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What Does it Mean to Study Business?

Careers in business are often more varied than many people realize. When you think about it, industries require a certain level of business acumen and presence. Because the business degree needs to work for a diverse range of industries, business degree programs must introduce students to many different fields and topics in order to touch on the critical elements that make organizations function efficiently.

Students studying business may find themselves learning various business theories and schools of thought, as well as how they apply in the real world. Although a general degree in business doesn't drill down onto a subject with the specialization that more targeted degrees do (such as in finance or accounting), it offers a generalist approach that can still be useful for many careers.

Future students should also note that business careers are on the rise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers for business operations specialists could increase seven percent from 2018 to 2028, compared to just six percent for all other occupations combined.

Types of Business Degrees Degrees

Business programs are often a perfect fit for students seeking the flexibility of online degrees. The concepts and ideas taught in traditional business courses transfer exceptionally well to the online environment.

Many students start their professional training with an undergraduate business or business administration degree before moving into the workforce. Others choose to pursue their education further, earning a master's level degree in business. Certificate programs, associate and bachelor's degrees, and master's degree programs can be found either on-campus or online.

Certificate Programs in Business

A business major who pursues a certificate program in business can expect to receive an introduction to business administration. These programs help students expand key skills and learn the underlying role of business in a modern working environment.

Factors prospective students should consider

Certificate programs in this field are typically best used as a compliment to other degrees that may enhance your education and career.

Type of courses and clinical experiences offered

Courses you can expect to take during this program include accounting, human resource management, and business administration, among others.

Skills students can learn

You can learn how to combine fundamental business concepts with real-world examples that can help prepare students for the ever-changing corporate world. Students may also get the opportunity to enhance their verbal and written communication skills, giving them an edge in business relations.

Jobs related to this degree

Fields you may find work in after this certificate program include:

  • Office Management
  • Human Resources
  • Administrative Assistant

Associate Degrees in Business

If you're not ready to commit to a bachelor's degree but want a business program that is more involved than a certificate program, earning an associate degree in business could make sense.

Factors prospective students should consider

These two-year programs are offered through a range of colleges with business majors, and they are built to help graduates learn skills that can be used in the pursuit of entry-level jobs or future coursework with a bachelor's degree program.

Type of courses and clinical experiences offered

Courses you can expect to take include project management, human resource management, and business analysis and intelligence, although many others may be offered.

Skills students can learn

Skills you can learn with this program as a business major include finance and accounting, business analysis, and customer service.

Jobs related to this degree level

Jobs an associate degree in business could lead to include:

  • Administrative Assistant
  • Customer Service Associate
  • Assistant Store Manager

Bachelor's Degrees in Business

A bachelor's degree in business or business administration is often the minimum requirement for entry-level business careers. These programs introduce students to business-related concepts such as basic marketing techniques, organizational concepts and issues, contracts and negotiations, and the fundamental rules of accounting that drive most business decisions.

Type of courses and clinical experience offered

Courses you may likely take during a bachelor's degree program include accounting, business administration, finance, healthcare management, project management, and basics of marketing.

Jobs related to this degree level

The knowledge can be helpful for the business major pursuing a variety of business-related careers. Jobs you may qualify for after completing this degree program include:

  • Business Analyst
  • Account Manager
  • Sales Manager

Master's Degrees in Business

A master's degree in business or business administration is typically required for business majors who hope to pursue mid-level or upper-management positions within a large company. If you're interested in exploring advanced business and entrepreneurial concepts, a master's degree may also be right for you.

Factors prospective students should consider

MBA programs can be specialized or general in nature. Earning a master's degree in business usually takes about two years and often requires completion of a capstone course, where you may be required to demonstrate an understanding of all the materials and theories you learned throughout your education.

Type of courses and clinical experience offered

Core courses may include organizational design and development, operations management, marketing management, and financial management, among others.

Skills students can learn

During these courses, you may typically learn how to apply business concepts and theories to real-world business environments, as well as how to be an effective leader in the workplace.

Jobs related to this degree

Careers a master's level business major could lead to, include:

  • Financial Manager
  • Health Services Manager
  • Chief Technology Officer

Online or Campus-Based Business Programs?

While it's still possible to earn a business degree through various colleges with business majors, many students opt to pursue an online business degree. Doing so allows these students to pursue their studies at any time or place of their choosing, which can be immensely helpful for students who still need to work full-time, those who care for young children, and anyone who doesn't live close to the college they hope to attend.

Fortunately, online business degrees typically include the same coursework and quality as their on-campus counterparts. Instead of driving to class each day or living on a college campus, however, work is completed using the school's online learning platform as well as tools like online chat, message boards, and webinars.

Financial Aid for Business Students

Students who are pursuing a business major and hope to qualify for financial aid should take the time to fill out a FAFSA form, or a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form can help schools determine how much aid you might qualify for depending on the school you choose, and schools can also rely on the information in this form to help you qualify for student loans and grants.

You can also apply for scholarships, including those that are specifically for the business major. For example, you could apply for the business scholarship from ClubThrifty.com, which grants $1,000 each year to one undergraduate student who writes a short essay explaining how they plan to save money while they're in school. You can also consider the David and Jeannie Price Scholarship, which grants up to $3,000 to students of Louisiana State University's E.J. Ourso College of Business or the University of Missouri's Trulaske College of Business.

