You earn more with an MBA

Does having an MBA automatically catapult you into the top salary bracket?

In an effort to determine the impact of a Master of Business Administration degree on earnings and career prospects, one of the country's top MBA sites,, last year launched its first salary survey.

The survey attracted 467 respondents. Though most CHE-accredited business schools participated, the majority of graduates had obtained their MBA degrees at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, the Henley Management College, the University of Stellenbosch Business School or the Milpark Business School.

Professor Eon Smit, director of the University of Stellenbosch Business School, feels the results provide a useful snapshot of the MBA salary trends.

However, he notes that income surveys are biased because people who do well report back and those who don't do well often opt against responding.

"Be that as it may, the study is valuable in that it confirms the findings of research conducted elsewhere in the world. The market does indeed reward the MBA degree in real terms, and rewards it substantially," he says.

According to the survey, the average respondent currently earns a yearly salary of R560285 and the maximum reported salary is R3000000.

Interestingly, the average pre-MBA salary is R297731 and the average salary earned at the first job post-MBA is R393783.

The survey indicates that the average yearly salary increased by 32percent between the periods before obtaining an MBA and the first job after obtaining the degree, which Smit equates to a real yearly hike of 20percent.

What might be more noteworthy is that the average yearly salary increased by 42percent between the first job after obtaining an MBA and the current job.

However, Jonathan Cook, academic director at the Gordon Institute, believes this second measure should not be too heavily weighted, as the periods are not included in the data.

"Not surprisingly, there is quite a large differential between the first and fourth quartiles," says Cook. "This could be explained in part by the variances in working experience, which range from as little as two years to 40 years."

While the survey reveals that respondents with the most work experience earn the most, position and industry are also important considerations, with certain jobs and industries traditionally paying more than others. -