Wharton MBA Lands $450K-A-Year Job

by on December 23rd, 2012

A Wharton MBA in this year’s Class of 2012 landed a total first-year compensation package of $450,000, according to the school’s employment stats. That’s not a misprint. It’s $450,000 in base pay, sign-on bonus, year-end guaranteed bonus and possibly some other perks such as paid relocation expenses and tuition reimbursement.

Nice work if you can get it.

Yet, none of Wharton’s numbers this year are breaking any records. Even the $450K-a-year grad, who presumably landed a top finance gig, had been eclipsed by an MBA who reported a $680,000 total comp one-year package back in 2004.

Highest starting salary for Wharton’s class of 2012: a cool quarter of a million dollars

And this year’s highest paid starting salary for a Wharton MBA was $250,000. Not bad, of course, when the median base salary for a Wharton grad this year was $120,000. But last year a Wharton MBA landed a job paying $375,000 in starting salary, and in 2008, the school reported an eye-popping $420,000 salary for a graduate of that class (see table on following page for record numbers over the years at Wharton).

The highest paid sign-on bonus? A hefty $200,000. The highest guaranteed year-end bonus? $200,000. The grad who got the best tuition reimbursement deal was given $200,000 by a company for the cost of the degree. And at least one MBA was able to get a company to pay $56,000 in relocation expenses this year.

In general, the highest paid graduates at Wharton went into the private equity and buyout field. The median base salary for the nearly 10% of the class that accepted PE and buyout jobs was $150,000 this year, up from $138,500. The second best-paid field was consulting where the median base hit $135,000, up $10,000 from $125,000 last year. Some 26.7% of the Class of 2012 headed into consulting, down from 30.1% a year earlier.

For the entire graduating class at Wharton, the median base salary of $120,000 remained unchanged from last year. The median sign-on bonus was $25,000, with a range of a $2,500 low and the $200,000 high. Wharton said that 65% of its graduates reported receiving a sign-on bonus. The median year-end bonus was $30,000, with a range of $5,000 to the high of $200,000. Wharton said that 15% of the class reported getting a guaranteed year-end bonus. By the way, the lowest reported base salary for a Wharton MBA this year: just $20,000.

Wall Street layoffs continue but finance made a comeback at Wharton this year

The most interesting news, perhaps, is that finance began making something of a comeback at Wharton this year. Despite continued layoffs on Wall Street, 41.0% of the school’s Class of 2012 landed jobs in financial services, up from 38.5% last year. Hiring was up in five of the half dozen categories of financial jobs, including hedge funds, investment banking and brokerage, investment management, private equity and buyouts, and venture capital. The only category of financial jobs down was “diversified financial services” which attracted only 1.34% of this year’s class, down from 4.94% last year. Some 9.8% of the class got jobs in private equity and buyouts, up from 7.01% last year.

“What we’ve seen over the last couple of years is more diversity in terms of what students are looking at in finance,” says Maryellen Lamb, director of MBA Career Management at Wharton. “Over the last couple of years, we have put a tremendous focus on some of the companies that aren’t traditionally on campus in a big way, in particular hedge funds and private equity firms. We saw a lot of response from that outreach effort. And Wharton is still seen as a real resource for finance broadly and for investment banking.”

Technology firms also captured a larger share of Wharton’s class of 2012

Technology jobs also were up for the Class of 2012. Some 11.6% of the class took jobs in high tech, up from 7.64% last year. “We’ve seen a number of the big players on campus with much more organized campaigns than ever before, especially Amazon, Google and Apple,” added Lamb in an interview with Poets&Quants. “They have really come to campus in a big way and our students are responding to the opportunities they are presenting.”

So far this year’s outlook for MBA jobs remains strong. “We have been pleasantly busy, with the same volume of companies coming on campus that were here last year,” says Lamb. “And we have seen more interest than last year from some of the tech firms.”


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