Salary/Degree Guides

The Ultimate Business Management Career Guide

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Updated: February 29, 2024, Reading time: 30 minutes

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It is necessary for all sorts of business structures, big or small, to have competent managers. These managers play an essential role in the sustainability and profitability of an organization. Whether you are a high school graduate or an entrepreneur, pursuing a business management degree is worthwhile.

The knowledge and skills obtained while earning this degree through either traditional or online schools can go a long way in almost any industry. We hope that this Business Management Career Guide will answer many of your business-related career questions!

Students who embark on the journey to becoming capable business managers in their interest can do it through different types of specializations offered by various schools. These specializations enable the students to customize their studies and help them get to know the right field for them.

business management career guide

They get exposed to different business theories and gain competence in the areas of leadership, legal business, marketing, human resources, and more. There are hundreds of schools that offer multifaceted business management degree programs. What you learn in the classroom will help you explore your areas of strength.

Are you a people person with high regard for leadership roles? Do you take the lead and possess leadership qualities? Do you plan to start your own business? Business Management may be the right program for you!


Grad School Center is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Business Management as a Degree

Business Management is one of the most popular majors among all academic degree programs. This degree program encompasses a wide range of specializations and career tracks. A business management major can help you prepare for a wide variety of roles in any industry. According to NCES.ed.gov, there were 372,000 total business degrees awarded in recent years.

Locations with the highest number of degree recipients are West Frankfort, IL, Schaumburg, IL, and Dayton, TN and places with the highest concentration of degree recipients are Tempe, AZ, New York, NY, and San Diego, CA.

The education you’ll obtain from learning Business Management will equip you with necessary management procedures and tasks, and fundamental management skills applicable to almost all sorts of career fields.


Types of Business Management Degrees

An Associate’s in Business Management is the basic level of degree one can earn in two years. It provides a foundation of business theory and skills needed for business operations. Typically, this degree requires 60-70 credits to finish.

Some of the courses required are Principles of Marketing, Introduction to Business, Financial Accounting 1, Business Law, Business Ethics, and Introduction to Human Resources. Depending on the institution, some associate degree programs are offered with specializations in Marketing, Operations, or Finance.

A Bachelor’s in Business Management takes four years for full-time students to complete. This degree emphasizes students gaining a foundation in the aspects of the business world. Its major requirements include Accounting, Management Information Systems, Leadership and Ethics, Human Resource Management, Marketing, and Economic Principles. Courses must reach from 120 to 124 credit hours for most schools and an internship or research project is necessary.

business management career guide

A Master’s in Business Management helps students develop expertise in Business Management after completing a bachelor’s program. Pursuing this degree usually takes two to three years with full-time study. Core courses include Strategic Planning and Marketing, Operations and Project Management, Managerial Statistics, International Management, and Human Resource Management.

A capstone research project or a master’s thesis project is also required. While there are schools that offer master’s in business management, most institutions offer business management programs through MBA or Master’s in Business Administration. This degree requires 30 to 60 credit hours.

The Doctorate in Business Management degree is the highest level of education for a Business Management program after a master’s degree. Students may choose to enroll in a Ph.D. program in Management or a DBA (Doctorate in Business Administration) which typically takes 3-5 years to complete.

The first two years are spent on coursework like Organizational Analysis and Behavior, Introduction to Research Methods, Probability Theory, and Applied Behavioral Research, to name a few. The faculty then helps or works with the students to initiate research.  Students have to complete data analysis for their dissertation at the beginning of the third year and independently continue research for the rest of the term.


Business Management Specializations

The broad range of career options for business management graduates makes it the very reason why most institutions offer specializations for every business management degree level. Here are some of the specializations of business management, but are not limited to:

Accounting

Accounting focuses on the study of public accounting and examination of tax accounting, auditing, financial, and managerial-related problems. This specialization is designed for business students who do not hold an accounting degree in accounting but want to explore careers in the accounting field. Some of the courses may include Auditing, Financial Accounting, Cost Accounting, and Corporate Taxation.

