Career Information for a Degree in Business

Degrees in business typically cover financial, accounting and management. Find out about the degree programs and learn about career options, job growth and salary information for business graduates.

A bachelor's degree in business is the ideal educational preparation for a career as an administrative services manger or as a financial analyst. Accountants and auditors and chief executives may need a master's degree in business to pursue career advancement opportunities, and business teachers need a doctoral degree to teach at the postsecondary level. Certification is optional for some of these careers, although accountants must be licensed.

Essential Information

A degree in business prepares a student for a job in accounting, financing, management or teaching. Most occupations require at least a bachelor's degree, while others demand a master's or doctorate. Business graduates can look forward to many career opportunities, and depending on their concentrations they have the opportunity to earn a high salary.

Careers Administrative Services Manager Financial Analyst Accountants and Auditors Chief Executive Postsecondary Business Teacher
Required Education bachelor's degree bachelor's or master's degree bachelor's in accounting, master's in accounting or business administration with a concentration in accounting bachelor's or master's degree in business administration master's or doctorate degree
Other requirements certification optional certification optional certification optional, license certification for advancement, license required for Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification optional, tenure for job security and advancement
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% 12% 11% -1% 9% for postsecondary business teachers
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $86,110 $80,310 $67,190 $175,110 $75,370

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

A business major demonstrates excellent analytical, mathematical and computer skills. They know how to lead, solve problems and improve efficiency. Business careers include administrative services manager, financial analyst, accountant, chief executive and postsecondary business teacher.

Salary and Employment Outlook

In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that most bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks earned between $22,940 and $57,920 per year. Further data reflected that logisticians generally made $45,830 to $115,960 annually at that time, while the yearly salary range for most human resources assistants was $25,500 to $55,160. Medical records technicians in 2015 usually brought in between $24,190 and $61,400 per year, as reported by the BLS. Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks are projected to see an 8% job decline from 2014 to 2024 due to improved software reducing the need for bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks. Logisticians are expected to experience slower-than-average job growth of 2% during the same time period.

Bachelor's Degree in Business

Business education at the bachelor's degree level focuses on core business courses as well as a range of other classes like psychology, math, computers, and economics. There are a number of business degree completion programs for students with prior college coursework that are transferrable. Also, like with the associate degree program, bachelor's degree students can choose from several focus areas, including management information systems, entrepreneurship, criminal justice, and management.

With a bachelor's degree, a person majoring in business can enter the workforce as an entry-level accountant, administrative services manager, financial analyst, or a human resources specialist. Those who embark on a management track typically have at least a bachelor's degree, particularly for positions in large organizations. Leadership skills are required, along with financial knowledge in purchasing and sales and the ability to communicate effectively. Managers need to be strong decision-makers who are comfortable interacting with a diverse group of people.

The BLS indicates that the majority of administrative services managers earned $46,430 to $153,570 per year in 2015, while financial analysts usually took home somewhere in the range of $49,450 to $160,760 annually. Between the years of 2014 and 2024, the BLS predicts that administrative services managers and financial analysts will see employment growth rates of 8% and 12%, respectively.

Master's Degree in Business

Accountants and auditors, executives, and financial analysts may have Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees. Graduates with MBAs may also work in consulting for various fields, like international development, healthcare management, or private equity, or they may work in consumer finance, urban planning and development, product development, or investment management.

A MBA program typically takes two years of full-time study to complete, although part-time, evening, and online programs are available. Some schools even offer dual degree programs resulting in two master's degrees or a master's and a doctoral degree. Like in the aforementioned business degree levels, MBA students can choose from concentrations in areas like environmental and risk management, health services, real estate, or statistics. MBA programs are best suited for those who first gain years of professional experience in a business setting. To accommodate individuals with an extensive work history, many schools have executive MBA programs that primarily meet on the weekends or evenings.

The BLS reported a yearly salary range of $41,400 to $118,930 for accountants and auditors in 2015. The same year, most chief executives were said to earn between $68,600 and more than $175,110 annually. The BLS states that employment in the accounting field is expected to grow by 11% between 2014 and 2024; during the same period, chief executives are predicted to see jobs decline at a rate of 1%.

Doctoral Degree in Business

Doctoral degrees in business are primarily for individuals seeking research, executive, consulting, or higher education teaching roles. After choosing an area of emphasis, students often enter into that profession after graduation in a management, executive, teaching, or consulting role. The specific degree earned may vary; common titles include Doctor of Business Administration, Doctor of Philosophy, and Doctor of Professional Studies. These programs are loaded with various courses in research methodology and theory, along with seminars and time allotted for research papers. The beginning phase of the program includes coursework, while the latter half is focused on a dissertation or original research project. The program typically culminates in a comprehensive examination. The chosen area of concentration determines the number of required courses. Earning a doctoral degree can take up to five years depending on the enrollment status.

The BLS notes a 9% employment growth projection for postsecondary business instructors between 2014 and 2024. The majority of postsecondary business teachers specifically earned between $35,370 and $170,640 per year in 2015, according to BLS reporting.

Since a degree in business includes courses in finance, business management and accounting it is an ideal way for those interested in careers as financial analysts, administrative service managers, accountants and executives to prepare to enter the workforce. The median annual salaries in all of these professions exceed $75,000 per year, and with the exception of positions for chief executives, which are expected to decline slightly from 2014 to 2024, all of these professions are projected to experience faster-than-average job growth during the same time period.


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