Business management is a field that is essential to the proper running of the economy, and particularly that of the for-profit sector. That being said, even public sector organizations are now being managed as a business, as budgets are becoming increasingly tight, while demands on service delivery and quality are increasing. What this means is that there is a demand for people who have extensive knowledge in business management, in various areas, such as strategy, business policy, information technology, communication, operations, finance, customers, human resources, and markets. These are the essential elements in the running of any type of organization, whether they are nonprofit, for profit, governmental, or charity.

Opportunity

Obviously, the field of business management is incredibly wide and varied. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has referred to it as “management occupations”, which include 26 different subcategories. Because of this, it is also difficult to predict what the growth in demand will be. That said, some attempts have been made at making growth projections, including:

  • The projection that there will be a 6% growth in demand for all management occupations from 2014 to 2024, according to the BLS. This is as fast as the national average for all occupations and translates into 505,400 new jobs.
  • The prediction that most of the growth will come from existing organizations expanding their reach, and new organizations being formed, again according to the BLS.
  • The observation that there is increased confidence in the economy, which can lead to significant investments in small businesses, translating into increased demand for managers.

Career Paths

According to the BLS, the main career paths within the field of business management are:

  • Administrative Services Managers, with an average annual salary of $86,110
  • Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing managers, with an average annual salary of $124,850
  • Architectural and Engineering Managers, with an average annual salary of $132,800
  • Compensation and Benefits Managers, with an average annual salary of $111,430
  • Computer and Information Systems Managers, with an average annual salary of $131,600
  • Construction Managers, with an average annual salary of $87,400
  • Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals, with an average annual salary of $90,410
  • Emergency Management Directors, with an average annual salary of $67,330
  • Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers, with an average annual salary of $64,170
  • Financial Managers, with an average annual salary of $117,990
  • Food Service Managers, with an average annual salary of $48,690
  • Human Resources Managers, with an average annual salary of $104,440
  • Industrial Production Managers, with an average annual salary of $93,940
  • Lodging Managers, with an average annual salary of $49,720
  • Medical and Health Services Managers, with an average annual salary of $94,500.
  • Natural Sciences Managers, with an average annual salary of $120,160
  • Post-secondary Education Administrators, with an average annual salary of $88,580
  • Preschool and Child Care Center Directors, with an average annual salary of $45,670
  • Property, Real Estate, and Community Association Managers, with an average annual salary of $55,380
  • Public Relations and Fundraising Managers, with an average annual salary of $104,140
  • Purchasing Managers, with an average annual salary of $108,120
  • Sales Managers, with an average annual salary of $113,860
  • Social and Community Services Managers, with an average annual salary of $63,530
  • Top Executives, with an average annual salary of $102,690
  • Training and Development Managers, with an average annual salary of $102,640

Salaries

The BLS has reported that the average annual income for all management occupations in May 2015 was $98,560. Interestingly, this is the highest salary within all the major occupational groups that they report on. Meanwhile, Payscale.com has reported on a factor that influences strongly how much someone can earn, which is the factor of geographical location. They state that business managers in:

  • New York, New York, earn an average annual salary of $71,006.
  • Chicago, Illinois, earn an average annual salary of $110,333.
  • Houston, Texas, earn an average annual salary of $52,041.
  • Boston, Massachusetts, earn an average annual salary of $70,986.
  • Atlanta, Georgia, earn an average annual salary of $85,273.
  • Cleveland, Ohio, earn an average annual salary of $60,000.
  • Denver, Colorado, earn an average annual salary of $46,333.

What is important to remember, however, is that locations where salaries are high, and particularly if they are much higher than the national average, are cities where the cost of living is also significantly higher.

Employers

Another factor that strongly influences how much business managers are likely to get paid is who they work for. Indeed.com has reported on the following companies and their average annual salaries for business managers. They state that:

  • Accenture pays an average of $134,221 per year.
  • Citi pays an average of $130,043 per year.
  • Microsoft pays an average of $117,070 per year.
  • HP pays an average of $112,988 per year.
  • Capital One pays an average of $113,843 per year.
  • Unilever pays an average of $110,711 per year.
  • IBM pays an average of $106,216 per year.
  • AT&T pays an average of $96,755 per year.
  • Cigna pays an average of $87,997 per year.
  • UPS pays an average of $88,183 per year.

