Earning a degree in business management can lead to a variety of business management careers and jobs. Companies in most industries — including advertising, public relations, information technology, financial services, and manufacturing — employ business managers who can perform under pressure, direct operations, motivate staff, and set big-picture goals.
Many types of organizations pay top dollar for knowledgeable and skilled managers and executives. Managers across industries earn a median annual salary of $104,240, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Before advancing to leadership positions, business and financial professionals earn a median salary of $68,350 per year, according to the BLS, which is about $30,000 more than the national average for all occupations.
To land a management position, business students should begin researching job opportunities well before graduation. Since graduates can pursue many careers with a business management degree, students should consider which positions and industries interest them the most. The guide below explores business management careers, degrees, salaries, and resources.
Skills Gained in a Business Management Program
While business management curriculums vary by school and education level, many programs cover similar skills and concepts. Typically, business management students learn to supervise employees, direct an organization's operations, evaluate performance, and reach organizational goals. While learners develop these skills in school, they can also hone their abilities after graduation through professional training programs and certifications. Below are some key business management skills.
Through programs in business administration and management, future managers develop the leadership skills they need to run departments and oversee teams. They study common leadership strategies and develop a unique leadership style. Business management programs teach students to set organizational goals, motivate teams, and manage change within a company.
Business managers need sound decision-making skills in order to steer organizations in the right direction. Business students learn to analyze situations, factor in important data and information, and make strategic decisions. They also learn to consider the moral and ethical ramifications of decisions.
- Personnel Management
Business management professionals, especially those who specialize in training and development, need to foster collaboration in the workplace. Business administration programs often cover strategies for supervising personnel, motivating employees, and assembling effective teams. Additionally, programs teach students the basics of human resource management and development.
- Analytical Skills
Professionals in many business management careers must analyze situations and craft solutions. Marketing managers may need to develop strategies based on consumer trends, while information technology professionals must analyze technology issues. Business management programs help learners develop the problem-solving abilities necessary to approach a variety of business scenarios.
- Communication Skills
Business management students learn to effectively convey ideas orally, verbally, and through visual presentations. Business administration programs often include courses on business writing and public speaking. Business professionals often need to meet individually with clients, participate in conference calls, and present during large meetings.
Why Pursue a Career in Business Management?
Business management degree programs attract ambitious students looking for a rewarding career. Many business professionals enjoy the high level of responsibility that comes with an upper-level management position. By contributing to organizational leadership and strategy, business managers often play a critical role in the success of their division or company, which can be incredibly gratifying.
Earning a business management degree can create ample opportunities for professional growth. While business professionals typically enter the field in associate or specialist positions, a business management degree allows graduates to assume more responsibility. A management degree demonstrates that a worker is qualified for supervisory roles. Additionally, graduates can apply their management degree toward jobs in a variety of industries. Business management degrees provide a broad skill set that can help professionals switch industries.
How Much Do Business Management Majors Make?
While management tends to be a lucrative field, many factors affect salary potential for business management graduates. For example, some industries pay more on average than others. According to the BLS, managers involved in securities and similar financial investments earn an average annual salary of $193,690. Managers who work for oil and gas extraction companies earn an average of $168,190 per year.
Location, experience level, education level, and career all impact a business managers earning potential. The table below includes salary information for a small sample of possible business management careers and jobs.
|Job Title||Entry Level
|Human Resources Manager||$49,000||$58,000||$66,000||$71,000|
Interview with a Professional
Nick Ducoff is the co-founder and CEO of Edmit, the SXSW EDU award-winning company helping families make smarter college financial decisions. Nick has been quoted by the Wall Street Journal, which described Edmit as "a website that predicts aid packages and provides advice on the value of different colleges." Previously, Nick was a vice president at Northeastern University, a founder/executive at two startups that were both acquired, and an attorney. He received his JD with honors from the University of Texas and his BBA from Emory University.
- Why did you decide to pursue a degree and a career in business management? Was it something you were always interested in?
One of my grandparents was a businessman and another was a lawyer. I wasn't sure which I wanted to be, so I sought foundations in both. I applied to colleges with undergraduate business programs and planned to attend law school after graduating.
- What did your career path look like after graduating? How did you end up where you are now?
