Business Careers

From banking to financial advising to accounting, graduates in the field of finance and business are able to pursue dozens of opportunities and interests. As a business student, you will master working with numbers, hone your analytical skills, strengthen your interpersonal skills, and develop a keen eye for detail.

Business_Careers

Careers in business and finance may be an ideal choice if you have adapted specialty skills. You can land a career in business at every level of education and experience; whether you are pursuing a specific industry such as real estate, marketing, or insurance, your foundation in business may hold an advantage over competitors in their field.

If you are interested in a career in business, read on. We’ve created this comprehensive guide to help you explore the jobs available in the field and the academic path you’ll take to get there.

There are many factors that affect business employment statewide in the U.S. Generally, the number of business careers in each state is proportionate to state population and available resources in the industry. The top three states for business careers are also the three most populous in the country. California leads business employment in the U.S., with 878,080 employed in business in the state, followed by Texas and New York, with 547,580 and 499,580 business jobs, respectively. As a diverse and adaptable field, business careers differ according to various state characteristics. The following map explores employment statistics in business in each state.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Business Salary Report: Annual Averages by State
Alabama $69,390
Alaska $77,700
Arizona $65,610
Arkansas $60,360
California $81,960
Colorado $75,640
Connecticut $80,570
Delaware $75,910
District of Columbia $93,780
Florida $67,140
Georgia $70,750
Hawaii $64,030
Idaho $63,500
Illinois $72,640
Indiana $62,560
Iowa $61,270
Kansas $65,740
Kentucky $60,580
Louisiana $59,500
Maine $61,150
Maryland $78,840
Massachusetts $82,920
Michigan $67,900
Minnesota $69,530
Mississippi $57,720
Missouri $67,340
Montana $59,880
Nebraska $65,540
Nevada $63,910
New Hampshire $70,730
New Jersey $79,990
New Mexico $62,300
New York $89,750
North Carolina $71,850
North Dakota $59,020
Ohio $65,930
Oklahoma $61,240
Oregon $66,510
Pennsylvania $70,850
Rhode Island $75,710
South Carolina $60,240
South Dakota $61,930
Tennessee $63,140
Texas $75,600
Utah $63,930
Vermont $65,940
Virginia $81,620
Washington $75,910
West Virginia $58,660
Wisconsin $62,780
Wyoming $67,750


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

While studying business, you will have numerous academic tracks to choose from. Business jobs are in high demand for students at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and in countless majors, specialties, and concentrations. From associate business degrees to MBAs, these are just some of the many degree options you have as a business student.

Accounting

Accounting degrees provide an overview of basic accounting techniques and concepts, including financial reporting, asset allocation, and account valuation. Graduates are prepared for careers as accountants, auditors, and IRS agents. You may also become a CPA by taking the national exam to obtain certification.

Business Administration

Programs in business administration teach you how to examine a business’s structural organization and evaluate its data to make qualified recommendations on how to improve performance. You may concentrate in marketing, management, or economics, among other specializations. Graduates may pursue careers including financial management, banking, or investment fund management.

Economics

Economics degrees provide advanced analytical and problem-solving skills designed to be used in conjunction with foundational business, finance, and management concepts. A variety of specializations are available, including managerial economics and economic forecasting. As an economics major, you may continue your education in a specialty or pursue careers in law, business administration, or public affairs, among other options.

Finance

Finance degrees provide an overview of core concepts including investing, budgeting, and implementing structural financial models. Graduates are prepared for careers as corporate or international financiers, bankers, investors, and more. Finance majors may specialize in general finance or real estate, among other options.

Human Resources

Degrees in human resources teach you to maximize human capital within an organization by designing and implementing workforce development and training initiatives and managing staff. This major offers many concentrations, including technology and global business, for example. Graduates are eligible to pursue careers as human resources managers, instructional designers, training specialists, and more.