Managerial Accounting

Managerial Accounting students may sit for the CPA examination depending on the courses offered by the school.

Finance

Finance allows students to learn financial analysis by collecting financial information and preparing recommendations for financial and investing decisions. Courses in this specialization may comprise relevant areas in finance like Financial Management, Investment and Portfolio Management, Risk Management, and Financial Modeling. Students also explore techniques for creating financial forecasts, and international finance, and solve business issues by using principles of finance and accounting.

business management career guide

Marketing

Marketing is designed to provide students with the essential skills and knowledge in strategic planning, marketing research, and analysis, product policies, marketing organization, and other marketing-related topics. It emphasizes the importance of creativity and strong analytical skills. Students explore courses in Retail Management, Sales Management, Advertising Management, Marketing Strategy, and Marketing Research.

Economics

Economics enhances students’ views and a solid understanding of the macroeconomic and microeconomic variables. It also allows students to learn and develop an intensive analysis of economies using statistical tools and data from the business environment.

This specialization strengthens the correlation between economics and finance. Generally, coursework in International Economics, Financial Institutions & Markets, Managerial Economics, and Market Structure is required for this specialization.

Entrepreneurship & Innovation Management

Entrepreneurship & Innovation Management focuses on entrepreneurship in high technology ventures, the development of new business opportunities, and the leadership skills necessary to deal with the challenges of innovation. Courses covered are New Ventures Financing, Social Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital and Banking, and Venture Capital & Private Equity. This specialization is perfect for students who either want to start their enterprise or enhance their leadership or managerial skills for an existing business.

Human Resource Management

Human Resource Management lets students learn more about the selection process of business personnel, the application of foundational human resource skills, and the management of talent or employees. This specialization is excellent for students who want to focus on people-centered leadership.

Human Resource Management, Compensation Administration, Current Issues in Human Resource Management, Human Resource Technology Management, Leadership, Training, and Development, and Strategic Staffing are required to pursue this concentration.

Management Information Systems

Management Information Systems addresses the management of the use and impact of information systems in organizations. With the fast-changing world of business, globalization and information systems have now played a more critical role. This specialization is ideal for students who are interested in the cutting-edge technology that modern companies use in business decisions.

Courses help students focus on digital business transformation through data and techniques that help in managerial decisions. These courses include Research Methods in Information Systems, Introduction to Behavioral Research Methods for Business, Business Systems Analysis, Telecommunications & Networking Concepts, and Database Management Systems.

Operations Management

Operations Management focuses on topics like production control, quality management, supply chain management, quality control, and development of goods and services. Students are equipped with the business intelligence and practical problem-solving skills necessary for managing organizations.

These are achieved through taking courses like Foundations of Operations Management Research, Operations Management & Quantitative Techniques, Project Procurement Management, Topics in Inventory Management, and Stochastic Models for Research in Business and Management.

International Business

business management career guide

International Business delves into business management topics that cover international marketing, finance, economics, and organizational management. Courses in this specialization will help students broaden their understanding of business management across borders and cultural boundaries.

Some of the courses offered for this concentration may cover Global Comparative Management, International Economics, International Business, International Marketing, International Entrepreneurship, and International Business Law.

Project Management

Project Management undertakes specific projects and tackles different techniques and strategies for all aspects of its completion. Students learn how to manage diverse teams, complete projects on time and on budget, and utilize appropriate methodologies in directing the success of business projects.

A student may take courses like Foundation of Project Management, Project Procurement Management, Project Management Strategy, Advanced Topics in Communications for Project Management, and Program and Project Portfolio Management.


Online vs. Brick and Mortar Business Management Degrees

business management career guide

As the evolution of online learning continues to expand, prospective students should look for and enroll in accredited institutions. While brick-and-mortar business management degrees are still present, an online format offers equivalent courses, so nontraditional, continuing, and adult learners experience and learn the same quality of education as the traditional form.

Brick-and-mortar business management degrees give a classroom environment where you can directly interact with the faculty/professors and peers. Several student activities are in front of you for you to choose from.

