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Best Careers in Business

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This guide outlines 25 popular business careers to help aspiring business professionals hone in on the best career for their interests and goals.

"Business professional" is one of the most flexible categories of employment, offering diverse work opportunities and environments. With training and experience, business graduates can pursue careers in many fields, including accounting, marketing, and management. Though the specifics vary, most business careers focus on analyzing and improving organizational operations and performance.

In addition to career flexibility, aspiring business professionals often enjoy high wages and career growth potential. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), business and financial professionals earn median annual wages that nearly double that of the average occupation in the U.S. Candidates typically need a bachelor's degree, though some employers hire graduates with associate degrees, while others prefer master's graduates.

Continue reading for more information about the various business disciplines, along with some of the best business careers.

Job Outlook for Business Professionals

The job outlook for business professionals is generally pretty good. As the economy diversifies and market globalization continues to change how people do business, the demand for business professionals has expanded. According to BLS employment data, business and financial occupations are projected to grow faster than the average occupation between 2019-2029.

While most of these professions require at least a bachelor's degree, earning a master's degree can lead to more financially rewarding careers. BLS employment data indicates that business management occupations earn the highest median annual wages of all occupational groups at over $105,000. The median annual wage for business and financial occupations comes in at $69,000 — much higher than the average for all occupations.

Business Career Paths

While some business professionals earn a general business degree and specialize through job experience, schools often also offer concentrations that help learners focus their training in a specific field. While not exhaustive, the following list explores some of the most popular business concentrations and their corresponding careers.

Accounting

While most business degrees cover accounting fundamentals, this concentration better prepares students for careers in financial accounting and management accounting. Students learn different types of accounting, exploring things like tax and corporate accounting. These courses teach learners to analyze finances, make strategic business recommendations, and adhere to complex laws and regulations.

Business Development

A business development concentration focuses on the growth and guidance of organizations of different shapes and sizes. Students examine the entrepreneurial mindset and learn about consumer behaviors, leadership strategies, and innovations that lead to success. Equipped with these skills, graduates can seek careers in business management, consulting, and analysis.

Economics

Students in an economics concentration learn about the complex components of the global marketplace, including state and national economies, individual households, financial markets, and businesses. They acquire skills in financial reporting and learn to assess financial risks and opportunities for organizations. Graduates with this training can pursue business careers in management, finance, and accounting.

Finance

Finance students tackle more advanced financial concepts than those found in general business degrees. They learn how to use complex instruments and techniques to help businesses make sound financial decisions. The specialization emphasizes financial planning, operational problem-solving, and organizational evaluation. After graduation, a finance concentration can lead to financial management, accounting, and consulting careers.

Human Resources

This concentration emphasizes understanding the relationship between employees and organizations. Students learn about the recruitment and training processes, compensation, benefits, and labor laws. They also study strategies for analyzing and improving employee behaviors and performances. With the people management skills gained in this concentration, graduates can pursue careers in human resources, management, and organizational analysis.

Management

A management concentration focuses on strategic decision-making and helping businesses grow and improve. Students learn to develop strategies, assess employee performance, and implement operational changes and improvements. Graduates acquire the skills to take on many management positions, such as financial management, marketing management, and training and development management.

Marketing and Advertising

Learners in marketing and advertising concentrations examine the entire promotional process. Students gain skills and knowledge in market research, consumer behaviors, product branding and planning, and campaign strategizing. They also explore the financial aspects of marketing and advertising, including the evolution of marketing in the modern age. This concentration leads to careers in sales, marketing, fundraising, market research, and operations analysis.

Operations

In an operations concentration, students learn how organizational processes and systems influence products and services. It also explores how managers can help businesses meet consumer and market demands while still meeting the bottom line through quality control, material management, purchasing, and logistics. Graduates with this specialization pursue careers in management, consulting, and manufacturing.

Methodology

We ranked the best careers in business for 2020 by using BLS data regarding salary and projected job growth rates.

The Best Business Careers

The Best Business Careers

Marketing Managers

Marketing managers oversee marketing staff and plan marketing campaigns for organizations based on demand. They use market research data to determine pricing, forecast market trends, and identify areas for market growth.

A marketing manager needs a bachelor's degree in advertising, business, marketing, or a related field. They also typically need relevant professional experience and strong communication, interpersonal, and analytical skills.

  • Median BLS Salary: $135,900
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 6%

Financial Managers

Financial managers coordinate efforts to ensure organizations' financial success. They oversee short- and long-term financial plans, direct investments, and write forecasting reports related to financial goals. Financial managers may also look for ways to reduce costs and maximize profits.