Make sure to search for scholarships, grants, and other types of aid that may be available to you.

What Can You Do With a College Degree in Business?

Business degrees can lead to a wide range of careers with varying levels of pay and benefits. The following table shows the top careers in this field, projected job growth and the business degree salary you might earn once you finish your program.

Because a business degree focuses on a broad foundational education rather than specialized training, a business major can apply their degree to a nearly unlimited number of careers. Business graduates typically take on roles in management and marketing, but that's not their only option. There is an increasing need for these types of skills in government, international commerce, healthcare, arts, and nonprofit organizations.

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Human Resources Managers154,800$129,570
Medical and Health Services Managers394,910$115,160
Sales Managers402,600$141,690
Securities, Commodities, and Financial Services Sales Agents437,880$93,090
2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Sales Managers

Sales is one of the most important aspects of any business, and great sales managers help facilitate a company's growth. Sales managers lead and direct a company's sales team, although duties vary from one company to another. Most sales managers analyze both individual and team results. Then, they advise and instruct their sales representatives on how to improve their performance. Sales managers help motivate their team through goal setting and training programs. Additionally, a sales manager may be charged with hiring and firing, assigning sales territories, and maintaining relationships with distributors and customers.

  • Minimum Educational Requirement: A bachelor's degree plus work experience is typically required.
  • Special Certifications or Licensures: Certifications and licensure varies by industry.

Buyers and Purchasing Agents

Buyers and purchasing agents are tasked with buying goods and services created by others that can be resold for a profit. Common job requirements include selecting the appropriate commodities or services, choosing suppliers, negotiating for the lowest price, and awarding contracts that ensure the correct amount of product is received on time. An excellent understanding of consumer purchasing trends within the context of production, distribution, and merchandising factors is important. This job may involve long and unusual hours. Traveling to conferences, trade shows, and to meet with clients may also be required.

  • Minimum Educational Requirement: A bachelor's degree plus on-the-job training is typically needed.
  • Special Certifications or Licensures: Certifications vary by job. Some popular certifications include the Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM), Certified Purchasing Professional (CPP), Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), Senior Professional in Supply Management (SPSM), Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB), and Certified Public Purchasing Officer (CPPO).

Financial Services Sales Agents

Financial services sales agents help companies and individuals conduct sales and purchases in the financial marketplace. As a financial services sales agent, duties may include establishing relationships with new and potential clients, maintaining existing client relationships, advising clients on the purchase or sale of financial securities or commodities, executing buy and sell agreements, monitoring the performance of securities in the market, and analyzing an individual's or company's financial standing in relation to their stated goals. Specializations within the industry include brokers, investment bankers, sales agents, floor brokers, and more.

  • Minimum Educational Requirements: A bachelor's degree is usually required for entry-level jobs. Master's degrees are often required for advanced managerial positions.
  • Special Certifications or Licensures: Licensure is required by the Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA) and varies by job title and duties. Some potential certifications are the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification and the Certified Financial Planner (CFP).

Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers connect an organization's employees with the upper-level management of the company. This means overseeing the company's recruitment and hiring practices, managing the company's benefits programs, consulting with management about employment regulations, handling employee concerns and disputes with management, and making recommendations on how management can utilize the talent at their disposal. Payroll and employee development may also fall under their umbrella of required duties.

  • Minimum Educational Requirements: A bachelor's degree in human resources or a related business field is typically required. Some companies may require a master's degree.
  • Special Certifications or Licensures: Certification is generally voluntary. Some popular associations include the Human Resource Certification Institute, Society for Human Resource Management, International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, and WorldatWork.

Hospital and Health Services Administrators

Hospital and health services administrators make sure hospitals and clinics are running efficiently and on a healthy operating budget. Duties may include improving quality and efficiency, creating and monitoring departmental goals, recruiting and hiring new talent, preparing and analyzing budgets, maintaining facility records, ensuring compliance with legal requirements, and communicating with staff. Hospital and health services administrators can be found working in hospitals, nursing homes, private practices, and most other healthcare facilities.

  • Minimum Educational Requirements: Applicants must hold at least a bachelor's degree, although master's degrees are often preferred.
  • Special Certifications or Licensures: Licenses and certifications often vary by the type of facility being managed.

Business Associations and Organizations

Because a business degree offers such a wide variety of careers and positions, the number of associations and organizations available to business majors varies widely by industry. Certifications and association memberships should be tailored to fit specific careers.

For example, those interested in the field of accounting may wish to pursue the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation offered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Project managers may wish to obtain the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) through the Project Management Institute. Real estate agents are often certified by regional and state organizations.

Additionally, a number of associations and organizations welcome local business people to join their groups. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce seeks to advance the interests of business owners in both houses of Congress. Local Chambers of Commerce can be an excellent place for business people to meet and network with one another. Meanwhile, service clubs like Rotary International, Lions Club International, and Kiwanis International can also be good sources of opportunities for business people to network and be of service to their communities and the global community at-large.

Article Sources
Article Sources

Sources:

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  2. Business Certificates, Capella University. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.capella.edu/online-degrees/business-certificate-programs/
  3. Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2018-28, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Accessed February 13, 2020. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/compensation-benefits-and-job-analysis-specialists.htm#tab-1
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