MBAs have become the most popular master's degree in the U.S. Why? MBAs are widely recognized as an asset by employers, and they have a reputation for their high return on investment. They are also popular due to their widespread application: mastering the fundamentals of business is an asset in a variety of fields. Here are a few of the career paths MBA students can pursue.

Accounting

Accounting is one of the bedrocks of a business education. Businesses can’t survive without professionals that can prepare, present and analyze accounting records. Reporting must be timely and useful so that other employees can make informed decisions regarding strategy and operations. Accountants require additional studies and certification to become a Certified Public Accountant or similar.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that there were 1.3 million accountants and auditors in 2014, and that the job outlook is expected to rise 11 percent from 2014 to 2024.

Finance

Financial analysts make sure that an organization is managing its cash and investments properly. They also help guide companies to projects that provide the best return on investment. Professionals might funnel their energy into becoming the chief financial officer (CFO) for an organization, working at a large financial services firm, or providing customized financial counseling to individuals.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says there were 277,600 financial analysts in 2014, and the job outlook will rise 12 percent from 2014 to 2024.

Marketing

Marketing, broadly stated, is the field accountable for promoting and selling products and services to consumers. Marketing is often described as the four Ps — product, price, promotion and place — but there is a fifth, unofficial P that stands for people. Many different skill sets are useful in marketing: Some professionals are concerned with quantitative aspects, such as market research and pricing strategy, while other professionals can take a more creative approach to qualitative measures.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • There were 225,200 marketing managers in 2014, and the job outlook will grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024.
  • There were 495,500 market research analysts in 2014, and the job outlook will grow 19 percent — must faster than the average for all industries — from 2014 to 2024.

    Information Technology and Cybersecurity

    Information technology and cybersecurity can be studied outside of an MBA program, but combining these fields with a business background opens many doors to IT management and other advanced positions. Professionals with this knowledge will be able to help their organizations manage and protect the networks, hardware and data companies needed to meet their customers’ wants and needs.

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 3.9 million jobs in computer and information technology occupations in 2014, and the job outlook is expected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024. Employment of information security analysts is expected to grow 18%, which is much faster than average.

    Entrepreneurship

    With the foundation provided in the MBA curriculum, many students will be in a good position to explore opportunities to start their own businesses. Entrepreneurship requires vision, creativity, attention to details and an ability to see the big picture. When companies are small, the founder must be able to tap into everything he or she has learned in their MBA programs — accounting, finance, marketing and even IT. As the organization grows, entrepreneurs must be able to collaborate and delegate to allow other people to take over certain functions.

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