rebecca-lindegrenAbout the author: Rebecca Lindegren is the community relations manager for MBA@UNC, an online Executive MBA program specializing in leadership. In addition to higher ed, she is passionate about content and brand marketing, cycling and skiing. Follow her on twitter.

Most MBA programs offer students the opportunity to focus their studies outside of their core business classes in a particular area, or concentration. Although a general MBA degree is perfectly respectable and useful in the world of business, taking a concentration (or two) is particularly handy for breaking into or advancing in certain careers. With this in mind, make sure your chosen concentration(s) help prepare you for your dream career. Here are five commonly-offered MBA concentrations and the kinds of jobs and careers to which they can lead.

Finance

Almost universally offered by business schools around the world, finance MBAs are perennially popular fast-track tickets into the finance industry. In this field, you’ll never be the only MBA on the team – most junior-level analysts either have the degree or aspire to earn one. Senior-level positions all but require a finance MBA, but if you can stick it out, this is a degree that will pay off big time in the long run. The median mid-career salary for finance MBAs is about 121,000 USD. Common jobs include finance director, senior financial analyst, and chief financial officer.

Entrepreneurship

An entrepreneurship MBA prepares students to start and run (hopefully) successful businesses. With the explosive growth of start-ups and a series of huge, highly visible payoffs for entrepreneurs who sold their businesses to established companies, this concentration may be entering the height of its popularity. Of course, the field of entrepreneurship is as diverse as it is unpredictable, so don’t expect any representative salary stats here. Even if you’re not ready to take the big leap of faith to start your own business, having a firm grasp of how to build a successful company can lead to lucrative consulting positions with startups looking to make it big.

Marketing

If you want marketing to be a big part of your career for years to come, consider a marketing concentration. Although a marketing MBA is not required for low- to mid-level jobs in the field, this degree can help to vault graduates into higher-level positions like marketing manager, business development manager, or marketing director. Popular marketing subfields include consumer goods, services, consulting, healthcare, business-to-business, and high tech. Median mid-career marketing MBA salaries hover around 113,000 USD.

Sustainable Management

Due to growing concerns about environmental degradation, climate change, and dwindling worldwide supplies of fossil fuels, companies in all sectors are thinking seriously about how to make their business more sustainable. Sustainable management is one of the fastest growing areas of study in business schools, and businesses are rewarding graduates with positions like energy data analyst and sustainability consultant. Jobs for sustainable management MBAs vary widely, so salary stats can be somewhat misleading. Suffice it to say that this degree is really what you make of it, so get creative in your job search around graduation.

Supply Chain Management

In our globalized world, businesses are building and maintaining increasingly complicated and geographically scattered supply chains to get their products to market. Individuals who can understand and streamline these supply chains to maximize efficiency and efficacy are in high demand around the world. A supply chain management MBA can lead to positions in supply chain analysis, transportation management, and logistics. Median mid-career salary for supply chain management MBAs is about 135,000 USD.