Bachelor’s Degree

In order to become involved in the field of business management, a bachelor’s degree is generally the minimum requirement. Because this is such a popular field of study, numerous universities now offer it as a degree. Furthermore, because there is a significant drive towards attracting more students into university, there are also many colleges and universities that offer the bachelor’s degree in business management online. One example of this is DeVry University, which offers the Bachelor’s in Management, either online or in the classroom. Furthermore, because the field of business management is so broad, DeVry University offers 10 different specializations within their degree program (Accounting, Business Intelligence and Analytics Management, Finance, Global Supply Chain Management, Health Services Management, Hospitality Management, Human Resource Management, Project Management, Sales and Marketing, Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship). All 10 specializations follow the same core curriculum, which is how they have been able to receive accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The core curriculum includes:

  • Data Analysis
  • Principles of Economics
  • Marketing
  • Project Management
  • Communications
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics
  • Social Sciences

Master’s Degree

To really propel your career to the next level, you may want to consider completing a master’s degree in business management. This will prove to prospective employers that you have the advanced skills and knowledge required to take their business to the next level. Master’s degrees usually take around two years of full time study to complete. Many colleges and universities, as with the bachelor’s degree, now offer the master’s or MBA degree online. This provides students with greater flexibility, enabling them to work and study at the same time. One good example of a respected master’s degree in business management is offered by Colorado State University, which has developed the MS in Management, a fully online program.

Admission Requirements

Schools are entitled to set admission requirements as they see fit. However, they tend to be reasonably similar across the board, as they are designed to ensure the prospective student has the prerequisite knowledge and experience to cope with the intensive curriculum and demands of a master’s degree. The admission requirements at Colorado State University, for instance, are:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • GPA of 3.0 minimum
  • Statement of purpose
  • SmarterMeasure Assessment
  • Proof of English proficiency for non-native English speakers

Colorado State University does not require GMAT/GRE test scores, because they use their own SmarterMeasure Assessment to determine whether someone is ready to study at master’s degree level. The majority of other universities do require GMAT/GRE test results.

Curriculum

Schools can set their own admissions requirements, and they can also set their own curriculum. It is for this reason that you should only study with a school that has received accreditation both for the school and for the program. This will assure you and your prospective employers that your degree has met or exceeded the required minimum standards of knowledge in that field. The degree offered by Colorado State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, as well as by the ACBSP. This guarantees that it is of the highest possible standard. The courses in the curriculum as set by this university include:

  • Understanding business dynamics
  • Business analytics
  • Communication
  • Decision making processes
  • Fostering an innovative company culture
  • Ethics
  • Finance
  • Economics
  • International commerce
  • Strategic planning
  • Research analysis

Financial Assistance

Unfortunately, college education is a costly affair and much more so with a master’s degree. You must invest both time and money, but there are systems in place to cushion this burden to some degree. Studying online, for instance, will go a long way towards reducing the amount of time spent, particularly in traveling to the school and back. Furthermore, you may have the opportunity to also work while studying. Meanwhile, all universities have a bursar’s office where you can request help through financial assistance, for instance by applying for financial aid. Many schools also offer their own scholarships and grants.

External scholarships and grants also exist, and are certainly worth apply for. Some that you may want to consider include the:

  • IMA Memorial Education Fund Scholarship and Stuart Cameron & Margaret McLeod Memorial Scholarship, valued at between $1,000 and $5,000
  • AACE International Scholarship, valued at between $1,000 and $5,000
  • AfterCollege Business Student Scholarship, valued at $500
  • AgoraPulse Social Media Management Scholarship, valued at $1,000
  • AICP Scholarship Program, valued at $1,500
  • Asian Women In Business Scholarship, valued at $2,500
  • Brightest Minds MBA Scholarship Contest, valued at between $25 and $25,000
  • Cognizant Accelerate Diversity Scholarship Program, valued at $5,000
  • CVS Pharmacy, Inc: Business Scholarship, valued at $5,000
  • GreenPal Business Scholarship, valued at $2,000

Most of these scholarships will require students to meet certain demands, such as being a member of a certain organization, studying towards a specific business concentration, belonging to a certain population group, demonstrating financial need, and/or holding a minimum GPA.

Certifications

Many people choose to become certified in specific areas of business management. This will enable them to demonstrate that they have additional skills and experience in certain fields of business. It is important to think carefully about certification, due to the significant investment it requires. Not only do you have to prepare yourself for examinations, which usually takes six months, but the process is also very expensive, particularly if you were to not pass the first time. Furthermore, once you hold a certification, you will have to maintain it. This will require continuous education. That being said, most people feel that the added value of certification is certainly worth the investment. Some of the certifications you may want to consider in the area of business management include:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL)
  • Big Data Analytics
  • Certified Scrum Master (CSM)
  • Six Sigma Green Belt
  • The Open Group Architecture Framework (TOGAF)
  • Sales training and certification

Associations

It is also recommended to join professional organizations and associations. In fact, you may want to consider doing so when you are studying towards your bachelor’s degree. Being a member of professional organizations and associations demonstrates that you are committed to furthering your profession. It also ensures that you are always on top of new developments within your industry. Furthermore, professional organizations often offer continuous education credits, or discounts on courses, and they may also offer scholarships and grants. Last but not least, as a member of a professional organization, you have a fantastic opportunity to build your personal professional network, which can greatly serve your future career.

Some of the associations you may want to consider include the:

  • American Management Association (AMA)
  • National Association of Business Management Professionals
  • Business Management Associates, Inc.

References

Henry Steele
Henry Steele
Henry is Editor-in-Chief of Business Student.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

BusinessStudent.com provides students of business with the opportunities to get ahead in their career.