What Are the Requirements for a Career in Business and Management?

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment across all business and financial occupations to grow at a faster-than-average rate of 5% from 2019-2029. Some positions, like financial managers, are particularly in high demand — projected to grow 15% in that same period.

Individuals with business degrees can pursue many roles in the field, including entry-level, mid-level, and C-suite jobs. Some of the most popular job sectors in business include business administration, finance, and marketing.

The following guide explores available business careers for college graduates, including information on requirements, salaries, and professional resources.

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Accounting

Accounting involves recording, summarizing, analyzing, and reporting business and financial transactions.

According to the BLS, more than 1,400,000 professionals worked as accountants and auditors in 2019, making it one of the largest business career sectors. Find more information on accounting career requirements on this page.

According to the BLS, more than 1,400,000 professionals worked as accountants and auditors in 2019, making it one of the largest business career sectors.

Popular specializations within accounting include management accounting, government accounting, and public accounting. Accountants may also work in personal financial planning, forensic accounting, fraud examination, and taxation.

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Business Administration Careers

Business administration focuses on overseeing and supervising business operations. Business administration professionals help organizations attain their financial goals by forecasting earnings and managing departments. Potential job titles for business administration graduates include sales manager, administrative services manager, and management analyst.

Responsibilities

Common responsibilities in business administration include setting departmental goals, coordinating activities, and overseeing employees. Companies in every industry rely on business administration professionals to function efficiently and effectively.

Most business administration professionals work in office environments. They interact with upper management, other departmental managers, and employees. Challenges in this field include navigating the company structure and maintaining team cohesion.

Education

A business administration professional typically needs a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, such as business administration, finance, or human resources. A bachelor’s requires four years of full-time study. Advanced leadership positions often require a two-year master’s degree or master of business administration (MBA). Students may need to submit GMAT scores when applying to MBA programs.

Learn more about areas of study in administration

Other Credentials

Though most business administration careers do not require certification, many professionals pursue voluntary credentials to demonstrate expertise and credibility. Organizations offering specialized credentials for business administration professionals include The Society for Human Resource Management, the International Facility Management Association, and the Institute of Management Consultants USA.



Economics

Economics explores the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. Business economics focuses on financial and market-related issues faced by corporations. Many economists work as researchers, but economics majors can also consider business careers as financial consultants, securities analysts, and investment analysts.

Responsibilities

Business economics majors often find employment in mid-sized and large corporations, where they provide guidance in financial decision-making. Financial analysts commonly assess investments and make suggestions based on current economic trends. Business economics professionals face challenges caused by marketing uncertainty, regulatory changes, and internal financial challenges.

Education

Business careers in economics typically require a bachelor’s degree, which takes four years of full-time study to complete. Some employers prefer to hire applicants with master’s degrees. Students who pursue a graduate business or economics program typically need to take the GMAT before applying.

Learn more about areas of study in economics

Other Credentials

Earning an optional chartered financial analyst certification from the CFA Institute can improve the chances of career advancement. Economics professionals who sell financial products typically need to pursue a required license from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).



Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship focuses on developing and creating new businesses, products, and services. Entrepreneurs must have the ability to anticipate and mitigate risk. Studying entrepreneurship may lead to business careers in management, consulting, sales, and research and development.

Responsibilities

Entrepreneurs identify business opportunities, forecast changes and challenges, and build strategic partnerships. These professionals work in home offices, small local businesses, and large corporations. Entrepreneurs take on the financial risk of business failures.

Education

In many cases, becoming an entrepreneur requires no formal education, though successful professionals possess finance and regulation knowledge. Individuals seeking a formal business career in entrepreneurship often benefit from earning a bachelor’s degree. Master’s programs offer advanced training for business owners or leaders.

Learn more about areas of study in entrepreneurship

Other Credentials

Working in the field of entrepreneurship requires no license. However, individuals who want to demonstrate certain professional competencies can pursue certification. Some certifications for entrepreneurs include the Project Management Institute’s credentials for professionals in risk management, project management, and business analysis.



Finance

Finance professionals can specialize in several areas, including raising profits, leveraging debt, researching investments, or aiding in mergers and acquisitions. Common job titles include financial analyst, budget analyst, and cost estimator. This sector often overlaps with accounting.

Responsibilities

Business careers in finance include preparing and examining financial records, analyzing financial data, and advising upper management on decision-making processes. Finance professionals interact with employees to handle budgets and expenditures. Common challenges include navigating changing regulatory environments and volatile markets.

Education

Individuals can obtain most finance business careers with a bachelor’s, though some companies prefer to hire finance professionals with master’s degrees. Graduate school applicants typically need to take the GMAT.

Other Credentials

As a highly regulated sector, finance professionals pursue several mandatory and voluntary credentials. For example, Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) need licensure from their state’s accounting board. Professionals who sell securities and other financial products need licenses from FINRA. Organizations like the CFA Institute and the Global Association of Risk Professionals offer optional certifications.



Management

Managers oversee employees and businesses. Working in management requires expertise in leadership and communication, along with knowledge of business operations. While similar to business administration, management typically refers to careers with the highest levels of responsibility.