Information Systems

While enrolled in an information systems program, you learn to use computers and telecommunications networks to provide comprehensive structural support for businesses. Curriculum combines business and finance courses with web development and technical training. Graduates are prepared for careers as IT managers, systems and operations managers, and more.

International Business

International business majors learn how to conduct business with a global perspective. You study world languages, explore how national and international markets operate, and may seek experience abroad to enhance your skills. Graduates are eligible to become importers and/or exporters, currency traders, or international banking officers, among other careers.

Marketing

Business careers in marketing revolve around understanding and fulfilling consumer demands. You will learn how to research consumer behavior in order to develop products and services and promote them to the masses. Business jobs requiring marketing skills include marketing coordinator, sales specialist, and account executive, among many more.

Non-Profit Leadership/Management

If you earn a business degree that involves non-profit leadership/management, you will focus on developing service-based organizations through community initiatives. Coursework in this major incorporates community leadership, cultural issues, and advanced communication, in addition to core business concepts. Graduates of this program may be eligible for careers as executive directors, fundraising managers, or program development managers, among other options.

Public Relations

Business degree jobs in public relations revolve around developing strategic communication strategies to maintain positive relationships between the organization, its key affiliates, and the general public. PR programs are often synonymous with communications or public relations. As a PR graduate, you are qualified for roles such as public relations manager, promotions manager, and public relations director.

Business and the Liberal Arts

Pursuing a career in business does not begin and end with basic business skills alone. A growing number of business jobs now require a unique combination of adaptability and reasoning skills that can only be learned within the context of a liberal arts program. While traditional business degrees teach you about accounting, taxes, and human resources, for example, a liberal arts program can help to expand your cultural awareness, develop critical thinking, and improve social interactions. Such skills are increasingly important for job-seekers in business.

In today’s high-tech world, you want to develop skills that will make you attractive to employers. Liberal arts degrees allow you to explore interactive communication skills and creative expression in a way that is unique to the human experience and cannot be duplicated by a computer. Experts in global business support the idea that these “human” sensibilities are imperative for future entrepreneurs and creative directors, among other jobs in business, to carve their own niche in the marketplace.

The MBA

If you aspire to reach a high-level career in business and administration, you will most likely need to hold an MBA. The master’s-level business degree emphasizes leadership and complex problem-solving, and is designed to provide you with a thorough understanding of the economics, accounting, marketing, and organization comprising the traditional business model. The structure of the MBA varies by school, with many offering concentrations in areas of finance, management, or technology. Some universities have even developed their own signature approach, emphasizing a “raw” format, team-teaching methods, or a global business focus.

The master’s business degree demonstrates advanced qualifications for a wide variety of jobs, as well as for extended study and teaching in this area of academia.

For many employers, the MBA is considered the gold standard of business degrees. The master’s business degree demonstrates advanced qualifications for a wide variety of jobs, as well as for extended study and teaching in this area of academia. Completing an MBA will not only improve your job prospects in the field; if you plan on pursuing entrepreneurial efforts and grassroots projects, you will be viewed favorably by potential investors and/or benefactors if you hold an MBA.

Distance Learning Opportunities

While some business degrees require an on-site internship or practicum, an increasing number of national colleges and universities are adding partial and fully online learning programs designed for aspiring business professionals. Most coursework involving foundational concepts in business and finance can be delivered online, including accounting, economics, and business law.

If you are seeking a career in business with a concentration in information technology or management technology systems, you may be especially inclined to use distance learning technology to complete your degree instead of the traditional in-class method. Even with a required in-person component, distance-based BBA and MBA programs allow you to quickly advance your business career by offering the majority of coursework online.

Distance programs also allow students already working in a business job to study a new specialty, switch careers, or obtain licensure for a special program or service. Most online business degrees with a hands-on requirement allow you to complete the internship or practicum near your residence.

