Considering a Business Management Degree?
Higher education and education, in general, is always worthwhile for its own sake. However, with fast-rising tuition costs, higher education nowadays represents a significant financial investment on top of the time and opportunity costs traditionally associated with attending university. Setting out to earn a degree calls for serious consideration and a careful choice of study field if one hopes to achieve maximum benefits in terms of competitive positioning for the job market or career advancement after graduation.
From that standpoint, earning a business degree is a good strategic move. The National Association of Colleges and Employers Winter 2018 Salary Survey of starting salary projections for Class of 2018 bachelor’s degree program graduates ranked business at fourth place just behind the STEM fields for average starting salary. The job outlook is also positive, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicting several years of increasing job openings for business degree holders.
What is Business Management?
Business management students study various topics related to business and leadership as they learn how to plan and direct business operations. One of the most popular degree fields of all time, business management is a versatile qualification, and degree holders can find opportunities in a broad range of industries. Business management is one of the few majors that can boast a positive growth rate since inception. Through changing economic conditions and shifting trends, the degree has consistently proven its worth in the job market.
The study and practice of business management are centered on the implementation of administrative tactics designed to boost productivity, drive sales, and increase an organization’s profitability. As the name suggests, a business management major prepares graduates to take up managerial positions in large or small enterprises. When working in enterprise environments, business management professionals are often found overseeing operational areas such as production, marketing, finance, and general administration. The degree is also useful for those who plan on starting a businesses or opening a franchise.
Business management degrees can be earned at the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels, and business management is also an MBA specialty field at some schools. Similar to MBA study, business management degree specialization is standard at the graduate level, and some schools offer specialties in their undergraduate programs.
What are the qualities and skills a business management student needs?
The qualities and skills essential for success in any business management degree program are much the same as those needed for success in the business world. Experience in the program and the work done in the course of study will contribute to the development of the student as a business management professional. However, the ideal candidate will possess certain innate personal characteristics and inclinations that make for a good fit in this field of study and professional occupation.
Commitment, focus, discipline, and responsibility are personal traits necessary to carry one through to success in any sort of challenging study program. Business majors are not renowned for being easy, and only those who clearly know why they want the degree and are willing to do almost anything to reach their objectives are likely to cross the finish line. You must accept that it will take hard work, sacrifice, and excellent time- and self-management skills to earn your degree.
People skills are critical to success as a business manager. Expect to find the classes in any business degree program organized in a way that promotes teamwork and collaboration. Business class projects are often designed to emphasize the connections between theory and practice while offering students opportunities to work together. And teamwork today often involves reaching across cultural and national boundaries. A good business management degree candidate is sophisticated and completely comfortable with diversity.
Communication skills are essential in the business world – outstanding communication often distinguishes those with leadership skills in the field. Verbal and written communication skills are equally important. The ability to communicate clearly in writing is critical for academic work in business management, and will also be needed in career settings.
Leadership skills are a must for individuals training to be business managers or owners. You will need to guide and manage the people on your team or in your employ. Spotting and retaining talent, mentoring and coaching, and delegating tasks efficiently are also activities that a business leader must be skilled at. Business management degree candidates should have strong leadership skills and an interest in developing them further.
Organizational skills are often overlooked, but no effective manager can be without them. The ability to deal with high workloads and multiple tasks and projects that have to be handled all at one time is crucial in both business and a demanding degree program.
These are just a few examples of basic skills needed for success in a business management degree program. The best candidates are also comfortable with technology, entrepreneurial, creative, ethical, and goal-oriented. Consider the qualities and skills you possess and honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses. As long as you are sincerely willing to work on improving any areas of weakness, you will be able to get the most out of your program.
What is the best preparation for studying business management?
Preparation for study at the undergraduate level for a bachelor’s in business management should include basics that would be covered in a good college preparatory high school program. A strong background in spoken and written English, communication skills, and the social sciences is recommended. Completing mathematics courses through the pre-calculus level is advisable.
Any computer technology skills you can develop will be very useful. The same is true for experience with specialties like accounting, finance, economics, and marketing. Membership in business clubs and professional organizations will offer valuable practice and networking opportunities. Also look for internships and other options for getting into some real-world work.
For graduate study leading to a master’s in business management, a bachelor’s in business management or business administration would be ideal preparation. Lacking that, any training in core business skill areas like accounting, finance, economics, communication, and marketing will be helpful. Also check individual degree program prerequisites. In some cases, remedial courses may be required.
