

Consulting 7% 5% 6%

Western Europe MBA Salary Levels

2017 2016
Salary $85,500 $81,100
Total Compensation $101,300 $98,400

We see a convergence this year, as Western Europe matches the US & Canada in 2017
actual hiring levels and 2018’s predicted level. This year’s growth is another case of
expectations being left in the dust, as MBA hiring seems to be at an unexpectedly
buoyant level. Next year’s predicted 7% growth is not spectacular, but notable for the
fact that it is a good deal higher than the 2% that was forecast for 2017.

In a region that took a long time to recover (if it can be said recovery has been full) from
the 2007-2008 crash, this seems to represent a new mood of confidence. This is not
misplaced, with the eurozone outperforming the US for the first time since 2008. With
the UK’s exit from the EU looming, the next few years will be interesting for Europe;
any potential negative effect on MBA hiring in the UK is likely to be to the advantage of
the rest of the continent.

Like the US, tech is what is driving growth here – or we should say, has driven, with
future predictions suggesting the tech names may be seeking to move forward with
the talent they already have on board. Elsewhere, figures are muscular, though with
no real fireworks, and look set to remain this way. Salary has grown at a modest level.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018


Asia-Pacific MBA Recruitment Levels by Industry

2017 2018 2019

Technology 6% 14% 5%

Other 25% 4% 2%

Finance 6% 8% 2%

Consulting 16% 14% 1%

Asia-Pacific MBA Salary Levels

2017 2016
Salary $71,300 $69,300
Total Compensation $85,900 $89,000

Asia-Pacific has been the stand out story in terms of MBA hiring for a few years now,
and this year is no different, with an incredible 18% increase in MBA hiring. While next
year, the feeling seems to be that hiring will be at a more restrained level, equivalent
to Western Europe and the US & Canada, it is perhaps fair to say that it would hardly
register shockwaves if the figure posted was much higher than expected.

While tech has been the key in previous years, we see more down-to-earth figures
reported this year, though next year may be better for Asia-Pacific tech employers.
Consulting has had an excellent year, which may well be followed by another, while
growth in financial services outpaces the West (as is also the case with overall economic
growth). It is the ‘other’ employers that really stood out in 2017, showing that this
maturing market is diversifying.

The only slight negative comes from the fact that MBA salary levels have only crept
up, with total compensation levels actually suffering a slight dip due to reduced bonus
levels. We are, however, nowhere near a crisis.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

Eastern Europe & Central Asia

Eastern Europe & Central Asia MBA Recruitment Levels by Industry

2017 2018 2019

Technology 35% -1% -1%

Other 6% 3% -6%

Finance 6% 11% 0%

Consulting 22% 1% 4%

Eastern Europe & Central Asia MBA Salary Levels

2017 2016
Salary $57,000 $49,500
Total Compensation $69,100 $73,400

The shadow of Russia looms large over this region, but this year’s confident growth
shows that there is more to Eastern Europe & Central Asia than the world’s biggest
country. Indeed, many Eastern European nations enjoyed strong economic growth
over the time period in question, while Russia has stagnated. We see, therefore, 12%
growth, which is slightly higher than even the assured prediction of 10% made last

It should be noted, however, that MBA employers are losing that confidence, with low
growth and even a contraction predicted in coming years. For now, however, we can
happily look to an excellent year for tech and consulting employers in the region.

As in Asia, we’ve seen an increase in MBA salary levels offset by a reduction in bonus
that brings down the total compensation level.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

Latin America

Latin America MBA Recruitment Levels by Industry

2017 2018 2019

Technology 7% -31% -17%

Other 11% 11% 5%

Finance 20% 23% 9%

Consulting 5% 29% 4%

Latin America MBA Salary Levels

2017 2016
Salary $62,500 $58,800
Total Compensation $75,900 $72,300

The economic prospects of Latin American nations may be mixed, but in the world of
MBA jobs, things are actually looking fairly positive. Employers seem to be targeting
MBA talent to help guide them through potentially turbulent times.

This is evidenced in the 11% growth we’ve seen this year, set to be followed by hiring at
a roughly equivalent level for the next two years. The volatility we see across industry
sectors – losses in tech with huge increases in finance and consulting – reflects the
immaturity of the market. If it keeps growing at the confident rate at which it is,
however, we won’t be able to say this for much longer.

