Whether you’re a recent high school graduate preparing to leave home for the first time or a seasoned professional interested in taking your career to the next level, you may be wondering what type of business degree you need to achieve your goals and dreams. While no field of study is a waste of time or resources, certain degrees and certifications do have more value than others in the contexts of making you more attractive to prospective employers and the pay you can expect to earn.
If you graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, for instance, your employment prospects will include writing for magazines, newspapers, television, and online media outlets, among others. If you earned a comparable degree in nursing, your prospects will probably include healthcare organizations such as hospitals, doctors’ offices, and long-term care facilities instead.
While some degrees and accreditations such as Certified Financial Planner are most meaningful in specific industries such as finance, others are useful across industries. Continuing your studies in business management, for example, provides you with a versatile set of skills and knowledge that can help you succeed in both the private and public sectors. Whether you want to work in corporate America, start your own business, serve in the military, or be the head of a non-profit, having a background in business management can help you stand apart from the crowd.
According to a study released by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, a bachelor’s degree in business administration or business management was one of the top four undergraduate degrees companies hiring in 2016 wanted prospective employees to have.
At the end of the 2011-2012 academic year, 1,791,000 bachelor’s degrees were awarded to students across the nation, with 367,000, or just under 20.5 percent of them, being given to people who had completed their studies in the field of business. In addition, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that the number of associate’s degrees given to students throughout the United States increased 51 percent from the 2003-2004 school year through the 2013-2014 school year. In the 2013-2014 academic year, 11 percent of associate’s degrees were conferred to students who had focused their studies on business, management, marketing, and support services.
Types of Business Degrees
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of management positions in America is expected to increase six percent between 2014 and 2024, with more than an estimated 505,000 new positions becoming available during that decade. While having a business degree is not a guarantee you’ll find employment as a manager or in another position, it does prepare you for whatever role you’re going to take on. In fact, having a business degree can help you prepare and manage your household budget and finances even if you don’t intend to enter the workforce anytime soon.
To succeed in business, you generally need to have certain skills and personality characteristics. You must be able to work independently and as a member or leader of a team, for instance, and you need to have critical thinking skills. You also need the ability to analyze numerical data, recognize industry trends, and develop and implement policies and procedures. Superior written and verbal communication skills are also necessary.
If these aren’t traits you currently possess, don’t worry. Many successful business leaders are not born with these abilities. Instead, they acquire them over time through hands-on work experience as well as formal training and education. Fortunately, classroom and online business degree and accreditation programs can help you to obtain these skills and many others, too.
If you decide to continue your education by learning more about business, there are several types of business degrees you can earn, including the following:
- Associate’s Degree: Students typically earn an associate’s degree in two years, but many online learning centers make it possible to earn this type of business degree in less time because of their flexibility. Many colleges and universities will apply at least a portion of the credits you accumulated while earning your associate’s degree toward the coursework necessary for you to get a bachelor’s degree. For instance, if you had to take Accounting 101 while working toward your associate’s degree, you may not have to take the course again even if it’s part of the required core curriculum you need to complete to earn a bachelor’s degree from another school.
You’ll have the option to take classes in a specific area of study or specialty, such as accounting, business management, and software applications, while you’re working toward your associate’s degree. An associate’s degree typically helps people who are new to the workforce get employment in entry-level positions and management training programs. An associate’s degree can also benefit someone who has already embarked on a career because earning one demonstrates how seriously the individual takes learning in general and how meaningful it is for them to advance further up the ladder.
- Bachelor’s Degree: In general, businesses normally require prospects to have at least a bachelor’s degree for them to be considered for a managerial role, although some will still consider you for a given management position if you have the equivalent work experience. While it normally takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree through conventional means, many online educational providers make it possible for you to earn a four-year business degree more quickly. You can focus your studies in a specific area of concentration such as business management, finance, marketing, entrepreneurship, human resources management, advertising, economics, international business, project management, or operations management.
While pursuing this type of business degree, you will take a wide array of relevant courses, which may include the following depending on your concentration:
- Organizational Leadership
- Business Ethics
- Global Business Strategies
- Business Information Systems
- Human Resources Management
- Small Business Management & Entrepreneurship
- Project Management
- Hospitality Management
- Sales & Marketing
- Business Law
- Supply Chain Management
- Master’s Degree: A Master’s of Business Administration is commonly referred to as an “MBA.” In a traditional classroom setting, you’ll typically be enrolled in a full-time MBA program for two years before you earn your master’s degree. Similar to the degrees discussed earlier, you may be able to earn an MBA faster if you enroll in an online program. Depending on the brick-and-mortar college or university you attend, you may be able to get on a combined bachelor’s degree and master’s degree track which will enable you to earn both degrees in just five years.
A master’s degree can be beneficial to people who are interested in securing a senior level management position in a corporation, government entity, or non-profit organization. You can earn an MBA in a particular field of study such as business management, marketing, or healthcare management.