A financial manager typically needs relevant professional experience and a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, economics, or a related field. They also need strong communication, interpersonal, and analytical skills.

  • Median BLS Salary: $129,890
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 15%

Sales Managers

Sales managers prepare budgets, oversee expenses, and establish quotas for sales representatives. As intermediaries between sales staff and organizational executives, sales managers coordinate with clients, distributors, dealers, and other personnel throughout the supply chain. Sales managers may specialize in business-to-business sales or business-to-consumer sales, depending on the industry.

Sales managers typically need experience as sales representatives. They hold bachelor's degrees in business, finance, economics, or related disciplines.

  • Median BLS Salary: $126,640
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 4%

Purchasing Managers

Purchasing managers work closely with buyers, purchasing agents, and sales professionals to facilitate the movement of goods and services in the marketplace. They monitor pricing, quality, supply, and demand, developing procurement policies and procedures to meet suppliers' and vendors' needs. These professionals also identify new clients, negotiate contracts, and maintain records about inventories and deliveries.

Bachelor's degrees in business, finance, supply chain management, and related fields prepare students to work as purchasing managers. A purchasing manager benefits from previous experience as a buyer, purchasing agent, or sales representative.

  • Median BLS Salary: $121,110
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 1%

Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers supervise recruitment, hiring, and dismissal of employees within organizations and companies. They oversee benefits programs, training, compensation, and workforce development efforts. Human resources managers must stay current with laws and regulations related to employment, manage conflicts and disputes that arise within organizations, and work with executives to assess worker productivity.

These professionals need strong interpersonal, communication, and organizational skills. A human resources manager needs a bachelor's degree in labor relations, human resources, business administration, or a related discipline.

  • Median BLS Salary: $116,720
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 6%

Public Relations and Fundraising Managers

Tasked with creating and maintaining the public image of businesses and organizations, public relations managers contact consumers, audiences, and clients through various media, like press releases. Fundraising managers coordinate revenue-generating campaigns, apply for grants, and work with potential donors to meet organizational fundraising goals.

Public relations and fundraising managers need strong verbal and written communication skills, along with excellent time management and decision-making skills. These professionals often hold public relations bachelor's degrees.

  • Median BLS Salary: $116,180
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 9%

Training and Development Managers

These managers develop, implement, and assess training programs, budgets, and personnel. They also introduce new concepts, ideas, and technologies to organizational staff, managers, and executives.

Training and development managers typically hold bachelor's degrees in human resources, organizational development, or business administration. Related work experience also helps training and development managers succeed.

  • Median BLS Salary: $113,350
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 7%

Personal Financial Advisors

Personal financial advisors advise clients on financial matters, such as investments, taxes, and retirement funds. They help clients identify financial goals and may purchase stocks, bonds, and insurance on a client's behalf. These advisors may also specialize in an aspect of finance, such as private banking or wealth management.

Personal financial advisors typically need bachelor's degrees in finance, economics, accounting, or related fields. They also must possess strong analytical, interpersonal, and communication skills.

  • Median BLS Salary: $87,850
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 4%

Management Analysts

Also known as management consultants, management analysts offer recommendations to improve organizational efficacy and efficiency. They may work internally within an organization or serve as independent contractors. Management consultants gather quantitative and qualitative information about problems and challenges, providing solutions and plans for reducing costs, optimizing employee output, and increasing revenue.

Management analysts typically hold a bachelor's degree in business, finance, or a related field. They need strong analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills.

  • Median BLS Salary: $85,260
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 11%

Operations Research Analysts

Operations research analysts assess quantitative and qualitative data to advise managers, executives, and other organizational leaders on the most effective and efficient wys to improve business outcomes. They assess costs, resources, and pricing for companies and organizations across industries.

These analysts need strong skills in statistics, predictive modeling, and simulations. An operations research analyst typically holds a bachelor's degree in engineering, mathematics, analytics, or a related field.

  • Median BLS Salary: $84,810
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 25%

Operations Research Analysts

Financial analysts collect past and current financial data to forecast investment trends. They advise individuals and businesses, offering insight into the performance of stocks, bonds, and comparable investments. Some financial analysts focus on the buy-side, forming strategies for making investments, while sell-side financial analysts advise clients on selling investments.

A financial analyst typically holds a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, or a related field. Professional certification helps these professionals advance their careers.

