What Can You Do With a Business Degree?

Learn about the requirements for a career in business and management. Here, we outline specializations, educational requirements, and career outlook.

What Can You Do With a Business Degree?

Are you ready to find your fit?

What Education is Needed for a Career in Business?

Careers in business and management offer strong earning potentials and opportunities for job advancement. It's no surprise, then, that business is the most popular degree for college students.

During a business degree, learners build career-ready skills. Programs offer multiple specializations leading to focused career paths. Many business programs incorporate hands-on, experiential learning opportunities to prepare graduates for careers in management or business.

Growing industries like finance, marketing, and logistics hire candidates with business and management degrees. Before launching a career in business, make sure you understand the requirements for your top career path. Our guide walks through the degree levels, specialization options, and earning potential for different business and management degrees.

Questions About Business and Management Careers



What is the difference between business and management?

Business refers to all of the operations necessary to run businesses. Management refers to the narrower field of overseeing employees and setting strategic goals.

What are some of the highest-paying business careers?

Many of the highest-paying careers in business include management jobs like marketing manager, human resources manager, and finance manager. These careers all report median annual salaries over $120,000.

How do I start a career in business?

Earning a business degree helps professionals launch their career in business. Bachelor's business degree-holders work in fields like accounting, marketing, finance, and human resources.

Which business careers are in high demand?

Multiple careers in business report high demand according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected growth rates. Financial managers, market research analysts, and logisticians all report projected growth of 15% or higher in 2020-2030.

Why You Should Get a Business and Management Degree

Both business and management degrees lead to high-paying careers with many opportunities for advancement. For example, management occupations report the highest median salary of any field. That means a management or business degree offers a strong return on investment.

During business and management degrees, learners explore foundational business concepts, organizational behavior, and leadership strategies. Besides hard skills like data analytics and project management, these degrees strengthen in-demand soft skills like communication and leadership.

Within the broad field of business and management, degree-seekers focus their training with specializations. Some options include marketing, accounting, human resources management, and entrepreneurship.

What Are the Educational Requirements for Business and Management?

What degree will you need for a career in management or a career in business? Most business and management careers require a bachelor's degree for entry-level roles. With experience, professionals move into management-level positions. In certain fields, employers prefer candidates with a master's degree for management jobs.

Associate degrees in business and management introduce college students to core business principles. In an associate program, learners take business fundamentals, financial decision-making, and human resources management classes. Undergraduates may also specialize in areas like marketing, accounting, or finance.

Earning an associate degree typically takes two years. Community colleges generally offer the most affordable path to an associate degree. During the 2019-2020 academic year, community college tuition averaged $3,377 per year for in-state students.

A bachelor's-level business degree meets the entry-level requirements for many careers in business. During a bachelor's degree, business majors take core courses and classes within their specialization. Undergraduates choose a specialization based on their interests, strengths, and career goals.

Earning a bachelor's degree generally takes four years. Public in-state college tuition averages $9,350 per year, while out-of-state and private college tuition averages over $27,000.

Master's degrees in business and management provide advanced, specialized training. During a master's program, graduate students strengthen their business analytics, management, and strategic decision-making skills. Besides entering master's programs in specialized subfields, many graduate students in business pursue an MBA.

Most master's programs take two years for full-time students. Some business schools offer accelerated master's programs that take one year. Students can also choose a part-time or online program.

A doctorate prepares business professionals for leadership, academic, and research positions. The practice-focused DBA degree emphasizes corporate leadership skills, while the research-focused Ph.D. leads to opportunities in research or academia. For example, a Ph.D. prepares graduates for jobs like business professor.

Earning a doctorate requires a substantial time commitment. Most DBA programs take at least three years after earning a master's degree. Ph.D. programs typically require 4-6 years.

Business and Management Specializations

Business has consistently ranked the most popular degree for the past decade, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. But within business, degree-seekers specialize in many areas.

Popular business and management specializations include accounting, finance, and marketing. Most business schools also offer degrees in business administration and management. Within these concentration areas, business majors take foundational courses in financial accounting, operations management, and organizational behavior. At the graduate level, students complete advanced courses in their subject.

Each specialization prepares graduates for focused careers in management or business. For example, some marketing majors become market research analysts, while finance majors may become financial analysts. This section introduces some of the many business and management specializations.

  • Accounting

    In an accounting specialization, students learn about cost accounting, financial recording methods, and auditing. An accounting career requires numerical literacy and an attention to detail. Accounting programs strengthen these skills through hands-on, project-based assignments.

    A bachelor's in accounting meets the requirement for most accounting and auditing careers. Accountants report a $73,560 median annual salary, with 7% projected job growth from 2020-2030. That translates to around 96,000 new jobs.

    In certain careers, accountants benefit from a graduate degree. For example, CPAs need 150 postsecondary credits, which many accountants meet by earning a master's in accounting.

  • Business Administration

    A business administration degree trains students to lead teams and oversee projects. As one of the most popular business degrees, business administration emphasizes leadership, management, and supervisory strengths. Students take classes in organizational behavior, business analytics, and strategic decision-making.

