Business Law Career Options and Education Requirements

Sep 30, 2019

What is a business law degree? What are some common business law degree jobs? The following article answers these questions and dives into four business law careers - and the educational, licensing, and experiential requirements for each.

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Business Law Degree Jobs - Essential Information

With an education in business law, individuals can choose from a variety of versatile career options depending on their level of study. Some may choose to directly practice as a business lawyer, requiring further study in a Juris Doctorate degree; or choose to apply their expertise in other roles such as a human resources manager or compliance officer.

The following sections cover the education, skills, and experience required for four common business law careers.

Career Type Lawyer Human Resource Manager Compliance Officer Financial Analyst
Required Education JD degree Bachelor's degree (some positions may require a master's) Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree
Licensure State bar exam Voluntary certification FINRA certification FINRA or CFA certification
Median Salary (2018)* $120,910 $113,300 $68,860 $85,660
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% 7% 6% 6%

'Source: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics*'

What is a Business Law Degree?

In a business law degree, students will explore the established laws that govern business organizations, taxes, commercial transactions, and dispute resolution, among others. Some programs may include general business courses under topics such as marketing, operations management, and finance.

A business law degree may also allow specializations in specific area, including:

  • Environmental law
  • Taxation
  • E-Commerce Law
  • Real Estate
  • International trade
  • Indigenous Peoples law

Types of Business Law Careers and Education Requirements

Aside from business lawyers, there are other business law degree jobs that don't involve practicing law. While individuals only truly require a JD degree for the role of a lawyer, the skills acquired from this qualification can still benefit them in other positions where it isn't a necessarily mandatory credential.

Business Lawyer

Those who choose to practice as a business lawyer will typically choose one of two pathways: a role that focuses on trial work and litigation, or a role that focuses on contractual work and business transactions. The former concentrates on court cases related to business disputes while the latter spends much of their time negotiating contracts and drafting agreements (i.e. lease, licensing, etc.). A responsibility among all business lawyers is to counsel clients on general business transactions and any involving issues (such as termination or enforcement).

Business lawyers work in a variety of environments, including:

  • Law firms
  • Federal government agencies
  • Insurance companies
  • Banks
  • Private or public companies as an 'in-house' lawyer/counsel

To be a practicing lawyer, individuals must pass their bar exam and be admitted to their state's bar. Lawyers in 2018 earned a median pay of $120,910 per year (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) and are expected to experience a 6% growth from 2018 to 2028.

Human Resource Manager

Those who have studied business law can also pursue the role of a human resource manager. These are individuals who plan and oversee the administrative, recruitment, strategic planning and payroll aspects of a business. They also handle any conflicts or ethical issues that arise in the workplace, directing the appropriate disciplinary procedures if necessary.

As such, earning a business degree can help them excel in this career; one in business law, in particular, can equip them with knowledge in areas such as employment law and employee benefits. Though a bachelor's degree in human resource management is the most common educational pathway for this career, some positions may require a master's degree. Individuals will also require years of related work experience, with some starting out as labor relations specialists or human resource specialists. Certification is voluntary and can be acquired at associations such as WorldatWork, HR Certification Institute (HRCI), and The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM).

According to 2018 BLS data, human resource managers earned a median pay of $113,300 per year, and are expected to experience a faster-than-average, 7% growth in employment from 2018 to 2028.

Compliance Officer

A compliance officer ensures that business runs in accordance to the laws and regulations of their licenses and permits, and makes sure their licensing requirements are up to date. They inspect the necessary business documents, applications, and records for any liability or eligibility issues; and warn violators of any penalties they may face. Upon completing their review, these individuals typically share their findings with the company's governing body and report any violations to the appropriate board or agency.

Compliance officers typically need a bachelor's degree for their role, though previous experience in a related field is not necessary. Some on-the-job training may be provided. Those seeking work in the securities industry may require certification from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In 2018, these professionals earned a median pay of $68,860 a year, and are expected to grow in employment by 6% from 2018 to 2028.

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts spend their time monitoring stocks, bonds, and business trends, advising clients on their investment decisions. Much of their job also involves analyzing a company's current and historical financial performance, and creating reports detailing suggestions for improvement. They work in a variety of environments, including banks, insurance companies, and securities firms. Studying business law can thus help aspiring individuals build expertise on the regulations surrounding local, international, and online business transactions.

Most financial analysts hold a bachelor's degree. A license may be required for some positions, such as those involving the sale of financial products. Those who wish to work in the securities industry can apply for licensure at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) - the leading licensing organization in the field. Chartered financial analysts can acquire a CFA certification from the CFA Institute.

Financial analysts just starting in the industry typically specialize in a specific investment field, and work their way up to the role of a portfolio or fund manager. According to 2018 BLS statistics, these professionals earned $85,660 per year, and are expected to experience an employment increase of 6% between 2018 and 2028.

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