  • Median BLS Salary: $84,810
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 5%

Financial Examiners

Financial examiners work within financial organizations to ensure compliance with laws and regulations. They examine financial statements, balance sheets, and comparable documentation to assess an institution's safety and stability. Financial examiners also assess risks related to loans to ensure the fair treatment of borrowers and the viability of lending activities.

A bachelor's degree in accounting serves financial examiners well. Entry-level financial examiners typically receive extensive on-the-job training, while their senior-level counterparts often hold master's degrees and certified public accountant licensure.

  • Median BLS Salary: $81,090
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 7%

Budget Analysts

Budget analysts help organizations and individuals maintain their finances. They assess budget capabilities and limits, reviewing requests for projects and funding throughout the fiscal year. They also ensure that financial activities meet legal and regulatory standards, monitor spending and revenue, and forecast financial needs.

A budget analyst typically holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics, finance, accounting, or a related field. They need strong technical and analytical skills.

  • Median BLS Salary: $76,540
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 3%

Agents and Business Managers

Agents work closely with professional athletes, performers, and artists, representing the interests of their clients. They negotiate and oversee contracts, often taking on additional business and promotional matters as needed.

Business managers provide similar functions for companies and organizations, coordinating operations and tasks on behalf of the business. They manage budgets and delegate duties to fellow employees.

Like most business administration jobs, agents and business managers often hold bachelor's degrees in business administration, public relations, or related fields. They typically have excellent communication skills and a comprehensive understanding of business practices within their industry.

  • Median BLS Salary: $73,740
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 12%

Credit Analysts

Credit analysts determine the viability of an individual's or organization's credit. They assess past purchases and financial holdings to determine loan worthiness. When working for financial institutions, credit analysts also establish parameters to approve credit requests. Within a corporation or business, credit analysts may also suggest steps to improve credit scores and ratings.

Credit analysts are detail-oriented, effective decision-makers and strong quantitative analysts. They typically hold bachelor's degrees in mathematics, business, economics, or accounting.

  • Median BLS Salary: $73,650
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 2%

Business Operations Specialists

Business operations specialists assess business functions to ensure customer needs are met. They identify areas for improvement, optimize customer service, and streamline operations to improve efficiency and ensure future success.

Business operations specialists need strong analytical and communication skills. They typically have bachelor's degrees in business or related fields.

  • Median BLS Salary: $73,570
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 1%

Labor Relations Specialists

Labor relations specialists work with union representatives and company managers to assess contracts, mediate and investigate worker grievances, and consult on disciplinary processes. They also help craft labor procedures and ensure human relations policies remain consistent with established worker-company agreements.

A labor relations specialist typically holds a bachelor's degree in human resources, business, labor relations, or a related field. They benefit from strong communication, decision-making, and interpersonal skills.

  • Median BLS Salary: $69,020
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): -7%

Insurance Appraisers

Insurance appraisers conduct and manage insurance claims, which involves examining damaged property, taking photos, keeping notes, and filling out paperwork based on their findings. These professionals also determine whether fraud has taken place and provide records of their findings to insurance companies. Appraisers often work with customers to explain benefits as well.

Insurance appraisers need strong analytical, organizational, and communication skills. They often possess bachelor's degrees and may hold licensure through state agencies.

  • Median BLS Salary: $66,540
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): -6%

Cost Estimators

Cost estimators assess the resources needed to complete a project, produce a product, or provide a service. They calculate estimated expenses regarding labor, time, money, and materials. Cost estimators may focus on construction activities or manufacturing, tasked with finding ways to reduce costs in either context.

Many cost estimators have bachelor's degrees in engineering, construction management, or business. Cost estimators also benefit from experience in construction and manufacturing.

  • Median BLS Salary: $65,250
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): -1%

Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists

Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists oversee organizations' compensation and benefits programs, usually within companies large enough to have a full HR department.

Compensation specialists assess pay structures based on compensation trends and ensure that salaries and wages adhere to state and federal regulations. Benefits specialists administer retirement plans, leave benefits, and insurance policies, while job analysis specialists write job descriptions, assign job duties, and determine position classifications.

All of these professionals work closely with other human resources personnel. A bachelor's degree in human resources, business administration, or finance instills the knowledge and skills needed for these positions.

  • Median BLS Salary: $64,560
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 8%

Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists

Market research analysts use current market data to forecast growth, assess potential sales, and establish pricing for goods and services. They gather information through questionnaires, interviews, surveys, and focus groups to prepare reports for clients and managers.

Marketing specialists often work closely with market research analysts, helping companies advertise goods and services. They identify consumers, assess overall demand, and determine optimal marketing materials to attract customers.

