Best Paying Jobs in Finance & the MBA

best paying jobs in finance

The MBA is an important stepping stone to a finance career. In fact, it’s often seen as a gatekeeper to the best paying jobs in finance. Business school students see the MBA experience as the best way to acquire and refine the skills needed to handle the weighty financial and managerial responsibilities associated with finance deals.

Across our SBC client pool, we estimate about 30% of MBA candidates aspire to finance industry careers upon graduating from b-school.  The former MBA Admissions Officers on our SBC team have thoughts on which MBA applicants should include finance in their application essays.

A former Wharton Admissions Officer on our team says, “The investment banking career path is viable in an MBA application, if previous career trajectory makes placement realistic.”

“Make sure you are an interesting person outside of work – what makes you unique?” asks a former CBS admissions officer on our team.

As you can see from the snapshot below, recent employment reports from the top MBA programs reaffirm that finance is a dominant industry.

Placement into Finance Industry Roles*

Harvard 34%
Stanford 24%
Wharton 36%
Columbia 33%
Kellogg 15%
Booth 30%
MIT Sloan 18%
Haas 14%
Duke 18%
Darden 19%

*Sourced from top MBA program employment reports.

What are the Best Paying Jobs in Finance?

An investment banking analyst is responsible for navigating mergers and acquisitions. This is a niche that continues to thrive even during the pandemic-induced economic volatility. Analysts in investment banking actively raise capital for and advise entrepreneurial clients across different sectors.

“Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is a general term used to describe the consolidation of companies or assets through various types of financial transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, consolidations, tender offers, purchase of assets, and management acquisitions,” Investopedia explains.

Additionally, we discussed the merits of the investment banking career path with SBC consultant Puja, whose professional trajectory followed a similar route.

Salary Ranges for the Investment Banking Path

Investment banker salary* + bonus:

  • Analyst – First Year: $70,000 – $150,000
  • Analyst – Third Year: $120,000 – $350,000
  • Associate – First Year: $150,000 – $350,000
  • Associate – Third Year: $250,000 – $500,000
  • Vice President: $350,000 – $1,500,000
  • Managing Director/Partner: $500,000 – $20,000,000+

Typically an IB analyst bonus is between 30-100% of base salary. 

*Source: Wall Street Oasis

Post – MBA Associate position at an investment bank varies according to signing bonus, relocation bonus, etc.: 

  • Base salary:  $125,000-$150,000
  • Bonus:  $80,000-$200,000
  • Total: $200,000-$500,000 based on tenure and seniority

Request a free MBA candidacy analysis to understand your career profile for MBA admissions

Private equity* compensation

A recent client of ours shared about his private equity career aspirations, “It would offer me the excitement of structuring and negotiating transactions, the satisfaction of capital value creation, and the entrepreneurial zeal of ownership.”  The path is alluring to many as its one of the best paying jobs in finance.

“A private equity analyst does the behind the scenes work to attract big clients or companies that promise large financial returns by applying a few strategic changes to their current marketing strategy. This is where private equity analysts come into play.

This junior entry level position focuses on executing deals, monitoring the portfolio of companies, and screening new deals. They also come up with better financial models for struggling companies to better compete in the industry through collecting data from similar competitors in the marketplace,” explains

Here are salary ranges for the private equity career path.

  • Analyst/Associate – First Year: $100K – $250K
  • Analyst/Associate – Second Year: $150K – $300K
  • Analyst/Associate – Third Year +: $170K – $350K
  • Vice President: $300K – $800K
  • Managing Director/Partner: $500K – $10MM+

*Source: Wall Street Oasis

Other high-paying roles that business school applicants consider include hedge fund analyst and sales and trading.

Request a free MBA candidacy analysis to understand your career profile for MBA admissions

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Wharton, Booth and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Anthony, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated over 10 years of expertise.

Meet Kim, who was an Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Chicago Booth.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.


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