Career Paths for Jobs in Business and Finance

Strong business skills are valuable in any industry, and candidates that are qualified to fill business jobs are always in demand. Deciding to pursue a career in business or finance can open the door to a broader range of professional opportunities with longevity, diversity, and upward mobility for job-seekers at all levels of education and experience. Like most careers, aspiring professionals holding an undergraduate degree are eligible for entry-level employment, while those with an MBA or other advanced degree may be eligible for higher-level management or specialist positions. With so many options, a clear direction is key to achieving the business job you want. These are just some of the most common business jobs at each education level.

Accountants and Auditors
  • Mean Annual Salary: $67,190
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 11%
  • Number of People Employed: 1,332,700

Accountants and auditors prepare financial records for individuals and businesses. They examine financial records for accuracy and efficiency, and help to ensure that taxes are paid on time and that financial statements are compliant with laws and regulations. Skilled accounting and auditing professionals are essential to maintaining financial health of personal accounts, businesses, and organizations.

Advertising and Marketing Managers
  • Mean Annual Salary: $124,850
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 9%
  • Number of People Employed: 225,520

Advertising and marketing managers organize campaigns to promote interest in products and services to the public. They typically focus in a particular area of concentration, with specialized skills in advertising, marketing, or promotions. Managers in this field are responsible for conducting research into consumer trends in order to design, develop, and implement advertising and/or promotional campaigns to sell, and increase awareness of/drive demand for a product or service.

Budget Analysts
  • Mean Annual Salary: $71,590
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 3%
  • Number of People Employed: 60,800

Budget analysts are responsible for helping to organize the finances of public and private organizations and corporations. They may work with other staff within the organization to develop a budget that is compliant and accurate. They also maintain financial health and provide budget estimates for future projections.

Cost Estimators
  • Mean Annual Salary: $71,590
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 9%
  • Number of People Employed: 213,500

Cost estimators generally specialize in a particular industry or type of business. They research and analyze data to provide a comprehensive estimate, including cost, materials, labor, and time, to clients who are looking to construct a building, develop a product, or provide a service to customers.

Financial Analysts
  • Mean Annual Salary: $80,310
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 12%
  • Number of People Employed: 277,600

These professionals help individuals and businesses evaluate investment opportunities and guide them toward sound, lucrative investments. They track the performance of current investments such as stocks and bonds to provide comprehensive recommendations for future investments.

Fundraisers
  • Mean Annual Salary: $52,970
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 9%
  • Number of People Employed: 73,400

Professionals in this field may also be called development directors or campaign managers for a specific event or cause. They are responsible for identifying the fundraising needs of an organization or project, researching potential donors, and organizing events and/or campaigns to raise funds.

Human Resources Specialists
  • Mean Annual Salary: $58,350
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 5%
  • Number of People Employed: 482,000

Human resources specialists are responsible for placing workers in all types of fields and industries. They recruit and screen potential candidates and conduct interviews to match workers with jobs. Professionals in this area also manage employee relations and training, as well as benefits, wages, and compensation.

Loan Officers
  • Mean Annual Salary: $63,430
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 8%
  • Number of People Employed: 24,500

Loan officers may work at banks, mortgage companies, credit unions, or other financial institutions. They are responsible for vetting potential loan customers through a process called underwriting, which includes evaluating loan documents and overall financial status. They also authorize or recommend approval of loans for qualified candidates.

Market Research Analysts
  • Mean Annual Salary: $62,150
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 19%
  • Number of People Employed: 92,300

Market research analysts evaluate potential sales of a product or service by studying current and projected market conditions. They may use tools such as interviews, focus groups, surveys, and other market research to predict what consumers will buy, and at what price, from companies and service-providers. Data collection may include consumer demographic information, market trends, and buying habits, among other criteria.