Market research analysts and marketing specialists typically need bachelor's degrees. They also need strong analytical, communication, and marketing skills.

  • Median BLS Salary: $63,790
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 18%

Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives facilitate the sale of goods from wholesale and manufacturing companies to other businesses and organizations. They contact clients to explain available products, highlight features to increase interest, answer questions, and manage accounts. They also negotiate prices, terms, and service agreements as they prepare contracts and sales orders.

The education requirements for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives vary, but candidates benefit from bachelor's degrees in business and communications. These professionals need strong interpersonal and communication skills.

  • Median BLS Salary: $63,000
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 2%

Training and Development Specialists

Training and development specialists help develop, administer, and review workplace training programs. They use surveys, interviews, and feedback from employees and managers to create training materials. These specialists schedule classes and instruct personnel through online media, informal meetings, and collaborative learning exercises.

Most training and development specialists hold bachelor's degrees. Training in education, human resources, or instructional design prepares these professionals to teach others effectively.

  • Median BLS Salary: $61,210
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 9%

Fundraisers

Fundraisers work to raise funds for organizations. They build brand or issue awareness, solicit donations, design fundraising strategies, and plan fundraising events. Annual campaign fundraisers focus on donations once per year, while capital campaign fundraisers collect for special projects. Major gift fundraisers target donors who can make significant donations.

Most fundraisers hold bachelor's degrees in communication, public relations, business, or related fields. They need strong interpersonal, communication, and organizational skills.

  • Median BLS Salary: $57,970
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 14%

Real Estate Appraisers

Real estate appraisers estimate the value of land and buildings, assessing them for mortgages, insurance, taxation, and development. They photograph sites, determine comparable values of nearby properties, evaluate environmental conditions, and prepare detailed reports about their findings.

Requirements to work as a real estate appraiser vary by state and type of property. Most appraisers have bachelor's degrees in economics, mathematics, business, or finance.

  • Median BLS Salary: $57,010
  • Job Growth (2019-2029): 3%

Is Business Right for You?

Business students enjoy many career benefits, such as high earnings and professional development opportunities, but the field may not suit everyone. To ensure that they pursue the right career and professional pathway, learners should think about their goals, strengths, and weaknesses and weigh the advantages and disadvantages listed below.

  • Advantages

  • The business field offers a strong career path with great opportunities for both entry-level and experienced professionals. With a bachelor's degree, a candidate can access some of the largest workforces in every state, along with considerably higher wages than the state average in most cases.

    Business roles also offer opportunities for career growth and change. With such broad and widely applicable training, business graduates can leverage their skills in many different industries and positions. They can also build experience to update and expand their training and take on more advanced roles.

    To get the most out of their careers, business professionals must be able to thrive in problem-solving situations. They need critical thinking and interpersonal skills, leadership qualities, and social perceptiveness. While the field can be rewrading, it also often demands commitment and dedication.

  • Challenges

  • Business professionals face plenty of challenges in their day-to-day work. They often need to manage customers, clients, and coworkers. Depending on the position, they may work long hours at a desk or travel between locations frequently. During busy periods, workers may need to put in additional hours to complete their tasks.

    In such a vast and competitive field, successful business careers often demand regularly updated and upgraded skills. Business professionals also need to stay sharp, detail-oriented, and meticulous.

    Most higher-paying business major jobs are in metropolitan city centers, and candidates may need to live in the city or within commuting distance. While many careers and employers offer clear advancement opportunities, they may require additional education, like earning a master's degree.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Highest Paying Business Jobs?

The highest-paying business degree jobs typically come at the management level. According to BLS data, management occupations earned a median annual wage of $105,660 in 2019. Among those occupations, information systems managers received the highest median annual wage, with $146,360.

Are Business Jobs in Demand?

Yes. The projected job growth between 2019-2029 for both business and financial occupations and business management occupations was 5% — slightly higher than for all occupations. BLS projections indicate that some business careers, like financial management, will grow much faster than the national average.

What Business Jobs Are Fun?

The enjoyment a person gets out of a business job depends on their unique interests. Statisticians who enjoy problem-solving and working with numbers will thrive in this field, and marketing professionals often enjoy the freedom to express themselves creatively. Consultants and analysts typically enjoy a dynamic work environment as well.

Is a Business Degree Worth It?

Business degrees are the most popular choice in education, as reported by the National Center for Education Statistics. Students choose these degrees for many reasons, including job flexibility, upward mobility, and lucrative salaries. Most employers hire applicants with bachelor's degrees in the field, making the pursuit of higher education essential for these careers.

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