Unlike the MBA degree, earning a master’s in business management does not require years of work experience. However, any experience you can get will help during the admissions process.
What coursework is required for a business management degree?
Business management curricula vary from school to school and according to degree specialty. As a basic example, core course requirements for a bachelor’s in business management will generally include some or all of the following subjects:
Management Theory and Practice – Students engage in case studies and project work that link basic management concepts to situations that will be encountered in real life work places. Topics that might be covered include clarifying expectations and defining success, setting and reaching objectives, creative problem solving, and dealing with competition.
Business Communication Skills – Students can expect to work on presentation design and public speaking, debate and negotiation skills, cross-cultural communication, and understanding non-verbal communication. Writing work will focus on communicating clearly and appropriately in traditional forms as well as in email and over social media. Case studies, white papers, reports, proposals, and contracts are some examples of the type of long-form work that might be encountered in business program writing courses.
Principles of Accounting – Accounting classes are a common feature of any type of business degree program. Managers need to be able to evaluate the financial status of a business. Among other things, business management students will learn to understand budgets, balance sheets, income and cash flow statements, quarterly earnings reports, tax documents, and the latest accounting software programs.
Economics – Another topic common to most business programs, the study of economics gives prospective managers the information needed to understand external and internal business climates, product and labor markets, consumer behavior, and economic policy making. A variety of economics courses offer students practice with the tools and techniques used in trend forecasting, demand analysis, strategic decision making and more.
Business Law – Business schools in the U.S. offer courses that provide an overview of key aspects of the interface between business operations and the U.S. legal system. Common topics include employment/labor law, corporate law, contracts, commercial litigation, intellectual property, international trade, tax law, and many others. Expect to study precedent-setting cases and be challenged by the effort to keep up with the constantly changing legal context that modern enterprises operate in.
This is just a brief listing of potential areas of study that business management students may engage in. Other important and common course topics include Business Ethics, Human Resources Management, Principles of Finance, Management Information Systems, and Organizational Behavior.
What are the benefits of a business management degree?
When evaluating the benefits of completing a degree program, it is natural for prospective students to focus on the potential job opportunities and compensation levels that await graduates. From that standpoint, a business management degree is quite rewarding.
Job opportunities for business management degree holders are found in a wide variety of organizations. Possibilities are nearly endless, but a sampling would include government, manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality, banking/finance, and non-profit organizations. These are some common occupations that a business management degree can prepare you for:
- Business Development/Consulting
- Hospitality Management
- Human Resource Administration
- Organizational Analysis
- Production Management
- Project Management
- Regional Operations Management
- Retail Store Management
- Small Business Management
The employment picture is positive. Demand for business management professionals is predicted to increase by 25% through 2018. Opportunities are expected to be expanding in many of the occupational spaces typically occupied by business management graduates. For example, figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicate an 8% growth in office manager jobs into 2024. During the same time period, general and operations management positions are expected to increase by 7%, and the number of financial analyst positions will rise by 12%.
Starting salaries in business management vary according to the course work covered and specialty field, the career chosen after graduation, job, size and type of employer, location, and experience. The National Association of Colleges and Employers Winter 2018 salary survey revealed an overall average salary projection of $56,720 for graduates with bachelor’s degrees in all business majors. Business management bachelor’s degree holders drew an average salary of $60,000. The top-paying job was Operations Manager at $63,886 annually.
Detailed BLS figures reveal a mean annual salary of $98,930 for office managers in May 2016. The bottom 10% of the range took home $49,270 or less annually, while the top 10% earned $159,330 or more. During the same time frame, financial analysts earned a mean of $97,640. General and operations managers had an average salary of $122,090.
Is a business management degree right for you?
Before investing 4 years to study business management at the undergraduate level, or around 2 years to do a master’s program, you need to decide if this is the right degree for you. Of course you are interested in business and would like a solid, well-paying career. But are you a people person and good listener? Are you an organized person and an agile multi-tasker? Do you find the world of finance and economic numbers fascinating?
Reflect on your true interests and skillset. Your quantitative-analytic skills should be above average as demonstrated by the GMAT or work experience. You must be competitive, with a drive to succeed. If you have all that and can imagine yourself making tough decisions while leading teams of people, business management could be for you. With sufficient passion and excellent self-management skills, you can change your life by earning a degree in business management.