Real Estate Brokers
  • Mean Annual Salary: $56,860
  • Degree/Certification Required: High School Diploma; some college experience is preferred
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 2%
  • Number of People Employed: 1,500

Real estate brokers are licensed to manage real estate businesses that help clients to buy, sell, and rent residential and commercial properties. They should be knowledgeable about the community and services surrounding their property listings, such as school zoning and major shopping centers, understand potential mortgage and financing options, and be compliant with current zoning and housing laws.

Training and Development Specialists
  • Mean Annual Salary: $58,210
  • Degree/Certification Required: Bachelor’s
  • Projected Job Growth Outlook (2014-24): 7%
  • Number of People Employed: 18,900

Professionals in this field plan and implement training and development programs for employees to help improve their skills and knowledge of tasks required on the job. They first assess the training needs of an organization, then create programs such as lectures, team exercises, or group panels to deliver instructional sessions to employees and staff.

Business Career Job Sites

  • The Business Journals: This renowned national publication encompasses regional subsites for all major cities across the U.S., each including profiles of local entrepreneurs, resource listings, and searchable, site-specific business job boards.
  • CareerBuilder: This popular job site features a searchable “business opportunity” category, with more than 2,500 jobs in all levels of business, finance, and accounting for business job seekers across the U.S.
  • LinkedIn: The Careers page on this popular networking site was developed exclusively for matching prospective candidates with the right job in their field of choice. Searching for business and finance jobs on LinkedIn, candidates can easily research hiring employers and discover new job opportunities all in one place.
  • The Economist: This respected publication and website features a carefully curated job board, including a variety of available career opportunities across the country in subcategories of business. Listings are seperated into IT, government, and banking jobs, among other options.
  • Bloomberg Careers: Bloomberg, among the country’s most respected authorities in global finance, features a Careers page with searchable jobs in business, finance, banking, and more at various high-level organizations around the world.

Continuing Education in Business

  • CFA Institute: This Chartered Financial Analyst organization features a voluntary continuing education program that is customizable, allowing students to create their own activities and track progress on the site. Through the CFA, students may also participate in the mandatory continuing education program required of CIPM association members.
  • CFP Board: This site offers information about local and regional programs for aspiring Certified Financial Planners to acquire the continuing education credits necessary to practice in their area. CFP.net features over 14,000 programs from more than 1,000 qualified providers nationwide.
  • FINRA: The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority offers students the option of completing their continuing education requirements via an online CE program or in-person at various regional test centers across the U.S.
  • FinCert.org: The Center for Financial Certifications offers 10 courses available via online webinars for financial professionals to satisfy continuing education requirements. Applicants may apply for initial certification or renew certification through FinCert.org resources.
  • IMCA: The Investment Management Consultants Association offers online CE broadcasts for professionals in investment and wealth management fields. Each broadcast is pre-approved for one hour of CE credit and allows students to explore a rotation of diverse industry topics through each new course.

Professional Organizations for Business Careers

  • NABMPRO: The National Association of Business Management Professionals strives to connect and provide networking opportunities for managers in this field across the country. Members of NABMPro are eligible to apply for CBMP certification and receive discounts on select services, including NABMPro training and CE.
  • BPA: Business Professionals of America is among the most recognizable business organizations in the country, with 43,000 members across 23 state chapters. BPA offers members the opportunity to participate in co-curricular exercises, regional and national conferences, and online CE courses, year-round.
  • ABWA: The American Women’s Business Association supports networking opportunities for female business professionals, business-owners and entrepreneurs across the U.S. ABWA also offers continuing education options, supports gender-equality initiatives in the workforce, and promotes leadership among women.
  • NBDA: The National Business Development Association counts some of the country’s most elite businesses and corporations among its many members nationwide. The organization offers regular workshops and conferences, as well as CE and university promotions, to share professional business ideas and build leadership skills.
  • NBA : The National Business Association is a members’ organization that supports small business, including start-ups and other entrepreneurial efforts across the U.S. The Association provides comprehensive support to members in the form of economical business resources and financial advice, as well as health-related benefits and a scholarship for business-related education.