7 Top Business Career Areas Worth Training For
Succeeding in business can take many different forms. Some people want to rise to top leadership positions. Others strive to create value or improve efficiencies as managers or administrators. And many are happiest when they are contributing their talents in an important support role. How you choose to approach a career in business is up to you.
But whatever you decide to pursue, it helps to know that opportunities are abundant. That's especially true in the world of small business, which consists of organizations with 500 employees or less. Just consider the facts that American small businesses:
- Totaled almost 28 million in number in 2010 compared to only 18,500 larger employers*
- Account for about 99.7 percent of all employers in the country*
- Have expanded in number by 49 percent since 1982*
- Have provided two-thirds of all new jobs in the U.S. since the 1970s*
Of course, it's possible to succeed in any size of organization. Business skills are just as valuable to a sole entrepreneur as they are to a manager or executive of a big multinational corporation. The key is to find a career area that capitalizes on your natural abilities and provides fulfillment and room to grow. Here are seven broad areas of business and organizational management that are known for satisfying career opportunities:
1. General Business and Project Management
This area is mostly about putting the goals of an organization's leadership team into action and coordinating the day-to-day operations that make them happen. That can involve daily, weekly, and monthly planning as well as motivating employees, directing their activities, and keeping them accountable.
Business management skills are very marketable. And project management abilities, which are closely related, are increasingly sought by employers that need professionals who know how to coordinate important projects through all stages of development.
Managers usually enjoy very good income potential. In 2015, the average salary for a general manager or operations manager in the U.S. was over $119,460. And those who help manage companies or corporate enterprises averaged salaries of close to $153,140.**
2. Business Administration
Like management, the area of administration is generally about carrying out high-level tasks that help an organization produce its desired outcomes. In this case, that often means refining or coming up with new processes or policies that will help make those goals more attainable. Although some overlap often exists with management, administrators generally aren't as involved in overseeing the daily activities of other employees.
Many people choose to focus on just one or a few areas of business administration. For example, it's common in many businesses to have different administrators who specialize in areas like finance, logistics, or human resources.
Salaries for people with business administration degrees can be very good, particularly for those who choose to emphasize a specific area. For instance, human resources managers in the U.S. earned, on average, more than $117,080 in 2015.**
3. Specialized Management and Administration
In this area, people complement their general business skills with additional abilities that are specific to a particular field or industry. The most popular example might be healthcare administration, which requires special knowledge related to managing organizations like medical clinics, hospitals, and community health agencies. Other prominent examples include:
- Culinary management—overseeing the operations of a restaurant
- Hospitality management—managing hotels or resorts
- Event management—planning and coordinating parties, ceremonies, conferences, and other special events
- Construction management—overseeing the building and maintenance of homes, office towers, bridges, and other structures
- Information technology management—coordinating an organization's technical team, network, and data systems
The pay and career outlook for people with such specialized management training is generally quite good. In fact, several jobs that pay over 100K are in this area of business. For example:
- Health services managers in the U.S. earned, on average, over $106,070 in 2015.** And employment in that field is expected to grow by 17 percent between 2014 and 2024.***
- The average salary of construction managers was $97,510.** The projected employment growth is 4.8 percent.***
- Managers in the field of computer-related services earned more than $141,000, on average.** And employment of such professionals is predicted to expand by 15 percent.***
4. Accounting and Bookkeeping Support
Keeping good financial records is crucial to any organization's long-term success. And things like how taxes are filed or financial transactions are reported can make a big difference to a company's overall bottom line. That's why professionals like accounting specialists and bookkeeping clerks are consistently in strong demand across almost all industries. And the average pay is compelling: In 2015, it was $75,280 for accountants and almost $39,000 for bookkeepers.**
5. Marketing and Communications
Identifying the right customers, pricing products and services strategically, and getting the word out is all vital if a company wishes to succeed. As a result, people who have the smarts and creativity to plan and create compelling marketing campaigns or clearly communicate an organization's message to the public are highly sought-after.
The field of marketing is one of the most exciting areas of business because new forms of communicating are always being created. For instance, just think about the impact that social media has had on the way organizations now promote themselves. Plus, it's possible to specialize in fun areas like fashion marketing or sports management and marketing.
Careers in this lively field often come with good pay. Look at these examples of average salaries from 2015:
- Marketing managers—$140,660**
- Market research analysts—$70,030**
- Public relations specialists—$65,830**
6. Administrative Assisting and General Office Support
Executives, managers, and administrators often count on the reliable support of business professionals skilled in performing important clerical tasks. Whether it involves creating reports, gathering research, coordinating meetings, greeting visitors, or handling phone calls, the role of an administrative assistant is often varied, but always essential. In the U.S., an executive assistant can make an average salary of about $55,460 or up to $79,500 or more with experience.**
7. International Business and Trade
Specializing in global commerce is a way to open up an even broader variety of opportunities. When you understand international business and trade and the special considerations involved in conducting business abroad, you can often find positions that pay higher salaries and come with the chance to travel to locations in some of the most fascinating parts of the world.
* U.S. Small Business Administration, website last accessed on November 26, 2015.
** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, website last accessed on April 7, 2016.
*** Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, website last accessed on February 25, 2016.