Business Degrees, Majors & Careers
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What Is Business?
Many business professionals work for companies and organizations engaged in professional, industrial, or commercial activities. Professionals in this industry may find employment with small businesses — including start-ups or independently owned companies — or large corporations with national and international dealings.
Graduates can pursue a business career after earning a degree at just about level, from an associate degree to a doctorate. Professionals often specialize in business administration, business management, and financial services.
Business degrees can open the door to various engaging careers, many of which have competitive salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that business and finance careers will grow by 8% from 2020-2030 — about as fast as the national average for all occupations.
What Is an MBA?
A master’s in business administration (MBA) is a common graduate degree for professionals looking to advance their careers. Enrolling in a top MBA program helps students learn high-level skills in leadership, communication, and management. Professionals with this degree often earn higher salaries than their counterparts in similar positions who only hold a bachelor’s.
MBAs are highly popular degrees because students can specialize in an area relevant to their line of work. Common specializations include:
Frequently Asked Questions About Business
What jobs can you get with a business degree?
A business degree can open the door to many different jobs. Common business careers are found in marketing, sales, business administration, and finance. Students may pursue degrees directly related to these fields or enroll in a more general business program.
Careers in business require varying levels of degree. For example, administrative assistants typically only need an associate degree to find an entry-level career. In contrast, accountants and auditors typically need at least a bachelor's degree to enter the workforce.
What business field pays the most?
Many careers in finance rank among the top-paying in business. For example, according to the BLS, financial managers earned a median annual salary of $131,710 in 2021. Other high-paying business careers include upper management positions, such as CEO and CFO.
Students should note that salary levels differ depending on many factors, including an employee's level of education and experience, the location of their job, and the size of their employer.
Do I need a business degree to start my own business?
Becoming a small business owner does not require a business degree. Most small business owners do not have a business degree but come from a variety of educational backgrounds. However, earning a business degree or taking individual business courses may prove helpful for individuals with little practical experience in business.
In general, professionals do not need to pursue an MBA when starting a business. However, some professionals may choose to pursue an advanced business degree to build critical skills in their field.
Are business programs hard?
Earning a business degree can be difficult, depending on the subject and degree level. Preparing to become a certified accountant, for example, often proves difficult because students must pass certification exams as they continue their studies.
Other degrees, such as an associate degree in business administration, may not be as strenuous. However, associate programs do still impart many important practical skills to prepare graduates for the workforce.
The difficulty of a degree program may also depend on the individual university and the type of program. For example, a self-paced online business program may be less stressful than an accelerated degree program.
Is an MBA worth it?
Deciding whether an MBA program is worth it depends on many factors, including a professional's career goals and the type of MBA they're considering. An MBA requires a significant investment of time and money, and not every business career requires an MBA for advancement. Individuals should assess their own goals and potential career path before enrolling in an MBA program.
However, many professionals do benefit from pursuing an MBA. Some of the top MBA jobs in 2021 include:
How long does it take to get a business degree?
The length of a degree program varies depending on the type of degree and the type of program. In general, an associate degree takes two years of full-time study to complete, while a bachelor's degree takes four years. A graduate degree program may take anywhere from 1.5-4 years.
The type of program can also influence how long it takes to earn a degree. An accelerated program allows students to earn their degrees more quickly. Alternatively, enrolling in a part-time or self-paced option may prolong the degree timeline but provide more flexibility.