Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Benefits of a Business Major: Employment and Compensation

In today’s economy, students with a major in business from an accredited school can be in high demand. Within today’s business colleges, students can chose from a wide variety of majors ranging form the traditional business administration and general business to more specialized degrees such as human resources, supply chain logistics and information technology. Modern corporations are complex organizations and seek a wide range of specialists to help them manage operations.

For undergraduate business majors with a bachelor’s degree, starting salaries can range anywhere between $35,000 to $50,000, depending on the chosen specialty within the major as well as the geographic location of the job. Within business colleges, the most common majors are generally administration, finance, marketing, accounting and economics. Since most colleges require a “core” set of courses for all majors, there are a number of jobs for which nearly all business majors can quality. In general, job opportunities in financial services, health care and information technology provide the greatest compensation out of school, whereas sales and retail management jobs tend to pay less. A growing number of manufacturing firms also seek recent graduates to help manage plant operations; manufacturing management can be a lucrative career choice under the right conditions. Accounting majors who earn a CPA accreditation have among the most stable job markets, as annual demand for certified accountants almost always exceeds the supply.

Students who opt for an initial associates degree in business will find the best job prospects in technology related fields, as companies have a growing demand for information technology specialists. Training in areas such as databases (Oracle, Microsoft, mySQL) and computer security can help improve both your career and compensation prospects. Employers report a demand for graduates with strong analytical and quantitative skills, in additional to general qualities. Associates degree holders can earn starting salaries ranging from $25,000 to $40,000, depending on the sub-field.

For students who pursue a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA), both starting salaries and job opportunities increase, especially for those from top tier schools. Starting salaries for qualified MBA candidates generally start in the $60,000 range and head into 6-figures for the most highly qualified candidates. Within MBA specialties, average starting salaries at accredited schools are roughly $80,000 with students in finance and IT graduate majors earning above the mean. For experienced professionals, the starting salary with an executive MBA is nearly $100,000, although this reflects pre-existing experience levels. Importantly, there is a wide variance in starting salaries by state, with jobs in New York and California paying significantly more, which reflects a concentration of competitive companies, as well as an adjustment for the higher cost of living. Just as undergraduate and associates IT majors are in high demand, MBA candidates with a focus in IT tend to earn significantly above the average starting salary, as do the top financial MBA students who can enter executive level finance positions.

Today’s employment market provides a wide variety of opportunity for business majors, although students who chose to focus on highly demanded areas will find a higher degree of interest in the job market. In particular, business majors with a strong quantitative background, along with requisite IT and management experience will be able to meet an increasing number of opportunities in the work force.

For those looking to get a business major, I’d recommend checking out our list of the best business schools.

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