I attended law school after college but found law school wasn't really for me. The dean of the law school (Bill Powers, who became president of the University of Texas at Austin) and my dad encouraged me to stick it out, which I'm glad I did. I graduated with honors and then practiced law at a big firm, where I was able to marry my interests in business and law, working with startups and venture capital firms. I got the entrepreneurial bug and left a very lucrative and rewarding law firm to start my first company. That company was acquired, as was another startup I did after that. I was recruited to lead new ventures at Northeastern University, where I started the first university coding bootcamp in data analytics. I saw how students struggled to understand how to evaluate the return on investment of their education, so after three and a half years as vice president at Northeastern, I started another company, which I'm now the CEO of, called Edmit, which helps families make smarter college choices.
- What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your work? And challenging?
I love making a positive impact on people's lives, so the past seven years in higher education have been very rewarding. One customer recently said, "You gave me a lot of hope and confidence for my current financial dilemma." We hear feedback like that every day, which is awesome. The work is also very challenging, but if it wasn't, it wouldn't be as much fun.
- What advice would you give to students considering a career in business management?
According to the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, business majors are among the highest paying, leading to average annual wages of $37,000 or more at the entry level and an average of $65,000 or more annually over the course of a career. Obviously, money isn't the only reason to choose a major, but if career earnings are important to you, business, STEM, or health majors might be a good choice. A business major is also very versatile.
- What would you say are some of the most important skills required to work in a business management position?
The concrete skills you'll get from a business degree such as accounting or finance might not be as important as the soft skills you'll pick up from your group projects, such as negotiation, time management, and teamwork, according to an article by Monster.
- Any last thoughts for us?
When you're ready to start your first company or if you're looking for a job at a startup, look me up and I'd be happy to help!
How to Succeed in Business Management
While some office positions require only a high school diploma, business professionals often benefit from holding at least an associate degree in the field. Associate in business administration programs prepare students for administrative positions through basic coursework in word processing, communications, accounting, and human resources.
Bachelor's programs in management teach students more advanced leadership, strategy, and decision-making skills they need to land a mid-level job in many business fields. Master's programs in management and organizational management build on bachelor's-level skills and prepare students for high-level roles in their organizations. A doctorate enables business professionals to work in academia and may help them succeed as chief executives.
Business professionals generally need significant work experience to advance from an entry-level role to a management position. Employers prefer managers with years of experience as a specialist or an associate in their field; however, some companies waive experience requirements for candidates with a master's in management or a similar graduate degree.
Since many organizations expect managers to have considerable professional experience, pursuing internships and apprenticeships during college and after graduation can help candidates stand out to employers. In addition, some business management jobs require professional certifications.
Licensure and Certification
While business management professionals do not typically need a license or certification, earning an industry credential can help recent graduates impress employers and stand out among job seekers. Some specialized certifications demonstrate competency in niche areas, such as recordkeeping, finance, human resource management, and employee development.
Administrative Services Management
International Facility Management Association
IFMA delivers six professional certifications for entry-level and experienced facility managers. The sustainability facility professional credential demonstrates expertise in environmentally conscious practices.
Institute of Certified Records Managers
The ICRM offers two certifications for records and information management professionals. Professionals can earn the entry-level certified records analyst credential or the more advanced certified record manager designation.
ARMA, a professional association for records and information managers, offers an information governance professional certification. The credential demonstrates expertise in areas including archiving, compliance, and information technology.
Human Resources Management
Society for Human Resources Management
SHRM's certified professional credential verifies the recipient's ability to perform basic HR functions. The senior certified professional designation demonstrates competency in HR strategy and performance analysis.
HR Certification Institute
HRCI administers eight certifications for HR professionals in various career stages. The organization offers credentials for early-career, mid-level, and senior HR workers operating internationally.
This organization offers several credentials for compensation and total rewards specialists. Managers can pursue certifications in areas including compensation, executive compensation, and benefits.
CFA Institute, a professional organization for investment management workers, offers a chartered financial analyst certification. The credential indicates advanced skills in investment analysis and portfolio management.
Association for Financial Professionals
Finance professionals can pursue AFP's certified treasury professional or certified financial planning and analysis professional credentials. Both require an exam, along with 2-3 years of work experience.