The online version helps anyone who wants to have the college experience while not being on campus at all. The ultimate challenge of being an online student of a business management degree program is the ability and consistency to manage your own time and be able to follow course schedules and meet deadlines at your own pace.

Online students can work and study at the same time. Classes are guided by their respective advisers, and online participation is done through live video conferences. Also, schools ensure online students are provided with technical support ready to assist them anytime.

Students (of brick and mortar Business Management degree) only leverage against online format is the opportunity to interact with students vis-à-vis which is essential in honing interpersonal and communication skills in the business industry.


Financing Your Business Management Education

business management career guide

The cost of earning a Business Management degree depends on the level of education you want to pursue. One significant factor that determines tuition rates is the student’s residency. Nowadays, there is no escaping from the fact that college tuition is expensive.

According to Data USA, the median out-of-state private tuition for a business degree is $27,220 while the median in-state public tuition is $6,330. But, before you decide to keep from getting into college because of its cost, know that there is about $130 billion available for Federal student aid for the fiscal year 2019 (as per the Department of Education). This includes $30 billion in Pell Grants and $99 billion in student loans. An estimate of over 11 million students can take advantage of these financial aid resources.

There are two types of financial aid: merit-based aid and need-based aid. Merit-based aid is awarded to students by a third-party organization or the institution itself based on their merits and not based on their financial needs. Need-based aid is for students whose family or one’s income and contribution couldn’t cover the total college cost.

Scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study are other types of aid. Scholarships, which do not require repayment, are awarded by individual institutions and private organizations. Like scholarships, grants do not require repayment.

Grants, on the other hand, are offered by the federal and state governments and other service institutions. The federal government offers the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. Federal and state governments also offer loans that must be repaid with interest. Another type of funding is private loans which are provided by banks.

Lastly, the work-study program is for students who can work in federally funded jobs while enrolled in college courses. Most schools let you explore your financial options and provide the necessary application information for financial aid.


Business Management Career Pathways, Information, and Outlook

Graduates of business management degree programs leave the school prepared to join the workforce in a variety of industries. As reported by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, Business Management degree holders can fill the following positions:

Important Info: MBA ACCREDITATION: WHAT’S LEGIT?

Top 10 Business Management Occupations

business management career guide
occupations

Business Manager

An indispensable part of any business, big or small, business managers are responsible for overseeing and supervising a company. They manage the day-to-day operations of a business or organization. Their specific tasks include administrative services, human resources, policies and procedures, and accounts. It is the business manager’s job to direct the activities of workers as well as ensure that every department is on track to meet its financial goals.

Salary: $87,460

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Sales Manager

The head of the sales department or team and sales managers have to set sales goals and how to achieve them. They develop training programs and work strategies that can help improve the sales teams’ records.

Salary: $130,600

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Operations Manager

business management career guide

Operations managers oversee the different operations in the company. They are responsible for managing the daily operations of an office, department, or company through formulating and implementing policies as well as directing particular projects. Their job is similar to that of the business managers.

However, the responsibilities of operations managers are confined to the processes and production aspects alone. They have more specific tasks, like increasing the efficiency of the production machine of the company.

Salary: $123,030

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Financial Manager

The role of a financial manager is to oversee the financial health of an organization. Their tasks include preparing financial reports, directing investment activities, and developing strategies and plans for their company’s long-term goals.

Salary: $139,790

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Marketing Manager

To spark the audience’s interest in products and services, marketing managers are needed in any business or organization. Their duties extend to advertising, promoting, and marketing their offerings by planning programs that can foster awareness and trust in their brands. They usually coordinate with art directors, sales agents, and financial staff members.

Salary: $138,730

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Management Analyst

business management career guide

Often referred to as management consultants, management analysts are the ones responsible for proposing ways to improve their organization’s efficiency. It is their job to advise managers on how to make organizations more profitable. This advice often leads to reduced costs and revenue growth.

Salary: $95,290

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Top Executives

When it comes to devising strategies and policies that will help the organization meet its goals, top executives are needed. They are the ones who plan, direct, and coordinate operational activities within the company.