    Many business administration programs incorporate an internship or capstone project. Some majors complete both. An internship provides hands-on experience, while a capstone project strengthens in-demand hard skills like business intelligence and planning.

    At the graduate level, an MBA prepares professionals for supervisory responsibilities. An MBA generally takes 1-2 years, and many top business schools offer online MBA programs.

  • Economics

    Economics blends social science and business by exploring the economic behavior of individuals and corporations. During an economics degree, undergraduates take microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics classes. They examine economic incentives, the impact of regulations, and individual decision-making. The degree strengthens analytical and critical thinking skills.

    Economics degree-holders become financial analysts, actuaries, policy analysts, and management analysts. A master's degree meets the requirement for economist jobs. Economists report a median pay of $108,350 per year and 13% projected job growth from 2020-2030. An undergraduate degree in economics also prepares learners for graduate programs in business.

  • Entrepreneurship

    An entrepreneurship specialization leads to opportunities as a business founder, management analyst, or investor. Entrepreneurship undergraduates learn how to create a business plan, recruit investors, and launch a new venture. The degree emphasizes key skills like leadership, financial management, and strategic decision-making.

    As part of an entrepreneurship concentration, learners pursue electives in product design, marketing, and venture capital. These classes help graduates launch careers as business founders, consultants, and new venture developers.

    While most entrepreneurship careers do not require a graduate degree, earning a master's in entrepreneurship or business management may help entrepreneurs advance their career.

  • Finance

    A finance specialization emphasizes investment management, financial market analysis, and financial planning. Finance majors typically take classes in corporate finance, financial management, and financial theory. They study core concepts like data analytics, management, and economics.

    With a finance degree, graduates pursue careers as financial analysts, personal financial advisors, and budget analysts. Financial advisors report a median salary of $83,660 per year, with 6% projected job growth in 2020-2030.

    After gaining experience or earning a master's degree, finance graduates move into management-level roles like financial manager. Financial managers earn a median salary of $134,180 per year. The BLS reports 17% projected job growth from 2020-2030, which translates into 118,200 new jobs.

  • Management

    A management specialization builds the key hard skills for a career in management. Students explore organizational leadership strategies, business decision-making, and supervisory management. The degree also emphasizes soft skills like business communication and organization.

    With a management degree, graduates pursue careers in diverse fields. Depending on their interests, management degree-holders might work in human resources, finance, marketing, or operations. Common job titles include management analyst, consultant, and operations research analyst. Management analysts report a median pay of $87,660 per year, with 14% projected job growth from 2020-2030. A master's degree may help managers move into executive roles.

  • Marketing

    Marketing brings together the analytical and creative sides of business. In a marketing concentration, learners explore consumer behavior, market research methods, and competitor analysis. The degree also emphasizes the strategic side of marketing, including product development and marketing planning.

    With a marketing degree, graduates work as market research analysts. This growing field reports a $65,810 median annual salary and 22% projected job growth from 2020-2030. That amounts to 163,600 projected new jobs.

    Professional experience or a master's degree helps marketing professionals move into high-paying roles like marketing manager. Marketing managers earn a median salary of $141,490 per year, according to BLS.

  • Supply Chain

    A supply chain management or logistics concentration trains graduates for careers managing complex production, transportation, and distribution chains. In a supply chain program, learners explore global logistics management, supply chain strategy, and production management. The specialization emphasizes supply chain management for both products and services.

    Supply chain management degree-holders work as supply chain analysts, operations research analysts, production managers, and logisticians. Logisticians report a median pay of $76,270 per year, with 30% projected job growth from 2020-2030. The high demand for supply chain managers and the diverse career paths make it an in-demand degree.

Career Outlook for Business and Management Professionals

Business professionals with a college degree benefit from diverse career paths. Many business and management careers offer salaries well above the national median. Management careers pay a median wage of $109,760, the highest among BLS-tracked occupation fields.

This section introduces business and management career paths, including median salary data and projected growth rate. Many of the best-paying opportunities require a college degree.

Accounting Careers
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
Financial Clerks $41,520 -2%
Accountants and Auditors $73,560 7%
Financial Managers $134,180 17%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Business Administration Careers
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
Secretaries and Administrative Assistants $40,990 -7%
Administrative Services and Facilities Managers $98,890 9%
Compensation and Benefits Managers $125,130 4%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Economic Careers
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
Economics, Postsecondary Teachers $107,260 9%
Financial Analysts $83,660 6%
Economists $108,350 13%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Entrepreneurship Careers
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
Budget Analysts $78,970 5%
Sales Managers $132,290 7%
Top Executives $107,680 8%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Finance Careers
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
Insurance Sales Agents $52,180 7%
Personal Financial Advisors $89,330 5%
Financial Managers $134,180 17%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Management Careers
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
Management Analysts $87,660 14%
Training and Development Managers $115,640 11%
Human Resources Managers $121,220 9%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Marketing Careers
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
Advertising Sales Agents $54,940 3%
Market Research Analysts $65,810 22%
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers $141,490 10%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Potential and Growth Rate
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2020-2030)
Logisticians $76,270 30%
Operations Research Analysts $86,200 25%
Industrial Production Managers $108,790 5%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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