2019-2022 MBA Job Placement Trends: The Rise and Fall of Tech and the Return to Consulting and Finance
In our previous article, we highlighted the decline in tech industry jobs accepted and the increase in consulting jobs accepted from the Class of 2021 to the Class of 2022 among leading full-time MBA programs. To place this observation into a larger context, we dug into the last four years of MBA career report data to see larger trends in tech, consulting and finance industry job placement.
From the Class of 2019 to the Class of 2021, there was an increase in tech jobs accepted across most top MBA programs as tech industry firms grew and successfully competed for MBA talent. During this period of pandemic-fueled tech industry growth, MBA graduates shifted away from consulting and finance jobs to take tech industry jobs. However, as the tech industry growth slowed in 2022, we are seeing Class of 2022 graduates shift away from tech industry jobs back to jobs in consulting and finance. The exception to this trend is with business schools on the U.S. West Coast, where tech industry job placement remains strong.
The Rise and Fall of MBA Hiring in the Tech Industry
The chart below shows the percentage of graduates accepting tech industry jobs for the Classes of 2019 through 2022 for 19 full-time MBA programs, sorted by highest percentage of tech jobs accepted in the Class of 2022. Numbers marked reflect Class of 2022 placement.
For eight of these 19 MBA programs, the high point for tech job placement occurred in the Class of 2021. This lends some credence to the theory that the growth in tech industry hiring in 2020-2021 caused tech firms to increase hiring at leading business schools farther away from the established West Coast tech hubs. When the tech industry cooled in 2022, we then saw a decline in tech jobs accepted for most business schools. Having said this, West Coast schools like Anderson, Haas, Marshall and Stanford GSB continued to perform well with tech industry job placements into 2022. In fact Anderson, Marshall and Stanford GSB are on a multiyear upward trend with tech industry job placements while Haas maintained its high percentage. Having said this, in 2022 the rate of tech job growth slowed for even the West Coast schools.
It is notable to see the multiyear decline in tech placements at Sloan, which fell from 31% in the Class of 2019 to 23% in the Class of 2022. To a lesser extent this multiyear decline has also occurred at Tepper, which fell from 31% in the Class of 2019 to 28% in the Class of 2022. Both schools seem to be undergoing a multiyear transition from tech industry jobs to consulting jobs.
It is also interesting to see how the three years of tech growth from 2019 to 2021 at Kellogg (25% to 30%), Ross (22% to 25%), Fuqua (23% to 27%) and Booth (21% to 23%) really ended with sizable declines in Class of 2022 percentage of tech jobs accepted. Given the continued tech industry slowdown in the second half of 2022, we don’t expect these business schools to see a bounce back in tech industry hiring for the Class of 2023.
Consulting Jobs for MBAs Expanded in 2022, But is Growth Sustainable?
In contrast to the recent decline in tech jobs accepted, most business schools increased their percentage of consulting jobs accepted in the Class of 2022. The chart below shows the percentages of graduates accepting consulting jobs for the Classes of 2019 through 2022 for 19 full-time MBA programs, sorted by highest percentage of consulting jobs accepted in the Class of 2022. Numbers marked refer to Class of 2022 percentages.
Compared to the tech industry, consulting is consistently a more popular source of jobs for MBA graduates across most business schools. For example, over the past four years, consulting jobs accepted represents at least 25% of total jobs accepted at 13 of these 19 MBA programs. In contrast, over the past four years, tech industry jobs accepted comprise more than 25% of total jobs accepted at only three of the 19 MBA programs (Anderson, Haas and Tepper).
Four of the 19 schools (Tuck, Yale SOM, Ross and Kellogg) are outliers given their large (7-12%) percentage increase in consulting jobs accepted in 2022 and their high (40-47%) concentration in consulting jobs accepted in 2022. In fact, they are above their average percent of consulting jobs accepted in 2019 to 2021. These high concentrations in consulting jobs accepted in 2022 are likely not sustainable, and we expect these figures will revert back to a more historically sustainable 30-35% concentration range in the next two years.
Stanford GSB is an outlier because they have both a small (15%) percentage and declining (18% to 15%) percentage of MBA graduates accepting consulting jobs while posting a small increase (29% to 30%) in MBA graduates accepting tech jobs from the Class of 2021 to the Class of 2022.
Finance Jobs for MBAs Holding Relatively Stable
In contrast to the changes in tech and consulting jobs accepted, the finance jobs accepted are relatively more stable across the four years. Here is a chart showing the percentage of MBA graduates accepting finance jobs for the Classes of 2019 through 2022 for 19 full-time MBA programs, sorted by highest percentage of finance jobs accepted in the Class of 2022. Numbers marked represent the Class of 2022 placement.
What is immediately noticeable is that there are seven business schools (Johnson, Wharton, CBS, Booth, Stern, HBS and Stanford) where finance jobs accepted equal over 30% of jobs accepted. Then, there is another batch of six MBA programs (McDonough, Sloan, Kenan-Flagler, Yale, Darden and Tuck) that consistently place 20-25% into finance jobs. Finally, there are six schools (Kellogg, Fuqua, Tepper, Ross, Haas and Anderson) that place about 15% into finance jobs.
While most business schools have relatively stable finance job acceptances, there are a few exceptions. Marshall seems to be transitioning to more of a finance orientation since it doubled from 10% to 20% in finance jobs accepted in the last two years. In addition, leading finance schools like Johnson, Wharton, CBS and Booth all increased their percentage of graduates going into finance jobs in 2022.
In conclusion, these MBA programs have different strengths around consulting, finance and tech job placement. For example, Yale SOM, Tuck and Ross have the highest consulting placements while Cornell, Wharton, CBS and Booth have the highest finance placements. In addition, the business schools on the West Coast (Anderson, Haas, Stanford and Marshall) have the highest tech placements. Given this variability in career placement outcomes across top MBA programs, it is important for candidates to do their due diligence with regards to how a given MBA program might mesh with the applicant’s goals.