Salary: $100,090

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Compensation and Benefits Manager

It is the job of the compensation and benefits manager to plan, develop, and supervise programs that will compensate employees. They set the pay and benefits structure and determine competitive wage rates for various compensation plans. It is also their responsibility to prepare a program budget and make sure that it stays within the budget.

Salary: $131,280

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Purchasing Manager

The duties of purchasing managers include overseeing the work of buyers and purchasing agents. They are responsible for buying products that the business will either use or resell to the customers. Their tasks extend to negotiating contracts with suppliers. 

Salary: $75,020

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree


Training and Development Manager

In every business or organization, it is vital to plan, direct, and coordinate programs that can enhance the knowledge and skills of employees. This will help the latter become more productive and play an essential role in achieving the company’s goals.

Salary: $120,000

Entry-level Education: Bachelor’s degree

Other Business Management Occupational Titles:

business management career guide

Part-time Business Management Jobs

business management career guide

Teacher Assistant

Some schools hire Teacher Assistants to help teachers reinforce lessons by reviewing materials with students one-on-one or in groups. Teacher assistants are also known as teacher aides, paraprofessionals, and education assistants.

Teacher Assistant Salary: $30,920


Assistant Managers

The most part-time assistant manager supports the manager with daily store operations. They also assume the manager’s duties in his/her absence. Sometimes, assistant managers help out in responding to customer queries. Most of the time, they set out to accomplish tasks assigned by the manager in an accurate and timely manner. This includes delegating daily workload to employees and ensuring shelves are stacked with new merchandise.

Assistant Manager Salary: $35,506


Retail Sales Associates

Retail sales associates ensure that retail stores are operational. They assist with customers’ queries and sales. Sometimes, they are also requested to take charge of restocking inventory and operating the cash register, if necessary.

Retail Sales Associates Salary: $30,750


Management Analyst

Most management analysts can find part-time work in firms that need someone to improve their operations, maximize profits, and increase efficiency. They are the ones who talk to vendors, executives, and clients to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the business and help the decision-makers improve the situation.

Management Analyst Salary: $95,290


Budget Analyst

Budget analysts are integral in developing an operational budget and evaluating spending practices. Some small firms hire part-time budget analysts to consult with managers and decide on necessary funding. They are tasked to compile this data into a comprehensive budgetary plan.

Budget Analyst Salary: $82,260


10 Unique Business Management Careers

Real Estate Appraiser

Business Management graduates can find an unusual yet satisfying job in appraising properties. Their business and people skills can be put to good use in this kind of situation, allowing them to prepare reports on a commercial or residential property’s value.

Real Estate Appraiser Salary: $60,560


Contract Negotiator

In this job, contract negotiators serve as the mediator between two businesses. They help design contracts that are agreeable to both parties. While some companies employ in-house negotiators, many businesses also choose freelance consultants who can help them draft contracts.

Contract Negotiator Salary: $70,911


Credit Counselor

Through their negotiation and communication skills, credit counselors work with clients to sort out their financial issues. Their job entails gathering information to assess the financial situation and determine an individual’s ability to pay creditors. They help in negotiating debt with creditors, set up repayment plans, lower interest rates, and negotiate late fees.

Credit Counselor Salary: $50,230


Market Research Analyst

It is the market research analysts’ job to study the latest products on the market and help companies determine which ones will be successful. They also establish the kind of buyers for the products and set the market prices.

Market Research Analyst Salary: $68,230


E-commerce Web Developer

Most business management graduates may not expect to find a job as a web developer, but if they have coding and graphic design experience, they can combine it with their business management skills to create and maintain an excellent e-commerce site. Their developer skills can build upon their business prowess to give them a definitive edge over many competitors.

E-commerce Web Developer Salary: $80,730


Event Manager

If one does not feel like managing a business, managing an event is the next best thing. It is also exciting, especially for those who have social skills. Event managers are responsible for planning events, parties, and company meetings.