Your choice of concentration should be based on both your personal interests as well as your professional career aspirations. If you enjoy working with numbers and have dreams of being the chief financial officer or CEO of a Fortune 500 company, you may want to focus your studies on accounting or finance, for example. If you prefer working with people and resolving personality conflicts in the workplace, you may want to concentrate on human resources management instead.
- Doctorate Degree: A program designed for students to earn a Doctor of Business Administration, or DBA, is generally created for people who already have real-life management experience. This means it’s usually not appropriate for most people to pursue a DBA after earning their MBA unless they have an extended work history. DBA programs are designed to teach professionals how to consult and educate others in both corporate and educational settings by increasing their leadership expertise, expanding their knowledge of management principles, and improving their research capabilities.
Depending on whether you enroll in a full-time or part-time program, you can earn a DBA in three to six years. While your curriculum will vary by school, some general classes you will probably take to get your doctorate degree will discuss research and analytical methods, strategic planning, managing change, and solutions-based leadership.
As it is with other business degrees, you’ll have the chance to declare a specialty while you earn your DBA. Some common specialties include the following:
- International Business
- Business Management
- Information Systems
In addition to completing the requisite coursework and passing class-specific tests, you will need to both prepare and defend a doctoral dissertation before you can receive your DBA. You will also need to pass an exhaustive exam prior to getting your advanced business degree.
Benefits of a Business Degree
Even if you have no interest in holding a management position, earning a business degree can still benefit you when it comes to earnings and unemployment. Based on data from 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that median weekly earnings increased for people the further they went in school. The data also revealed that the rate of unemployment for people who hold degrees is lower the higher their degree is.
For example, for people who hold a high school diploma only, the BLS reported median weekly earnings of $678 and an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent. For those holding an associate’s degree, weekly earnings were $798, and the unemployment rate was 3.8 percent. Then for individuals possessing a bachelor’s degree, the median weekly earning amount was $1,137 with an unemployment rate of 2.8 percent.
People who hold a master’s degree enjoyed median weekly earnings of $1,341 and experienced an overall unemployment rate of 2.4 percent. Finally, individuals with doctoral degrees had median weekly earnings of $1,623 and faced an unemployment rate of 1.7 percent.
In addition to increasing the pay you can hope to earn and decreasing the likelihood you’ll be unemployed, having a business degree can give you a competitive edge in the workplace. While no degree or certificate is a guarantee you’ll get a certain job, having credentials another worker lacks may increase the chances you will be hired for a position.
Some professional positions employees with a business degree commonly fill include the following:
- Office Manager: People with associate’s degrees are generally eligible for the role of office manager or administrative service manager. Depending on the size of the business, an office manager may be responsible for overseeing a staff, processing payroll, and hiring, evaluating, disciplining, and terminating staff members. An office manager may also have to prepare reports such as income statements and balance sheets for senior staff members and negotiate terms of sale on behalf of their employer. Put simply, an office manager ensures a business runs smoothly.
- Business Manager: Business managers typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in business, with a concentration of their studies in areas determined by the demands of their industry. Business managers create policies and procedures, oversee staff, and keep an organization on track to reach its business goals. They also manage resources and often have budgetary responsibilities. In larger organizations, business managers develop and implement policies and strategies for the business as a whole.
- Human Resources Director: Human resources directors normally have a least an MBA with a focus on human resources. Human resource directors are responsible for tending to the best interests of both their employer and the company’s employees. While the role of a human resources director continues to evolve and change in many organizations, someone in this position may be responsible for payroll, benefits administration, soliciting quotes for new employee insurance coverage, conflict resolution, and preparing and delivering performance reviews.
- Trader: To advance in this field faster, you generally need to have at least an MBA. If you decide to become a trader, you must be a skilled mathematician. Whether you trade stocks, bonds, commodities, currency, derivatives, or something else, you must be able to make decisions quickly, decisively, and assertively.
- Management Consultant: A management consultant or analyst is normally employed on a contract basis by an organization that is undergoing significant changes such as a merger or downsizing. In this role, you will analyze the current position of a business, review its goals and available resources, and make recommendations about how the organization should move forward. Your role may also require you to participate in implementing your suggestions.
- Project Manager: A project manager is responsible for overseeing an assigned project from its conception through its final execution. Project managers supervise a team that usually consists of employees as well as external clients, vendors, and consultants. They create budgets for their project, attempt to achieve periodic progress benchmarks, and meet deadlines within their budgets.
They must be flexible, able to process vast amounts of information quickly, and be sound decision makers. Project managers must also act as a leader, mentor, and coach to ensure their team remains enthusiastic about projects even when problems or conflicts arise.
If you want to learn more about the different types of business degrees you can earn or you’re ready to continue your education now, check out our business programs here. We offer flexible and affordable business classes in both classroom and online environments which can help you achieve your career goals.
If you’re ready to start or continue learning about the world of business, enroll in one of our convenient classes. We’ll help you learn what you need to know to succeed.