Need advice! What should I expect for salary? Should I accept job offer?

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Hi Guys,

Long time lurker--first time poster. As I have found the FWF community to always be quite thoughtful and helpful, I would like to hear some thoughts, opinions and advice.

I'm currently in a top 3 MBA program ready to graduate in May. I've received a few offers and I am concerned whether I am maximizing the potential income that I will be receiving.

Let's me just say first that I know income isn't the only part of jobs, but let's assume that the other factors such as growth opportunities, culture, people, work life balance, etc., are satisfactory.

Some details on me: I'm 30 years old (which is slightly old for a typical MBA grad). I have a prior Masters degree in statistics from a top program (done right after undergrad) and an undergrad in Computer Science from a state school, where I received a full scholarship. I have 5 years of work experience at a Fortune 100 large corporate healthcare company, located in a very low cost of living city, doing big data / analytics consulting. I moved into a Manager role / title, including hiring, performance reviews, managing clients, project work, etc., after the first 3 years. I've gone through a leadership development program at that company. Upon leaving, I was at a salary of $100,000 with bonus of usually 10%, but often a bit more. I thought that was very competitive, especially given the extremely low cost of living.

So, the question is, what should someone with my background be commanding? Assume a corporate setting or a high growth small business. Assume healthcare industry, non-finance. Assume data / analytics management responsibilities.

Some data points I received:
Typical entry level data scientist in the West Coast (eg. Facebook): $115K
Typical consulting MBA grad associate level (eg. McKinsey, Bain): ~$130K base with 20% bonus
Typical Director level salary at my old company: $150K-$160K base with unknown bonus

Some offers I received:
Typical consulting firm in Chicago: $125K base with 20% bonus
Fortune 100 healthcare company in Boston: $120K base with 5% bonus
Small business consulting-like company in Washington D.C.: $135K base with 20% bonus, up to 30% bonus

Cost of the MBA:
I assume this to be around $450K+ when including the opportunity cost. It's around $100K a year when including tuition, fees and living expenses. On top of that is the $110K salary not earned each year (2 year program) plus yearly increases unearned.

So, the feedback I am seeking: are these offers fair? Should I take any of them? What should I be expecting in terms of numbers? Should I keep looking? Should I strive to find something I love that might potentially have a much lesser salary (say $100K)? I feel like with 2 Masters degrees from top schools, 5 years of experience including formal management experience, a fairly high previous salary, I should be doing a bit better than average median graduating salary no? And certainly, it should be significantly higher than entry level data scientist? I just feel like with all those education / opportunity costs, I gotta make the next job pay well.

I welcome your thoughts and responses. Thanks in advance.

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I think you could find a job that pays more if it builds off your prior skills and your new education, but it's not immediately clear to me that you're uniquely qualified for any of those jobs above & beyond any other MBA graduate. They're not going to pay you more for skills that are of no value to them.

I'm not sure why the cost of the MBA matters; it's all sunk costs at this point. And the companies aren't going to care about your MBA costs either. Are you expecting an offer from your old company? If they offered a salary that was significantly higher than your current offers with a lower COL, then you could potentially use it as leverage to negotiate.

Also, it's not a fair comparison to compare everything back to Facebook. Most people in my engineering field are starting in the 60s with a master's degree, which is significantly less than what a CS master's graduate can expect in the tech industry.

What were you expecting in terms of salary? If you really want a higher starting, you just need to ask. Tell them what you told us and see what they say.

If you're at a Top 3 MBA school, your career services can be much more helpful than us.

The consulting offer sounds terrible if you can get similar paying jobs without travel and without 100 hours a week.

yeah, no point in including opportunity cost. that was relevant before you decided to do your MBA but once you started it doesnt matter

offers-wise, none of those seem exceptional. but i'd also say you need to think about the specifics of each job (as in if you'll be working 100 hours/week versus 50 hours)
regardless of what the "average" offer is, those are what you've gotten so far, so you need to consider them. i'd assume there is also room to negotiate, so you can mention that the average is higher, and you find yourself to have an above average skillset and educational background than others in your program

good luck!

Actually those numbers are about spot on for what you should be expecting. I'm surprised that you left your old job as a manager to go to MBA school, wouldn't it have been better to do some kind of night MBA school and stay at the old job? Too late now though, I would choose the job with the most upward mobility.

What was your plan going in to the MBA? (none)

With what you posted its not easy to assess your background. Given your lack of planning it seems those offers are reasonable.

The fact that companies are paying these kinds of salaries is clearly an indication that a bubble will be bursting soon.

do178b said:   The fact that companies are paying these kinds of salaries is clearly an indication that a bubble will be bursting soon.
How so? These salaries don't look over inflated to me. The cities that the OP listed these jobs in are high COL areas.

salaries are on line with most consultants. You must remember the cost of being a consultant as well. M-Th work weeks out of town .... etc...

You are 30.

If you are career oriented without any marriage plans in the near future then go for consulting, put in the crazy hours and make the most of your career.

If you have marriage plans in the next few years then there is not enough information here to give you sound advice.

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