Event Manager Salary: $52,560


Public Relations Specialist

Most companies hire public relations specialists to help them plan public events, set up interviews, and improve the public face of the company. They serve as the liaison between the employer and the clients or the public. They are responsible for establishing a good relationship with news media, consumers, local communities, and even the government.

Public Relations Specialist Salary: $67,440


Loan Officer

Loan officers help clients deal with financial milestones like paying for a college education or buying a new house. They can find positions in a variety of settings, from commercial banks and credit unions to mortgage companies and car dealerships. The best loan officers have excellent interpersonal skills and know how to advise, evaluate, and authorize loans to people and businesses.

Loan Officer Salary: $65,740


Fundraiser

business management career guide

Commonly employed in nonprofit organizations like educational institutions and health research foundations, fundraisers are tasked to bring in money by making cold calls, writing grants, and organizing fundraising events.

Fundraiser Salary: $61,190


Social Media Manager

Business management graduates who have mastered the use of digital technology can find many job opportunities in the digital marketing field. With their background in marketing, they will be able to help increase brand awareness among consumers through the use of social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They should be able to create effective marketing campaigns and give direction to writers and other marketing teams.

Social Media Manager Salary: $64,375


Top Travel Business Management Careers

business management travel jobs

Business Consultant

Consultants are indispensable to many companies. They are responsible for fixing problems within the organization. Since clients are usually spread across the globe, being a business consultant affords many business management graduates with travel opportunities.

Retail Buyer

Those who are in the retail industry can avail of travel opportunities as they hop from branch to branch and oversee store inventory. They also have a chance to travel all over the world when they attend vendor meetings, trade shows, and conferences which are essential in many business decisions. It is quite common in the fashion industry as well as e-commerce and department retailers.

Construction Manager

As someone who oversees the process of new commercial and residential buildings, a construction manager can sometimes manage multiple projects in various cities. Because of this, they spend considerable time traveling from one project site to the next and making sure that requirements and goals are met.

Management Analyst

Management analysts often travel to clients’ offices and work with them to improve their business processes. Some companies are situated abroad so this will afford them a lot of opportunities to travel internationally.

It is the management analysts’ job to examine financial records, observe personnel at work, and meet with them to discuss business. Entry-level positions would typically require at least a bachelor’s degree; some companies prefer graduates with a master’s degree.

Public Relations Manager

Combining a lot of traveling with work is a common occurrence in a public relations manager’s life. They often assist clients with projects for promotion and image-building purposes, including writing press releases, developing procedures for media inquiries, and creating advertising and promotional campaigns. Most of the time, public relations managers need to travel to another city or country to meet with clients.

Is Business Management right for me?

Generally, graduates of an associate degree in Business Management may well be qualified for entry-level jobs. Positions could be executive assistant, sales assistant, or sales associate.

The list above more likely requires either a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree depending on the qualifications from the company. Doctors of Business Management focus on conducting in-depth research and landing teaching careers in prestigious universities and colleges.

When considering a college program, you must first reflect on your reasons and goals. If you’ve been thinking about getting into the business world, then it’s probably the right track for you. Business management presents a wide array of choices.

You have to be sure of your choice or decision and whether it matches and aligns with your personality or not. You also have to envision your career. Get to research and know what the best program is for you.

If you have people skills, are a good leader, and enjoy conversations with different people, Business Management is the right program for you. If you enjoy multi-tasking, Business Management exposes you to careers that let you do that.

What are the Admission Requirements?

Often, online program applications differ from those of on-campus programs because they come on a rolling basis. Applicants are assessed on a first-come-first-served basis until classes reach their maximum seats. They also impose “technical requirements” as specifications of the student’s operating system, internet connection, soundcard, hard drive space, and processor, to mention a few.

To be considered for admission, here are some of the standard entry requirements (per degree level):

First-year applicants for an Associate’s degree in Business Management are required to submit a high school or a General Education Development or General Education Diploma (GED) transcript. If you have attended another institution, an official college transcript is required.

