JD Vs MBA: Salary & Career Options

Graduates with JDs or MBAs enter the workforce with sought-after professional degrees that offer the potential for high-paying jobs, including the six profiled here. Whether a JD or MBA will yield a higher paying job depends on the expertise required.

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Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees are professional degrees that offer many job choices and opportunities. Both degrees have the potential to lead to high-paying jobs. These positions are chiefly found in the disciplines of law and business, though the options vary in focus from policy to consulting and more.

Salary and Job Growth Information

Below are a few jobs that holders of a JD or MBA might consider pursuing:

Job Related Degree Median Salary (2016)* Projected Growth (2016-26)*
Attorney JD $118,160/year 8%
Contracts Manager JD/MBA $90,050/year (for administrative services managers) 10% (for administrative services managers)
Public Policy Analyst JD $114,290 (for political scientists) 3% (for political scientists)
Management Consultant MBA $81,330/year 14%
Financial Analyst MBA $81,760/year 11%
Business Operations Manager MBA $103,950/year (for top executives) 8% (for top executives)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Job Descriptions

Attorney

Attorneys work either at law firms, in-house at a company, for a governmental entity, or as solo practitioners advising and representing clients on legal matters. Attorneys need a JD and need to pass their state's bar examination in order to practice law. Attorneys often work in transactional matters, which include drafting contracts, business, and intellectual property affairs, or in litigation, where the attorney represents clients in trial and manages the trial process. Attorneys will utilize the analytical skills and legal knowledge developed in law school in this career.

Contracts Manager

Contracts managers assist in the creation, review, and execution of contracts for businesses. While a JD or MBA is not required for a career in contracts management, it is an increasing trend for companies to prefer contract manager candidates with these advanced degrees. Companies seeking managers to work in their legal departments may prefer to hire those with a JD specifically. Contracts managers will use the negotiation and contract construction skills and knowledge gained during law or business school to draft, negotiate, and execute contracts through their lifecycle.

Public Policy Analyst

Public policy analysts focus on researching, evaluating, and shaping public policy. They often work for governments or think tanks to create policies, determine their effectiveness, and raise public awareness of social issues. This job typically requires a master's degree or Ph.D. While a JD is not specifically required for this career, JD graduates enter this field with a deep knowledge and understanding of constitutional and public laws.

Management Consultant

Management consultants work with organizations and managers to improve efficiency and increase profits. Management consultants provide process analysis, strategy development, and operational improvement services. While an MBA is not strictly required for this job, it is preferred by some employers. MBA graduates go into this position with thorough training in management operations, corporate finance, and communications.

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts assess the performance of investments for businesses and individuals and provide advice in investment decisions. Financial analysts also provide financial and analytical support in day-to-day accounting and financial reporting. This job typically requires a bachelor's degree, though the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that holding a graduate degree offers a significant advantage in this competitive field. MBA graduates entering this job will have knowledge of corporate finance and Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, as well as experience in specific industries of the student's choice.

Business Operations Manager

Operations managers are individuals in charge of the management of budgets, resources, supplies, and personnel. While the specifics of the job will depend on the industry and company, operations managers are like generals on the field - they oversee the big-picture processes for a company and devise and implement strategies for success. It's common for operations managers to have an MBA, especially those who work for large organizations. MBA graduates will use their leadership, management, and economic skills and knowledge to excel in this job.

Earning a JD doesn't limit you to a career as a lawyer, just like earning an MBA doesn't restrict you to becoming a manager. Both degrees offer numerous career options in specialized areas of business and law, like policy, contracts and finance, and all of these jobs offer generous salaries.

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