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:
A brief description of a few of these specialties are provided in more detail as follows, using BLS data:
|Career Type||What they Do||Number Employed in the U.S., as of 2013||Where they Usually Work|
|Budget Analysts||Develop organizational budgets and review proposals for accuracy and compliance.||58,740||Federal government, schools, non-profits|
|Cost Estimators||Estimate the labor, money, materials and time needed for completion of a project.||202,600||In offices, but also construction sites and factory floors|
|Emergency Management Directors||Devise procedures and plans to follow in the case of an emergency, including a natural disaster.||9,800||Local government agencies|
|Fundraisers||Oversee campaigns and events to raise money for a particular person or organization.||50,530||Civic, grant-making, professional and religious groups|
|Insurance underwriters||Estimate the insurance risk of covering certain people, screen applicants and decide whether to offer insurance.||276,760||Insurance carriers|
|Logisticians||Develop relationships with customers and suppliers and organize a company's supply chain.||120,340||Manufacturing, the federal government, transportation equipment manufacturing|
|Market Research Analysts||Assess and forecast marketing trends, and measure the effectiveness of particular marketing strategies.||430,350||Finance and insurance, consulting firms|
|Personal Financial Advisors||Provide financial advice to clients, helping them with investments, insurance and taxes.||183,420||In offices, primarily for financial and insurance companies|
|Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents||Attend meetings and trade shows, evaluate suppliers and negotiate with vendors.||69,620||In offices, for manufacturing and wholesale trade|
|Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents||Review filed taxes and contact taxpayers to resolve issues.||64,790||Office 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 program||Number of years to complete||Types of careers that require this|
|Associate degree||Two years||Logisticians, marketing|
|Bachelor's degree||Four years||Purchasing manager, market researcher, insurance underwriters, fundraisers, emergency management directors, accountants and auditors|
|Master's degree||Two years, in addition to a Bachelor's degree||Business administration, MBA, entrepreneurship, international business|
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.
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.
|Accountants and Auditors||1,259,930|
|Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators||287,730|
|Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialists||N/A|
|Emergency Management Directors||9,550|
|Emergency Management Specialists||N/A|
|Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists||N/A|
|Market Research Analysts||N/A|
|Operations Research Analysts||104,200|
|Personal Financial Advisors||200,260|
|Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents||N/A|
|Tax Examiners and Collectors, and Revenue Agents||54,550|
|Wholesale and Retail Buyers||N/A|