Business Development Specialist: Education and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a business development specialist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and travel requirements to find out if this is the career for you.

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All companies need people to help them sell their products or services to consumers and clients. That's exactly what a business development specialist does: brings in new business or maintains ongoing client relationships. Jobs in this sector call for a bachelor's degree as well as sales experience; you'll also need to be OK with traveling for work.

Essential Information

Business development specialists work in outside sales, promoting a company's products and services. Most companies require a bachelor's degree in a sales-related major such as marketing, while some prefer candidates with degrees in a field related to the products or technology they sell. Those with outgoing personalities and an interest in travel may be interested in becoming business development specialists.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Driver's license and willingness to travel
Projected Job Growth 7% from 2014-2024 for sales engineers*
Median Salary (2015) $97,650*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Business Development Specialist Education

Most business development specialist positions require at least a bachelor's degree in a related major, including marketing, business administration or communications. Depending her or his employer's industry and needs, the specialist may be expected to hold a degree in a field like engineering or computer science, especially if the employer is a technology company. While a more advanced degree like a Master's in Business Administration may not be necessary, it might make candidates more attractive to prospective employers.

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Business Development Specialist Career Information

Business development specialists are outside salesmen who work for companies selling products or services in an assigned territory. A valid driver's license and the ability and willingness to travel are often job requirements because specialists may meet with clients in different geographic locations. Most employers expect applicants to have a few years of general sales experience as well as sales experience in the employer's particular field. Those applicants with general sales experience and other work experience in the employer's field may be considered especially appealing.

On a day-to-day basis, specialists may make cold calls to prospective clients and participate in other telemarketing activities to generate new business. They may also meet with existing clients to promote products or services, explain how they can meet their clients' business needs and close sales deals. Specialists must possess excellent oral and written communication skills because they may be expected to give presentations and provide follow-up correspondence. Strong computer skills and a familiarity with technology are beneficial since business development specialists may need to access company systems while traveling.

Individuals with outgoing and persuasive personalities and knowledge of the products and services they are promoting are most likely to succeed in this career. Those who are self-motivated and able to work independently may also be better prepared to succeed in this profession.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Some fields comparable to a business development specialist are sales engineers, securities, commodities and financial services sales agents, and wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all of these fields are expected to experience average or above-average rates of growth from 2014-2024. The BLS reports the median salary for sales engineers was $97,650 in 2015, and securities, commodities and financial services sales agents received a median salary of $71,550 that year. Also in 2015, general wholesale and manufacturing sales agents were paid a median salary of $76,190, based on data from the BLS.

In addition to a relevant bachelor's degree, employers are looking for sales experience, familiarity with their product or service area, and strong communications and technology skills when hiring business development specialists. Also be prepared to spend a lot of time on the road meeting clients and giving presentations. This sector is seeing steady growth and jobs are generally well-compensated.

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