The Top Business Degrees in Demand and their Potential Payoff
After years in the workforce paying your dues, you’ve been eyeing a promotion at your company. You know you have the work and life experience to bring to the table, but your resume never sparks an interview because you never earned your degree. You’ve thought about returning to school, but how do you know your tuition and time will pay off in the end?
Let’s get down to business – literally. Whether you are looking for the next step in your career path or hoping to lay the groundwork for a new direction, a college degree can provide the education you may need and make a significant difference in your earning potential. Enrolling in one of the top in-demand on-campus or online business degrees can give you the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the ever-changing business world.
Is a Business Degree Worth It in 2021?
Findings from a Pew Research study show that employees who hold a bachelor’s degree or higher earn more than their counterparts with the same level of education from prior generations did at the same age. Those with a high school diploma or some college are earning less than their historical counterparts. The conclusion is clear: A degree is an essential component in the modern job-seeker's toolkit.
Business degrees are popular pursuits at the bachelor's level, having claimed the highest number of degree conferrals in the 2018-19 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
You can become a more competitive candidate for jobs with the help of a bachelor's degree, especially if there is a sustained demand in the field you select for your study. Employment in business and finance, for instance, is expected to grow 8% through 2030 – adding approximately 750,800 new jobs.
Business degree salaries are often attractive as well. The median salary in business and finance fields was $72,250 in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Zeroing in on the top business degrees in demand will help you fill the skills gaps employers are seeking to fill as their companies and business needs evolve and make you a more marketable prospect among your peers.
What is the Best Major in Business Administration?
Part of the appeal of a business degree is its combination of practical focus and academic challenge, along with the diversity of opportunities upon graduation. So, how do you settle on a program of study?
One of the most in-demand business degrees online is the bachelor's in business administration program. This broad business program focuses on developing leadership and managerial skills while also building a foundation in accounting, marketing and business law that will prepare you for a supervisory role in your choice of government, nonprofit or corporate environments.
You can do many things with a business degree. Within a bachelor's in business administration program, you can choose from more than 12 concentrations if you'd like to focus on a particular area of business in your studies.
The best business administration major depends entirely on your interests and career goals. Some options you have include:
- Bachelor's in business admin - entrepreneurship
- Bachelor's in business admin - industrial-organizational psychology
- Bachelor's in business admin - international business
- Bachelor's in business admin - organizational leadership
- Bachelor's in business admin - public administration
As a graduate, you should feel prepared to interpret trends, apply ethics to your decision-making and manage change, among other skills employers seek and value. A bachelor's in business administration builds a scaffolding of analysis, critical thinking and problem solving that hiring managers find essential to workplace success.
What Business Majors Are Most in Demand?
Today’s employers are looking for candidates who have leadership and project management skills. Employees who are comfortable with technology, understand data and how to interpret it, and can work collaboratively as part of a team are best positioned to succeed.
If your interests are in a particular aspect of business, you may opt for a degree program that centers on that instead of choosing a business administration concentration. For example, if you work in marketing or hope to break into that department, you could earn a bachelor's in marketing instead of a bachelor's in business administration with a concentration in marketing.
You can choose the option that best reflects your career goals in other areas such as:
- Bachelor's in accounting
- Bachelor's in fashion merchandising
- Bachelor's in finance
- Bachelor's in healthcare administration
- Bachelor's in sports management
The communication, supervisory and management skills you can acquire in any of these programs can be translatable in the corporate, nonprofit and government sectors. Additionally, the project management expertise woven into each of these focus areas is applicable in any field post-graduation.
Bachelor's in Project Management
If you’ve got a head for logistics and process control, you may even decide to focus your business administration degree on project management. This degree will provide the fundamentals of management with a deep dive into the planning and decision-making critical to resolving the complex issues of today’s workplaces.
You should walk away from the degree with a strong understanding of supply chain management and the key trade-offs and components necessary to keep things running smoothly in your choice of settings, from nonprofits to universities to the manufacturing world.
This program may also present the opportunity to learn the Six Sigma management methodology, a data-driven approach to eliminating defects and process improvement that is widely heralded for its usefulness in any application.
If you are changing your career to become a project manager, the option to take part in an operations/project management internship provides the chance to apply the techniques you have studied while earning credits toward graduation. Your course of study will also help prepare you for the Project Management Institute's (CAPM®) certification exam.
Bachelor's in Accounting
It should perhaps be no surprise that one of the top business degrees in demand is a bachelor's in accounting. The analytical skills, critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities you develop in an accounting course of study can be used in any industry and are highly sought by hiring managers. Moreover, as the economy grows, so does the demand for skilled workers to prepare and examine financial records.
BLS predicts that the employment of accountants and auditors will grow 7% through 2030 – faster than the average for all occupations.
If you already know you want to become an accountant or are hoping to advance in your current organization, an online program that offers an accelerated degree track that provides a quicker path to receiving both your bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
You can choose to specialize further, too. A bachelor's in forensic accounting and fraud examination, for example, allows you to focus on developing the skills necessary to investigate, identify and investigate fraud, introducing you to common schemes and scams and providing a foundation of the legal aspects of fraud investigation.
An accounting degree can also unlock career opportunities besides accounting if you're interested in using money management and financial planning skills.
The Bottom Line: Which Business Major is Best for the Future?
Each year, the U.S. News and World Report magazine ranks the best business jobs based on median salary, employment prospects, work-life balance and more. The top five jobs for 2021 include:
- Medical and health services manager
- Financial manager
- Financial advisor
- Operations research analyst
Based on the highest predicted median salary, the top business positions in 2021 included:
- Financial manager
- Medical and health services manager
- Business operations manager
And, if you're already a member of the workforce or have other obligations filling your schedule, you can take advantage of online business schools and the flexibility they provide for busy learners.
When pursuing an online degree, you can still enjoy interactions and connections with fellow students. There are many opportunities to learn from each other and leverage those real-world experiences your classmates bring to the table. You may be online and sitting at your kitchen table, but you’re still part of a community.
Earning one of the top business degrees in demand is a significant first step toward reaching your goals. If your college or university has a career development team, you can take a step further by working on resume writing, mock interviews, understanding how to translate your newly developed tangible skills into language that hiring managers prize.
In addition to the jobs you can get with a bachelor's degree, there are many options to earn your master's degree. For example, you might consider earning a Master of Business Administration and choose from more than 15+ concentrations to give your career an extra boost.
In today’s fast-paced working world, every company needs business experts who can help them improve efficiency and productivity, think critically and collaborate effectively. The expertise and skills you will gain with any top business degrees in demand will help catapult your resume to the top of any hiring manager’s list.
Jen O'Callaghan is a freelance writer and editor. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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