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Business - Career Information

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Business Career Overview

More than 6.6 million people were employed in the business and financial operations sector as of May 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While many business professionals in the sector work in private industry, others are employed for local, state and federal governments. However, the broad category of business can apply to a vast number of occupations, all of which contribute in one way or another to the business enterprise.

The list of business occupations varies from budget analyst to fundraiser, and tax examiner to retail buyer. However, over 1 million people are employed either as accountants or auditors. These professionals have many responsibilities that focus on preserving the fiscal health and integrity of a business enterprise. They need to ensure that taxes are accurate and paid in a timely manner, they have to maintain records and also verify financial documents they receive. They might work specifically for a corporation, nonprofit, government agency, or manage their own business. While most accountants and auditors do work a standard 40-hour week in a office setting, they typically put in much longer hours during the tax season.

Business careers are not always limited to accounting and auditing, however. There are other occupations in business that remain tied to numbers, but that relate to other aspects of the field, such as risk and forecasting, for example. Cost estimators, insurance underwriters and loan officers all perform this type of work. Additionally, some professionals adept at excellent communication might wish to pursue jobs as emergency management directors, fundraisers, and personal financial advisors, all of which are based upon clear and direct communication. The median annual wage for all those employed in business and financial operations occupations was $63,800 as of May 2013.

Top Careers in Business Administration

The occupations available in business are numerous and varied, but some of the well-known careers are listed below:

  • Accountants and Auditors
  • Budget Analysts
  • Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators
  • Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists
  • Cost Estimators
  • Credit Analysts
  • Emergency Management Directors
  • Emergency Management Specialists
  • Employment Specialists
  • Financial Analysts
  • Financial Examiners
  • Financial Managers
  • Financial Specialists
  • Fundraisers
  • Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists
  • Insurance Underwriters
  • Loan Counselors
  • Loan Officers
  • Logisticians
  • Management Analysts
  • Market Research Analysts
  • Operations Research Analysts
  • Personal Financial Advisors
  • Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents
  • Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents
  • Wholesale and Retail Buyers

A brief description of a few of these specialties are provided in more detail as follows, using BLS data:

Career TypeWhat they DoNumber Employed in the U.S., as of 2013Where they Usually Work
Budget AnalystsDevelop organizational budgets and review proposals for accuracy and compliance.58,740Federal government, schools, non-profits
Cost EstimatorsEstimate the labor, money, materials and time needed for completion of a project.202,600In offices, but also construction sites and factory floors
Emergency Management DirectorsDevise procedures and plans to follow in the case of an emergency, including a natural disaster.9,800Local government agencies
FundraisersOversee campaigns and events to raise money for a particular person or organization.50,530Civic, grant-making, professional and religious groups
Insurance underwritersEstimate the insurance risk of covering certain people, screen applicants and decide whether to offer insurance.276,760Insurance carriers
LogisticiansDevelop relationships with customers and suppliers and organize a company's supply chain.120,340Manufacturing, the federal government, transportation equipment manufacturing
Market Research AnalystsAssess and forecast marketing trends, and measure the effectiveness of particular marketing strategies.430,350Finance and insurance, consulting firms
Personal Financial AdvisorsProvide financial advice to clients, helping them with investments, insurance and taxes.183,420In offices, primarily for financial and insurance companies
Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing AgentsAttend meetings and trade shows, evaluate suppliers and negotiate with vendors.69,620In offices, for manufacturing and wholesale trade
Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue AgentsReview filed taxes and contact taxpayers to resolve issues.64,790Office environment, for federal, state and local governments

Business Education Career Training & Schools

Although many business degrees are available at the undergraduate level, a Bachelor's degree is typically needed to obtain a position of responsibility. Employers may also be intrigued by employees who are interested in continuing education and show evidence of pursuing a Master's degree or even a graduate-level certificate in their field. This may allow their skills to become more nuanced and specialized in what they practice.

While a certificate or Associate degree in Accounting, Economics, Finance, or a related area may often be sufficient for adults seeking an entry-level position, a Bachelor's degree in Finance, Mathematics, Accounting, Statistics, Economics, Law, or Business is strongly advised for anyone wishing to become a financial planner. However, those with a Master's degree or an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) tend to have much higher levels of opportunity. In order to obtain a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license (required for many accountants), most states require 150 semester hours of college coursework, which entails an additional 30 hours beyond the typical four-year Bachelor's degree. Most CPA licenses must be renewed periodically and a certain number of hours of continuing professional education are required. A number of educational programs and occupations requiring those specific degrees are listed in the table below, sourced from the BLS.

Type of programNumber of years to completeTypes of careers that require this
Associate degreeTwo yearsLogisticians, marketing
Bachelor's degreeFour yearsPurchasing manager, market researcher, insurance underwriters, fundraisers, emergency management directors, accountants and auditors
Master's degreeTwo years, in addition to a Bachelor's degreeBusiness administration, MBA, entrepreneurship, international business

Sources

Occupational Employment and Wages, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/

Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/

"Professional and Business Services," Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag60.htm

13-0000 Business and Financial Operations Occupations (Major Group), Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes130000.htm

Schools for Business are listed in the column to the left.

Careers and Salary Data

This table shows summary data on occupations in the US. Clicking on any occupation name brings you to a page showing job prospects and salaries for that occupation in hundreds of metro areas across the country, with data updated through 2022.(Where data is denoted by an asterisk (*), summary info was not available.

Click each Occupation title for more details.


Business and Financial

OccupationJobs
(2016)
Median Pay
(2016)
% Growth
2014-2024
Accountants and Auditors1,241,000     $69,350     10.0%
Budget Analysts54,550     $75,240     6.5%
Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators282,030     $64,900     -1.5%
Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis SpecialistsN/A     N/A     N/A
Credit Analysts74,850     $71,290     8.4%
Emergency Management Directors9,560     $72,760     7.7%
Emergency Management SpecialistsN/A     N/A     N/A
Employment Specialists553,950     $60,350     7.1%
Financial Analysts294,110     $84,300     10.8%
Financial Examiners52,580     $81,690     9.8%
Financial Managers569,380     $125,080     18.7%
Financial Specialists125,900     $69,520     8.7%
Fundraisers72,920     $55,640     14.6%
Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations SpecialistsN/A     N/A     N/A
Insurance Underwriters89,910     $69,760     -5.2%
Loan Counselors35,900     $44,710     13.9%
Loan Officers307,240     $64,660     11.5%
Logisticians159,800     $74,590     6.9%
Management Analysts659,200     $82,450     12.0%
Market Research AnalystsN/A     N/A     N/A
Operations Research Analysts106,050     $81,390     27.4%
Personal Financial Advisors200,920     $90,640     14.4%
Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing AgentsN/A     N/A     -5.6%
Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents56,660     $53,130     -0.6%
Wholesale and Retail BuyersN/A     N/A     -1.9%

Selected Schools for Business (including any online schools)

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