First-year applicants for a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management may need to submit a completed application for admission, an official high school transcript, SAT/ACT results, a personal essay, and letters of recommendation. For transfer students, the same application materials are required with the official college transcript and a transfer essay prompt.

Applicants for a Graduate degree in Business Management need to submit a completed application, an official transcript from each undergraduate or graduate institution they have attended, a personal essay or statement, resume or CV, letters of recommendation, and Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores.

What are the top qualities and skills can I acquire from earning a Business Management degree?

These qualities, skills, and traits are necessary for becoming successful in the business management field:

Consistency. A good manager should demonstrate consistency in giving guidance to organization members or employees. By being consistent, you can ensure higher levels of productivity, and increased levels of comfort, and promote employee understanding. In turn, your people understand, respect, and stand by you as their manager.

Excellent leadership skills. Being at the Business Management level requires you to be a leader who possesses good interpersonal skills and influences others toward reaching organizational or company goals. A good leader must also possess decisiveness. This translates to making good judgment and well-informed decisions.

Competitiveness. Capable managers don’t just seek to beat the competition; they strive to learn from them. They set goals and build persistence within the team using techniques that lead to those goals that help individuals in the organization grow professionally while promoting social intelligence which is essential to fostering great work relationships.

Solid communication skills. A good leader must promote effective communication. They meet different types of individuals at any organizational level. The clarity in expressing ideas and information, listening skills, and visibility make an excellent communicator. Employees feel comfortable, and confusion is reduced when there is good communication within the organization.

Professional integrity. Honest and ethical, a Business Manager is expected to do the right thing for the right reasons. If you continuously examine your motivations before making managerial decisions and you value the rules that the company or organization lives by, you make a great Business Management professional.

What is a typical Business Management coursework?

The undergraduate Business Management program has one of the most comprehensive coursework. Its coursework typically incorporates a broad group of interdisciplinary topics. Depending on the institution, the curriculum is designed to provide hands-on or practical learning and discuss issues in subjects that are related to your specialization.

The program will likely include the following:

Principles of Accounting presents the accounting cycle, financial statements, the theoretical framework of accounting, the role of accounting in costing, investment decisions, and the financial environment. Future managers are trained to use tools to achieve the financial health of the company including income statements, cash flow, balance sheets, and retained earnings statements.

Business Ethics introduces moral principles, and ethical issues related to business, law, business activities, and social responsibility. This also tackles the diverse environments of businesses.

Principles of Marketing is all about the fundamental principles in business, products and services, customer behavior, pricing, channels of promotion, and distribution. It is meant to provide students with a basic understanding of different business decisions concerning marketing strategies.

Human Resources Management covers principles and systems of effective management of human resources in an organization. It includes techniques in administrative issues, selection, planning, job and performance evaluation, labor organizations, and managing the diverse environment of a workplace.

Managerial Economics provides basic concepts of microeconomics and macroeconomics which deal with subjects like scarcity, supply, and demand, competitive market conditions, opportunity cost, and economic growth.

Organizational Behavior and Development studies individual and group behavior in an organization. This also covers diversity, leadership, decision-making, and corporate design and development. Students will also learn strategic planning, conflict in management, and dealing with individual differences in a team.

How significant is a master’s or doctorate in business management?

Pursuing a graduate degree in business management leads to real career success. An undergraduate degree may get you to in-demand jobs, but earning a master’s or a doctorate can help you excel even more. In graduate studies, you’ll learn in-depth research.

A flourishing business needs to know what the market needs and this is where vital research comes in. Another importance of getting into graduate studies in business management is the fact that it can lead you to discover and explore the finer points of data analysis. A business may mainly be about making a living, but when you are an expert, you know there are more patterns and intricacies to help the company reach its goals and become truly successful.

Besides gaining highly desirable skills, getting a graduate degree brings forth excellent job security and higher earnings. MBA or doctorate holders can expect to get salaries that are twice as much as a regular college degree. The opportunity to consort with a strong business network is another advantage of having a graduate degree. The connections you’ll make will give you an even greater overall picture of the business world.

Trending: The Highest Paying Business Management Jobs and Salaries

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