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Becoming a certified public accountant lends business management graduates credibility and enables them to file documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Training and Development Management
Association for Talent Development
ATD offers 40 certificates for business management graduates entering the talent development field. ATD delivers certifications related to fields including coaching, consulting, instructional design, and leadership development.
International Society for Performance Improvement
Through ISPI, business graduates interested in performance improvement can earn the certified performance technologist, certified developer of training, and certified facilitator of training designations.
Concentrations Available to Business Management Majors
Since business management is such a broad field, many students pursue a concentration area. Earning a concentration can help graduates impress employers and land specialized positions. Students may focus on an area such as project management, nonprofit management, or human resource management. Learners interested in working at an investment bank or insurance company may consider concentrating in financial management. While each school offers slightly different concentrations, below are some common options.
- Finance: Students who pursue a finance specialization may find work in corporations such as banks, lending institutions, and other financial services companies. A finance concentration generally includes classes on financial markets, investments, and corporate finance. Learners also may explore venture capital and private equity.
- Marketing: Business management majors who focus on marketing learn to effectively promote products and services through product design, pricing, advertising campaigns, and social media strategies. Marketing concentrations may also build market research skills related to consumer behavior and sales forecasting. Graduates with a marketing specialization often pursue careers in independent marketing companies and corporate marketing departments.
- Global Business: This concentration typically explores many aspects of business — including finance, marketing, communication, and leadership — from an international perspective. Students learn to negotiate with foreign companies and suppliers, lead culturally diverse teams, and strategize for multinational companies. Learners also explore global monetary policies and emerging markets.
- Entrepreneurship: Business students planning to build a new business venture, work at a startup, or manage a small business often benefit from concentrating in entrepreneurship. Through entrepreneurship classes, aspiring business owners learn to draft business plans, obtain funding, and turn ideas into thriving enterprises.
What Can You Do With a Business Management Degree?
Like professionals in most fields, business management graduates can attain different positions depending on their level of education. Associate degrees cover basic business and management topics and prepare students for entry-level positions. With an associate degree in business management, graduates can begin their business career through an administrative or clerical job.
Bachelor's degree holders generally have more career opportunities, since many jobs in business and finance require a four-year degree. Accountants, budget analysts, human resources specialists, and management analysts need a bachelor's education.
By gaining years of experience in their department, professionals can advance from an entry-level job to a senior leadership position. Additionally, many employers require or expect upper-level managers to hold a master's degree in management, business administration, or a closely related field. The following sections explore business management and administration career clusters for various education levels.
Associate Degree in Business Management
Associate degrees in business management qualify graduates for entry-level administrative positions. Typically, associate degree holders can find positions as administrative assistants, executive assistants, food service managers, and office clerks. Graduates can also work as bookkeepers, office managers, and HR employees. Professionals usually need to gain experience or pursue additional education to advance to a mid-level position.
These degrees take approximately two years to complete and require about 60 credits. Associate in business management programs include general education classes in topics such as history, English, and social science. Learners also take business classes in areas including economics, accounting, and communication.
- Administrative Assistant
These assistants perform administrative and clerical tasks including answering phones, organizing meetings, filing documents, and managing schedules. Executive assistants, who often need a college degree, support senior managers and typically have more responsibility than other administrative assistants. While some companies hire high school graduates, many employers prefer administrative assistants to hold a degree.
- Office Manager
Aspiring office managers may need only a high school diploma, but some employers require these professionals to hold a degree in business or management. Office managers maintain records, manage office facilities, and coordinate operations between departments. They need excellent communication, managerial, and problem-solving abilities.
- Food Service Manager
While some food service manager positions require only a high school diploma and years of service industry experience, many positions require some college education. Food service managers oversee operations in establishments such as restaurants and hotels. They supervise employees, manage budgets, order supplies and ingredients, and ensure that the establishment complies with regulations.
Bachelor's Degree in Business Management
A bachelor's degree in business management has significant advantages over an associate degree in the field. Bachelor's degree holders can pursue a variety of entry-level jobs in business and finance, including roles as financial analysts, human resources specialists, and management consultants.
After a few years on the job, bachelor's degree holders can advance to management positions, which include more responsibility and require professionals to supervise other employees. Since bachelor's programs in business management help learners develop a broadly applicable skill set, many students specialize in a specific career area. The table below describes some common bachelor's degree in business management careers.
- Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager
These management professionals work in advertising agencies, public relations firms, and corporate marketing departments. They coordinate campaigns that promote products, and their responsibilities include consulting market research, developing strategies, and coordinating with other departments. These managers usually have prior experience in advertising, marketing, or sales.
- Management Consultant
Management consultants advise organizations on ways to increase efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Most management analysts work for large consulting firms that serve many client companies. Consultants collect information, analyze financial documents, and propose solutions to managers. A bachelor's degree typically qualifies holders for consulting jobs, but some employers require or prefer candidates with a master's degree.
- Financial Analyst
Financial analysts need a bachelor's degree related to accounting, economics, finance, or business. These professionals help individuals and organizations decide how to invest assets. Their daily responsibilities often include analyzing market trends, examining financial statements, and meeting with corporate executives.
- Sales Manager
Employers typically hire sales managers who have a bachelor's degree and 1-5 years of sales experience. Sales managers supervise sales teams, train new salespeople, evaluate employees, and determine sales goals. They may work for companies that sell products to other businesses or for companies that sell directly to consumers.
Accountants typically need a bachelor's degree in accounting or a similar field. These business professionals prepare and analyze financial documents for individuals, government agencies, and corporations. Management accountants, sometimes called cost accountants, help business managers oversee budgets, cut costs, choose investments, and understand the organization's overall financial situation.
Master's Degree in Business Management
Earning a master's degree in business management can lead to high-level leadership positions in various fields. A graduate degree demonstrates expertise in management and leadership strategy and helps low-level and mid-level professionals assume more responsibility in their organizations.
Students considering pursuing a graduate degree should understand the differences between available business programs. Master's programs in organizational management teach students to manage change and corporate culture. Learners can also pursue a master's in management or an MBA. Prospective master's students can review the business management careers list below to learn about job possibilities.
- Training and Development Managers
Some employers require training and development managers to hold a master's in business with a concentration in human resources management, training and development, or organizational development. These professionals design, plan, and oversee programs that help employees develop professional skills. They evaluate workers, supervise instructors, and assess training programs.
- Top Executives
Top executives can work at large and small organizations in almost any industry. They develop big-picture goals and strategies for their organization or department. Their daily duties include meeting with important clients, analyzing financial statements, and consulting with other senior managers. Executives often hold an MBA or a similar graduate degree.
- Public Relations and Fundraising Manager
Public relations managers work for PR firms and departments, where they maintain and improve an organization's reputation and image. Fundraising managers help secure donations by developing strategies, applying for grants, and meeting with donors. Managers in this field generally need a bachelor's or master's degree and at least five years of experience.
- Human Resources Manager
Human resources managers oversee HR departments that recruit, interview, hire, and train new employees. They also confer with top executives to determine hiring strategies. Additionally, human resources managers may arrange professional training events. These professionals need at least a bachelor's degree, and some high-level positions require a graduate education.
Doctoral Degree in Business Management
A doctoral degree in business is the highest level of education in the field. While many doctoral students first earn a master's degree, some students can transition directly from a bachelor's program to a doctoral program. A doctorate in business management demonstrates complete mastery of business management theory and/or practice.
There are two main types of business doctoral degrees. Ph.D. in business degrees are research oriented and require extensive independent study and a dissertation. Ph.D. students typically plan to work in academia or another research-intensive field, and graduates often become professors or secure government positions. Students who are interested in the practical side of business can pursue a doctor of management or a doctor of business administration. The chart below details some possible business management careers and salaries for doctoral degree holders.
- Associate Postsecondary Professor
Higher education institutions typically require professors to hold a Ph.D. Professors with a doctoral degree in business management often teach business administration or management. These educators design lesson plans, deliver lectures, and attend conferences. They also conduct research in their field.
Economists can work for the federal government, state and local governments, and private, research-focused organizations. Many also work for finance and insurance companies. These professionals research economic problems, gather data, and analyze information. They examine current economic conditions to advise businesses, governments, and individuals. Economists typically need at least a master's degree or a Ph.D.
- Postsecondary Education Administrator
Some college professors take on more responsibilities by becoming postsecondary education administrators. Academic deans, provosts, and department chairs coordinate faculty research, manage budgets, and participate in hiring decisions. Business professors may run undergraduate business departments or graduate management schools.
