Business Administration Education and Careers

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What Is Business Administration?

Business administration involves the performance, management, and administrative functions of business operations. Many companies have multiple departments and personnel that can fall under the business administration heading.

Business administration can encompass:

  • Finance: The finance department manages money (both incoming and outgoing) and other financial resources for a business.
  • Economics: An economist monitors and predicts economic trends. 
  • Human Resources: A human resources department helps to manage human capital and benefits. They plan and direct many key administrative functions of a business.
  • Marketing: The marketing department develops campaigns to bring in customers and improve brand awareness.
  • Advertising: The advertising department finds ways to promote a business or the business's products and services.
  • Logistics: This department works to get products to consumers by coordinating people, facilities, and supplies.
  • Operations: An operations manager oversees the day-to-day operations of a business.
  • Management: Managers may supervise projects or people. In a hierarchical organization, managers may work in low-level management, middle-level management, and top-level management.

Business Administration Education

Some business administration jobs require advanced degrees; others require no degree at all. This is why there are many different business administration education options. You could benefit from on-the-job training, seminars, and certificate programs. Some business administration professionals also choose to earn an associate's, bachelor's, master's, or even a doctoral degree.

The education option you choose should depend on what you want to do in a business administration career. If you want a job at the entry-level, you may be able to begin work while you get an education. If you would like to work in management or a supervisory position, some formal education may be required before a job appointment. Here is a breakdown of the most common business administration education options.

  • On-the-Job Training: Training is provided on-the-job. Unlike many of the other options below, you are typically paid for the on-the-job training and do not have to pay tuition. Training time can vary depending on the job.
  • Continuing Education: Continuing education may be provided through colleges, universities, business schools, and other academic institutions. You may take courses or a short seminar to earn continuing education credits or a certificate of completion.
  • Certificate Programs: Certificate programs tend to focus on a very specific topic, such as customer service or tax accounting. These programs are generally offered through colleges, universities, business schools, and other academic institutions. Tuition is often cheaper for a certificate program than it is for a degree program. The amount of time it takes to complete a program varies; most programs are one month to one year in duration.
  • Associate's Degree in Business Administration: An Associate in Business Administration can be earned from a college, university, or business school. You should seek out an accredited program with a curriculum that covers topics you need to know or are interested in. Most associate's programs take two years to complete.
  • Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration: A Bachelor in Business Administration is a minimum requirement for many jobs in the business field. This type of degree can be earned from a college, university, or business school and typically takes four years of full-time study to complete. Accelerated and part-time programs are available. A bachelor's program in business administration sometimes offers opportunities to specialize.
  • Master's Degree in Business Administration: A Master in Business Administration, also known as an MBA degree, is an advanced degree option for business majors. An MBA may also be a minimum requirement for some jobs in the business field. Accelerated programs take one year to complete. Traditional MBA programs take two years to complete. Part-time options are also available. Many people choose to earn this degree from a business school, but a master's program can be found at many other colleges and universities with graduate-level study options.
  • Doctorate Degree in Business Administration: A doctorate or Ph.D. in Business Administration is the highest business degree that can be earned. This option is best for students who are interested in teaching or pursuing field research. A doctorate degree generally requires four to six years of study.

Business Certifications

There are a number of different professional certifications or designations available to people in the business administration field. Most can be earned after completing your education or after working in the field for a specific amount of time. In most cases, such certifications are not required for employment but can help you look more attractive and qualified to potential employers. Some examples of business administration certifications include:

  • Certified Business Manager (CBM): This certification is ideal for business generalists, MBA grads, and non-MBA grads who want a business credential.
  • PMI Certifications: The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers several certification options for project managers at all skill and education levels.
  • HRCI Certifications: The Human Resources Certification Institutes offers several certifications for human resources professionals at varying levels of expertise.
  • Certified Management Accountant: The Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential is awarded to accountants and financial professionals in the business.

There are a lot of other certifications that can be earned as well. For example, you can earn certifications in computer software applications that are commonly used in business administration. Word processing or spreadsheet related certifications can be valuable assets for people seeking an administrative position in the business field. See more professional business certifications that could make you more marketable to employers. 

Business Administration Careers

Your career options in business administration will depend largely on your education level as well as your other qualifications. For example, do you have an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree? Do you have any certifications? Do you have prior work experience in the field? Are you a capable leader? Do you have a record of proven performance? What special skills do you have? All of these things determine whether or not you are qualified for a specific position. That said, many different jobs may be open to you in the business administration field. Some of the most popular options include:

  • Accountant: Industries include tax preparation, payroll accounting, bookkeeping services, financial accounting, accounting management, government accounting, and insurance accounting.
  • Advertising Executive: Advertising executives and managers are needed to create, coordinate, and roll out advertising campaigns for every type of business that offers a product or service.
  • Business Manager: Business managers are employed by both small and large companies; opportunities are available at every level of management--from department supervisor to operations management.
  • Finance Officer: Finance officers can be employed by any business that has money coming in or going out. Positions vary from entry-level to management.
  • Human Resources Manager: Government employs the largest percentage of human resources managers. Positions are also available in company management, manufacturing, professional and technical services, health care fields, and social service agencies.
  • Management Analyst: Most management analysts are self-employed. About 20 percent work for small or large consulting firms. Management analysts can also be found in government and the finance and insurance industries.
  • Marketing Specialist: Every business industry employs marketing specialists. Career opportunities also exist with research firms, civic organizations, academic institutions, and government agencies
  • Office Administrator: Most office administrators work in educational services, healthcare, state and local government, and insurance. Positions also exist in professional services and within almost any office setting.
  • Public Relations Specialist: Public relations specialists can be found in any business industry. Many career opportunities can also be found within government, healthcare, and religious and civic organizations.
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Schweitzer, Karen. "Business Administration Education and Careers." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Schweitzer, Karen. (2023, April 5). Business Administration Education and Careers. Retrieved from Schweitzer, Karen. "Business Administration Education and Careers." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).