Explore higher education in this field

Responsibilities

Business management professionals plan, direct, and coordinate activities to improve efficiency. Managers may oversee entire companies or single departments, like human resources or information technology. These professionals typically work in offices and interact with employees at every level.

Education

Business degree requirements for managers vary by employer, job title, and responsibility level. A bachelor’s degree satisfies requirements for entry-level opportunities in most management positions. Though employers often fill advanced positions with MBA graduates. Prospective MBA students may need to take the GMAT.

Learn more about areas of study in management

Other Credentials

License and certification requirements vary for managers. Some companies require top executives to hold relevant management credentials. Other managers may seek optional certification to demonstrate expertise. For example, HR managers can seek a Society for Human Resource Management certification, or IT security managers can pursue a certified information security manager credential.



Marketing

Marketing encompasses promoting and selling products and services. In business, marketing professionals can specialize in many areas, such as market research, social media marketing, sales copywriting, or graphic design. Common job titles include sales manager, public relations specialist, and marketing research analyst.

Responsibilities

Marketing professionals develop strategies and techniques to attract customers, maximize profits, and help organizations grow. The field encompasses many different job titles and responsibilities. Marketing involves both creative and technical tasks, such as writing compelling messages and conducting consumer research.

Education

Entry-level marketing careers require a two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree in marketing or a related field. Individuals interested in marketing manager positions should seek programs with internships to obtain experience in the field. While most employers hire candidates with bachelor’s-level education, master’s degrees can increase hiring competitiveness.

Learn more about areas of study in marketing

Other Credentials

Marketing careers require no specific licensure or certification. However, pursuing optional credentials can demonstrate proficiency in specific areas to potential employers. Popular options include the American Marketing Association’s digital marketing, marketing management, content marketing, and sales management certifications.



Supply Chain

Supply chains refer to how large networks of producers, vendors, distributors, and corporations deliver products to paying customers. Common business careers in the supply chain sector include logistician, transportation manager, purchasing manager, and purchasing agent.

Responsibilities

Supply chain professionals may work in offices, manufacturing centers, or shipping facilities. Job duties vary by position but commonly include coordinating activities, analyzing data, and evaluating and improving procedures. Supply chain careers can be challenging and stressful, as mistakes may result in lost profit and customers.

Education

Education requirements can vary significantly depending on an organization’s size. Business degree requirements for supply chain professionals typically include a four-year bachelor’s degree, though some entry-level positions may only require an associate degree. Some employers allow applicants to substitute related work experience for formal degrees.

Learn more about areas of study in supply chain

Other Credentials

Directly transporting goods requires a commercial driver’s license, but most other supply chain careers do not require specific credentials. Workers may decide to earn optional certifications from organizations like the Institute for Supply Management, Association for Supply Chain Management, or International Society of Logistics.



Professional Organizations

  • Association for Financial Professionals, Inc.

    AFP supports more than 7,000 corporate finance and treasury professionals worldwide. This professional society offers two certification credentials and membership benefits, including access to live and recorded webinars, mini-courses, and a collaborative network of peers.

  • American Marketing Association

    As the largest marketing association in North America, AMA connects academics and marketing professionals to various resources. AMA offers certification and membership benefits, including webinars, toolkits, academic journal access, and event discounts.

  • American Management Association

    AMA is an international, nonprofit membership association offering professional development and educational services. Member benefits include discount webinar pricing, access to members-only publications, and invitations to expert-led events.

  • National Human Resources Association

    NHRA provides HR professionals with career development and planning resources. Membership benefits include access to training and development events around the U.S., a career services database, and a cloud-based HR resource center and hotline.

  • Entrepreneurs' Organization

    Founded in 1987, EO is a peer-to-peer network of more than 14,000 entrepreneurs across 61 countries. Members can access chapter and global events, mentorship opportunities, and executive education, plus support from thousands of like-minded peers.

Learn more about business salaries

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What jobs can you get with a business degree?

    A business degree prepares graduates to pursue entry-level, mid-level, and advanced opportunities in accounting, business administration, entrepreneurship, finance, marketing, and supply chain logistics.

  • What are the different levels of degrees in business?

    College students may earn an associate, a bachelor’s, a master’s, or a doctoral degree in business. Each degree level has unique requirements and prepares graduates for different career pathways in the business sector.

  • What degree do you need for a business administration career?

    Business administration careers maintain different education requirements. An associate or a bachelor’s degree enables graduates to pursue entry-level opportunities, while a master’s provides advanced skills for leadership positions.

  • What are the highest-paying business careers?

    The highest-paying business careers typically include top executive positions, like chief executive officers and operations managers. According to the BLS, these business leaders earn a median salary of $107,680 each year as of 2020.

  • Which business careers are in high demand?

    In-demand business careers include human resource specialist, management analyst, and financial analyst. According to the BLS, these roles have faster-than-average projected job growth rates from 2019-2029.

Featured Image: Luis Alvarez / DigitalVision / Getty Images

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