Is a Business Degree Right for You?

An online bachelor’s degree in business is a good fit for students who know exactly what type of career they want as well as those looking for career versatility. While concentrations in accounting or marketing can lead to highly-specific business careers for students on a clear-cut career path, a general business degree also allows students to keep their options open for careers in a variety of areas, including sales, management, finance, business writing, real estate, and entrepreneurship.

In addition, nearly every industry needs professionals with broad business skills, from insurance to health care to high-tech. For this reason, a business degree is also ideal for undecided students.

Advice for Earning Your Business Degree Online

Since business is one of the most popular majors and one of the most common degree programs offered online, prospective students should take extra care when evaluating which programs are high quality. Verify that the institution offering the degree is not only institutionally accredited, but that it has also obtained specialized accreditation for its business programs or school of business.

Accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is considered by many to be the gold standard in business school accreditation, but a business school may also hold accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) or other respected accreditors. We also recommend choosing a degree program that requires or encourages internships and features a wide range of business electives to expose to students to specialized areas of business.

Required Courses

Business students start out taking a general business core, which includes introductory courses in management, finance, accounting, marketing, economics, and business law and ethics. Many business degree programs conclude with the completion of a capstone project, business plan, or portfolio. Upper-level business courses often depend on the specialization a student selects, but some courses you may need to take in a general business curriculum include:

  • Organizational Behavior
  • Management Information Systems
  • Operations Management
  • Global Marketing
  • Business Negotiation
  • Managerial Accounting

Common Career Paths

Business school graduates often start out in entry level work as IT associates, business analysts, sales consultants, manager trainees, sales representatives, or account executives, and slowly work their way up to supervisory or management occupations.

Salaries for these careers vary greatly depending on the graduate’s experience, the size and type of company they work or, the region of the country they live in, and the complexity of their roles and responsibilities. Some popular jobs for business majors include (but are not limited to):

Sales Managers

  • Expected Growth: 12%
  • Average Annual Salary: $116,860

Sales managers direct an organization’s strategy for making sure goods and services continue to flow to customers. They may oversee distribution and logistics, set sales goals and quotas, develop and implement training programs for the sales staff that they oversee, and direct the work of regional and local sales managers, among other tasks.

While most sales managers have a bachelor’s degree, proven experience in sales is typically a must for these top-level positions, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Courses commonly found in business programs, such as business law, management, accounting, and others, are valuable for those pursuing a career in sales management. The above job outlook and salary figures are provided by the BLS.

Human Resources Specialist

  • Expected Growth: 21%
  • Average Annual Salary: $58,890

Human resources (HR) is a fast-growing career that involves the recruiting, hiring, training, and retention of qualified workers. Human resources specialists work in nearly every industry, from large corporations, to nonprofit organizations, to the government, where they educate employees on their benefits, interview job candidates, handle grievances, and manage employment paperwork.

A bachelor’s degree is a typical requirement for this occupation, and a business degree that includes course work or a specialization in HR is beneficial to help prepare people for these roles. The employment growth and salary figures provided above were taken from the BLS.

Financial Analysts

  • Expected Growth: 23%
  • Average Annual Salary: $87,740

Financial analysts who work on the “buy side” of the industry make recommendations to organizations as to the best ways they can invest their money based on their analysis of past investment performance, current trends, and informed predictions. On the other hand, financial analysts on the “sell side” provide financial advice to those who sell stocks, bonds, and other investments, the BLS explained.

A minimum of a bachelor’s degree in an area of business is expected to enter careers in financial analysis (although MBAs are also common), and an emphasis in finance would be most appropriate. The above salary and job outlook figures were derived from the BLS.

Market Research Analysts

  • Expected Growth: 41%
  • Average Annual Salary: $67,130

Market research analysts research domestic and international markets; identify market trends at the local, regional, and national levels; collect relevant data; and communicate that data in reports that can then be used by upper management to make strategic business decisions. Market research is essential so that organizations know the markets that are best-suited for a particular product or service.

While a business degree can prepare you for positions in market research, strong quantitative and math skills are a must for such positions, and some positions do require a master’s degree, the BLS explains. The above employment growth projections and salary figures are provided by the BLS.

Personal Financial Advisors

  • Expected Growth: 32%
  • Average Annual Salary: $90,900

Personal financial advisors look over a client’s unique financial situation and provide recommendations on how they can invest their money, reduce debt, insurance themselves against loss, and make progress toward specific financial goals. Some financial advisors help everyday people save for retirement or for their children’s college educations, while others, called private bankers or wealth managers, specialize in managing the investment portfolios of very wealthy clients.

A bachelor’s degree in business or a related area like finance or economics is a good choice to prepare for a career in financial advising, although these professionals will also need to maintain licenses in their state to sell securities like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, the BLS explains. The job growth projections and salary averages listed above are provided by the BLS.

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