Business Degree still remains Top Choice for College Students
For some people, knowing what they want to do with their lives is a decision they’ve seemingly made at a very young age. Always knowing you wanted to be a doctor, or a writer or a scientist – and then pursuing an advanced education to help you become one – is a logical step for some. But for others, figuring out what they want to be “when they grow up” can be an endless struggle, making choosing a college major both tedious and stressful.
Some aspiring students who are unsure what they want to do with their lives end up taking a year off, which may or may not be the best course of action depending on the person. For some, taking that year is just enough time to figure things out. For others, it may be the start of a lifetime of justifying taking time off while waiting for the right job to come along.
For those who are on the fence about a future, but know they don’t want to put off going to college, a business degree is a wise investment. Unlike with some degrees, business degrees can be applied across a spectrum of career choices.
Business Degree – A Solid Investment
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, business is still the most common major among college students pursuing a higher education. About a fifth of the 1.79 million bachelor’s degrees conferred during the 2011-2012 academic year were in business. The popularity of business degrees has grown to the point that it has overtaken the previous most popular choice – a degree in education.
Business degrees have become popular at not only the undergraduate level, but also at the master degree level as well. The number of individuals pursuing a master’s degree in a business field was at 25.4 percent and outranked all other degree programs being tracked at the master’s level.
Knowing that a business degree is popular and knowing what to do with one are two different things.
One of the most popular ways to use a business degree is to launch your own business. As of 2014, 78 percent of the nation’s 26 million firms were comprised of business degree holders who started their own business, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Entrepreneurship has played a large role in the recent growth of the U.S. economy. Because of their impact on economy, the bureau spends a lot of time tracking the success and failure of small and start-up businesses.
Those who wish to start their own business may want to pursue either a Bachelor of Science degree or a Master’s Degree in entrepreneurship. Both degrees will prepare individuals for a variety of jobs, including running their own business.
Not really interested in running your own business but would like to help others realize their dream of starting their own company? Entrepreneurship degree holders are qualified to work as business consultants, using their training to help others. They also can work in research and development, as nonprofit organization fundraisers and even recruiters for other businesses.
A Variety of Opportunities
Starting your own business isn’t for everyone, but there are other ways to make use of a business degree.
Accountants are among the business professionals that are still in high demand in today’s market. They are responsible for preparing and examining financial records, ensuring those records are accurate and that taxes are paid correctly and by established deadlines. Regardless of whether they are working with a small business owner or a large corporation, accountants can be beneficial assets to have on board.
In addition to earning at least a Bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field, some accountants also choose to become licensed Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). Any accountant who will be filing a report with the Securities and Exchange Commission is required by law to be a CPA. In order to become a CPA, an individual must pass a national exam in addition to completing 150 semester hours of college coursework, which is slightly more than is earned in the average bachelor’s degree program.
Human Resources Managers also are among the top-paid holders of business degrees. Specializing in human resources while attending a business school provides individuals with the skills necessary to recruit, train, motivate and retain employee talent. In addition to a formal education, human resources managers also have the option of becoming certified. Among the professional associations that offer certification programs are the Society for Human Resource Management, the Human Resource Certification Institute and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
Another popular career choice for business degree holders is that of business administrator. Business administrators are trained in the areas of marketing, finance, human resources, information systems and business operations, and work in a variety of business and industry, including banking and finance, human resources and even information technology.
Students who wish to pursue a degree in business administration have the option of taking a CLEP Business Exam, which can greatly reduce the amount of time spent earning an undergraduate degree in this field. In order to pass the exam, students must show proficiency in the basics of business. Individuals who pass the CLEP exam are able to apply those scores for college credit, which drastically reduces the amount of time and money spent on earning a business administration degree.
Balancing the books, overseeing payroll, making recommendations for salary increases and helping to create and maintain a budget are all tasks associated with careers in finance. Individuals who enjoy researching and analyzing statistical data, performing math formulations and who are naturally talented in dealing with financial figures will enjoy this business field.
Common jobs for finance degree holders include financial analyst and personal financial advisor. An analyst will spend the majority of his time analyzing the stock market and staying on top of financial and economic trends in order to be able to offer clients investment advice. Personal financial advisors spend the majority of their time providing help with investments, taxes, mortgages, estate planning, retirement savings and decisions about insurance.
The most versatile business degree available is a Master of Business Administration (MBA). Every business relies on a solid business manager to interact with customers, resolve employee crises and conflicts and to help run the day-to-day operations of the business.
According to a 2012 report issued by the MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance, 79 percent of companies surveyed said they planned to hire workers who held an MBA degree. The same report indicates that 64 percent of all 2012 graduates who earned an MBA were able to find immediate employment following the completion of their degree program.
Business Without Borders
Business-minded individuals who enjoy the international scene may be suited for a career in e-commerce or international/global business.
E-commerce – also known as electronic retailing – has become an important part of the U.S. economy. Its importance is emphasized by the fact that it is a major component of the retail trade index within the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index (PPI) program. The program measures changes in margins received by retailers who conduct online transactions with customers.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers report Total Retail 2015: Retailers and the Age of Disruption reports that on a weekly basis, 20 percent of consumers shop online using a PC, 10 percent shop online using a tablet and 11 percent shop online via their mobile phones. The report predicts that as online shopping continues to grow, “the premium in the future will be on creating unique, brand-defining (be it offering sheer convenience or an offer that excites and engages) that keep customers coming back.”
Private consumers aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the boom in e-commerce. Business-to-business e-commerce also is taking off, making it easier for business to work with one another regardless of physical boundaries or location.
There are a variety of degree options available for those who wish to pursue a degree in e-commerce, with the majority of job holders in the field possessing a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
Have a head for business and also like to travel? Combining your two passions into a career in international/global business may be the ideal career choice. International business degree holders receive an education that prepares them to interact with professionals on the international business scene. The majority of degree holders for this business field work within multinational firms, government agencies and financial institutions. According to BLS, the average annual salary for those who work in this field is $73,570.
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