Business Degrees Build Solid Foundation

In an increasingly diverse and global marketplace, some students may wonder about the long-term relevancy of a specific area of study.

One option for addressing such uncertainty may be to pursue a degree in a business-related field, such as business administration, which can offer a strong foundation for professional advancement while also providing a degree of versatility.

Business acumen can be an important factor in attaining success in a variety of career fields and a business degree also can provide a buffer against shifts in the job market.

Business-related industries were among the most stable for recent college graduates, according to a January 2012 study by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. The study also found that recent business majors enjoyed a lower unemployment rate (7.4%) than many of their counterparts. Overall, the average unemployment rate for students with new bachelor’s degrees was 8.9%.

There are several points worth pondering when weighing the potential benefits of a business degree, among them:

 ● Concepts that Translate: All businesses need solutions that boost performance, increase organizational effectiveness and build productive teams. Business degrees typically cover concepts that can be translated across industries.

Experience and Networking: Well-established professional business organizations can provide students with the opportunity to seek internships, request mentoring, volunteer for related projects and engage in professional development.

Several organizations, including the Business Professionals of America and the Project Management Institute, offer resources to help individuals build the communication, problem-solving and other “soft skills” that can be critical to success in various fields.

Flexibility and Growth Potential

Several business-related careers are expected to see faster-than-average growth through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-2013 Edition. For example, employment among market research analysts is projected to jump by more than 40% before the decade’s end, while accountants and auditors should see about 16% employment growth, the BLS reported.

A 2012 survey of recent college graduates by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that the average salary for business majors was $48,144 in 2011, up 3.8% from the previous year.

That represented the second-highest increase among eight career categories, including: communications, computer science, education, engineering, health sciences, humanities and social sciences, and math and sciences. The biggest salary jump (4.1%) was reported in the computer science category.

Within the overall business category, the survey found that the average salary for marketing majors rose by more than 4% to $51,200 and the average for accounting majors was $50,500, a bump of 3.7% over 2010.

As the marketplace evolves – and an individual’s life situation and interests fluctuate over time – a business degree can provide a solid foundation from which to build new skills and career opportunities. With a growing number of regionally accredited colleges and universities now offering degree programs online, there is more flexibility and convenience for prospective students who may have to juggle work, family or military commitments.

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