Top executives: Exploring these MBA careers

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Students who pursue a Master of Business Administration aren’t looking to learn about just the ins and outs of the industry; they’re looking to gain the necessary leadership skills for guiding their future team to success. Everything from technology to company culture can change in an instant in the fast-paced business world, but individuals who have taken the time to invest in their leadership know-how will be the ones to thrive in a quickly evolving workforce.

So how do you know what are the best jobs for MBA graduates? Or what MBA career options might be right for you? If you do well with critical decision-making, can easily tackle complex problems, and have a naturally ambitious working demeanor, you might consider pursuing one of the best MBA jobs on the market: a top executive.

While the title varies depending on the company, your area of specialty, or the industry in which you work, the core responsibilities of the position usually remain the same: planning, strategizing, and coordinating operational activities of your organization at an executive level.

Still unsure about what life as a top executive looks like or if you have what it takes to work toward this career? Here are just a few considerations about how the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s MBA online degree can help you achieve your career goals of becoming a top executive at a small, midsize, or large company.

Smiling business woman asking a question

What does daily life as a top executive entail?

There is no single way to become a top executive. Additionally, as this position exists in some capacity in nearly every industry and organization, there are plenty of options for MBA graduates to pursue, whether at small or large companies and in a variety of business sectors. For this reason, the daily working life of a top executive will look very different depending on the organization you intend to work for. But for the most part, you can expect to lead a team of employees and potentially travel for work.

With this in mind, this position is ideal for anyone who enjoys consistent challenges to tackle at work and being the one responsible for making important decisions. Top executives may establish or enforce organizational procedures or policies, oversee large-scale projects, consult with other executives, manage financial or budgetary activities, and analyze and identify places of improvement on micro and macro levels.

What are the required skills and qualities for this MBA career?

What kind of skills or knowledge do you need to pursue a top executive role? To begin with, you’ll want to be skilled in negotiation, personnel management, coordination of operational projects, management of material resources, time management, active learning, and quick decision-making.

The beauty of this career path is that every top executive prefers and exhibits a different leadership style — just consider the differences between Apple CEO Tim Cook, T-Mobile CEO John Legere, and Uber founder Travis Kalanick. While the vast majority of top executives have an MBA and work in a related field to the organization they intend to lead, when it comes to precise skills you will need on the job, this varies greatly depending on your company or unique leadership approach.

Despite this flexibility, many top executives are skilled at directing organizational operations, analyzing key data, implementing operational processes or procedures, preparing budgets, coordinating with clients and other external parties, negotiating contracts or grants, managing teams of employees, resolving employee conflicts, and heading up a niche area of their organization, such as marketing, customer service, or accounting.

What are the general salary expectations for top executives?

The top executive role varies greatly depending on the size of the company, area of the country, or the industry sector in which you work. Though the precise duties change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the median wage for chief or top executives last year was $104,700, with chief executives earning $183,270 or more.

The highest-grossing industries for top executives were professional, scientific, and technical services at $137,950, with manufacturing following close behind at $108,960, and construction after that with $101,200. The retail industry averaged around $73,760. Once again, these earnings would fluctuate greatly depending on the size of an organization, area of specialty, or type of company you intend to work for.

The salaries for top executives also typically include performance bonuses, travel perks, and stock options, which can serve as a benefit for many ambitious MBA graduates looking to boost their earning potential. Additionally, many top executives may benefit from company cars, private aircrafts, exclusive club memberships, and expense allowances.

Are you ready to take the next step with UAB?

Now that you have learned more about the earning possibilities, skills requirements, and daily life of a top executive, it’s time to take the next step in preparing for your future career: pursuing an MBA online degree at UAB. Our rigorous curriculum, flexible learning schedule, and skilled faculty make UAB the right choice for many hard-working MBA students looking to advance their career potential. To learn more about the specifics of our program, reach out to an advisor today.

Recommended Readings:

What is the general industry outlook for MBA graduates?

Career Spotlight: Chief Financial Officer


UAB Collat School of Business: Online MBA Degree Program

O*NET: Online Summary Report for 11-1011.00 – Chief Executives

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Top Executives

CollegeGrad: Top Executives: Career, Salary and Education Information

Inc Magazine: 23 Things These Successful Executives Do Every Day, No Matter What