What Industries Can You Work in With a Business Management Degree?
Nearly all industries need talented and skilled managers who can direct operations, supervise employees, and develop business strategies. Business management graduates can find work in small and large enterprises, in fields including healthcare, real estate, publishing, and banking. Additionally, organizations in the nonprofit and government sectors employ managers who can properly allocate funds, manage finances, and motivate employees. Generally, business management professionals with advanced degrees have more career options.
- Management of Companies and Enterprises
This broad industry encompasses professionals who direct operations in a variety of businesses. The responsibilities of business managers depend on the type of company they work for.
- Management Consulting
Management consulting firms help client organizations improve efficiency and enhance management strategy. Managers in this field may meet with clients and lead teams of management analysts.
- Financial Services
Financial services firms include banks, investment firms, insurance companies, and lending organizations. Business management graduates who work in finance may oversee a team, department, or entire company.
Nonprofit organizations aim to promote a cause rather than generate income. Managers oversee operations involving raising money, awarding grants, and increasing awareness about particular issues.
- Advertising, Public Relations, and Marketing
Managers in the advertising and marketing industries plan campaigns that promote services and products. Public relations managers oversee teams that protect an organization's image and reputation.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
How Do You Find a Job as a Business Management Graduate?
Business students nearing graduation should research the current business management job landscape. Learners should consider which industries employ the most business management graduates and which fields are expanding. Graduates may focus their job search on growing industries while avoiding shrinking sectors.
The BLS projects management occupations to increase 8% from 2016-2026, which translates to more than 800,000 new positions. During the same time frame, the BLS projects a 12% growth for computer and information systems managers and a 19% increase in financial manager positions, which translates to 108,600 new financial management jobs.
Earning a specialized certification can help job seekers improve their marketability. Additionally, students and recent graduates can take advantage of career-building resources and job boards from professional organizations such as CompTIA Association of Information Technology Professionals, the Association of Business Process Management Professionals International, and the Institute of Management Consultants USA.
Professional Resources for Business Management Majors
AFP advocates for and provides resources to professionals in treasury and finance. The association offers virtual career development seminars, a career center, and publications that help members stay up to date on the developments in the profession. Members can also network with nearly 7,000 corporate finance workers at an annual conference.
AMA is dedicated to helping business managers advance their careers. The association provides professional training in 25 areas including leadership, analytics, project management, HR management, and information technology management. Through AMA, business management graduates can access newsletters, articles, webcasts, whitepapers, and skill assessments.
Founded in 1949, this organization supports businesswomen through continuing education and networking opportunities. Members benefit from more than 5,000 annual networking meetings in cities throughout the country. The association also offers a job board and resources on topics such as resume writing.
In addition to certifications, PMI offers professional resources such as a job board. Members can also access online courses, a podcast, webinars, and three project management industry publications. The institute hosts a global conference and other events throughout the year.
ATD boasts a job board where members can post openings and look for new positions. The organization also posts members-only articles that help talent development professionals build new skills and advance their careers. Business management students and graduates can attend one of ATD's many workshops and networking conferences.
SHRM offers resources that help HR students and graduates plan and develop their careers. The association also operates a job board and delivers continuing education programs both online and in person. SHRM hosts a general conference and events focused on topics such as employment law and inclusion.
The AMA helps marketing professionals learn about trends in the industry, marketing job descriptions, job search strategies, resume-writing techniques, and networking tips. The organization also maintains job boards for marketing professionals and academics. Management graduates can advance their careers by earning the AMA's professional certified marketer certification.
The Free Management Library offers resources that can help managers improve their skills and advance their careers. The website provides articles on topics including organizational behavior, problem-solving, managing teams, and communication. Professionals can also consult resources on career planning, interviewing, and networking.
This organization supports professionals in sales leadership, sales operations, and other sales-focused positions. Members receive access to a job board, a member directory, courses, and research reports. The organization also hosts a Sales Force Productivity Conference and a Sales Thought Leadership Conference.
The AAF serves advertising professionals of all experience levels. The organization boasts a student membership option that helps college students look for internships and jobs and receive advice from advertising professionals. The AAF also operates a job bank, where students can post resumes, look for positions, and sign up for job alerts.