We see modest increases in both salary and total compensation levels.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

Middle East & Africa

Middle East & Africa MBA Recruitment Levels by Industry

2017 2018 2019

Technology -2% -30% -12%

Other 3% -3% 1%

Finance 0% 0% 24%

Consulting 13% 11% 0%

Middle East & Africa MBA Salary Levels

2017 2016
Salary $78,200 $67,500
Total Compensation $90,700 $89,400

It’s a slow year in the Middle East & Africa, with the MBA yet to take hold in the same
way as it has in more mature hiring markets. Growth matches the modest predicted
figure, though we may well be looking at an equivalent contraction next year, followed
by a better year in 2019.

Consulting is the strongest sector for the time being, though increased finance hiring
looks set to drive growth in 2019. Tech hiring is due for a particularly rough ride, if
predictions are borne out.

Reported MBA salary levels are high – this reflects the small pool of employers as
much as anything, though also shows that MBA is valued by those employers in the
region who seek it out.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

For What are

Employers Looking
MBA Skills

Academic Achievement *Score out of 3

Relevant Experience E-Business


Multi-lingual Entrepreneurship

Marketing 0.5 Finance Skills



Leadership skills 2.0 International Awareness


IT/Computer Skills Interpersonal Skills


We asked employers to tell us which skills they value the most in their MBA hires, and
how satisfied they were that they were in possession of said skills. We have seen a level
of consistency in this over the years: MBA employers expect a lot, and don’t believe
they are quite getting it. Traditionally this has been most pronounced in soft skill areas,
and this year is no different, with the disconnect between importance and satisfaction
in communication skills, interpersonal skills and leadership skills eye catching.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

We should offer a couple of caveats here, employers put a considerable premium

on soft skills, and – particularly if we extend our sample out a few years – these skills
actually rank fairly well among those in which employers are most satisfied overall.
This applies less to leadership skills. Thus, we reach the same conclusions as ever:
MBAs must pay more heed to their human side to get ahead, and must also be ready
to step up and lead, and not simply push pencils: this is why they’re being hired in the
first place. This is accentuated by a worrying gap we see in strategic thinking and a
smaller though still noticeable one in entrepreneurship.

Elsewhere, MBAs can take solace in their status as citizens of the world, with
international awareness and linguistic ability rating highly, who seem to be comfortable
in the digital world. As you would hope, finance, risk management and marketing also
look more positive. Employers, it seems, do not place too much emphasis on CSR,
though they’re happy enough with that of MBAs, while the skill they care about least –
academic achievement – is that with which they are most satisfied…

MBA Specializations




























We asked employers to also pick which MBA specializations they considered the
most valuable. The results very much echo what was found above, with leadership
and strategy leading the way, followed by innovation. The message for MBAs is clear:
employers are looking for visionaries, not just functional managers who are able to
keep things ticking along.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

That said, they still also need those with expertise in finance, marketing and operations,
to support visionaries. CSR once again registers a low score, as does international
management – it may be that these are considered innate enough skills to not warrant
a specialization. Interestingly, entrepreneurship registers the next lowest score –
perhaps the same applies here.

Work Experience

Preferred Years of Work Experience Sought

0-1 1-3 3-5 5-8 8+

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%

We asked employers what the ideal amount of work experience was in those being
hired into MBA jobs. While work experience is clearly valued, it seems that employers
prefer those who are experienced but not too experienced, with 3-5 and 1-3 years’
experience deemed the ideal amount for employers responding to our survey.
It seems that they are seeking those who know what they are doing, but who are
not yet set in their ways, and can grow with the company. Those with greater than 5
years’ experience, however, are still valued by employers, with the two age brackets
represented here registering nearly a third. Those with less than a year are the least in
demand it would seem, although 5% of employers is not an insignificant figure.

There is some regional variety: Latin American employers show the greatest propensity
to hire those with greater experience, while Middle Eastern & African employers are
the most willing to hire inexperienced candidates. As is to be expected, Western
European employers put a higher premium on experience than those in the US &
Canada, reflecting the higher average age of MBA candidates in the region.

QS TopMBA.com Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018

Sample of Employers



Bain & Company


Financial Services



Morgan Stanley

HSBC Global Asset Management





Adobe Systems


BBC World Service




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