Updated 8 October 2020
A business major is a degree qualification that allows students to learn fundamental business knowledge.
It provides a broad education and study is at first general, but there are later options to specialize. The average business major takes four years to complete.
Subject areas often include economics, management, marketing, accounting and human resources. Study also regularly touches on communication and ethics.
Example modules might include financial accounting, micro and macro-economics, business mathematics, business law and marketing principles.
Knowledge and training in this wide variety of areas means that business majors are well suited to many different jobs.
This article will explore the top 10 roles for business majors which utilize their honed critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
For certain careers, further study will be required – but a business major gives a strong skill set to build on.
There is also the option to go on to a more advanced business degree program such as a Master of Business Administration degree (MBA) or an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA).
This option can be further explored in our comparison article, EMBA vs MBA: What Are the Key Differences?
Students studying a business major pick up many skills that are in high demand from employers.
Due to its breadth, a business degree provides students with a variety of technical and analytical skills, alongside strong communication and people skills.
Modules in economics, finance and mathematics give those with a business major a talent for data analysis and consideration of financial implications.
Many modules within a business major require students to work in groups to complete a project. This means that business majors have experience of working in teams to deliver results and can often navigate team dynamics and the challenges of working together adeptly.
These projects also often culminate in a pitch or presentation, meaning that business majors get plenty of opportunities to hone their presentation and public speaking skills.
It is also likely they have at least once been required to lead their project team to produce a pitch, case study or viability evaluation.
Written communication skills are also developed through writing business cases, which require a clear and concise writing style.
Studying HR and ethics gives students a rounded education that has imparted the key social and reflective skills needed to work appropriately and successfully in the business environment.
Below is our list of the top ten jobs for students with a business major.
The variety of career options available from studying business means that you will be able to find a job that suits you, whatever your academic leaning within the field.
Average salary: $71,550 p.a.
Working as an accountant suits those who have studied a business major as it taps into their financial knowledge and training around optimizing business resources.
Accountants help businesses to run their operations whilst maximizing their profits and abiding by legal regulations.
Day-to-day, accountants log and report the financial transactions of a business, dealing with billing, invoices and asset management. Accountants may also work as a consultant, conduct financial audits and help with tax planning.
Accountancy is a service required by all types of businesses and non-profit organizations, so there are opportunities to work within different sectors.
A business major covers accounting fundamentals, teaching financial analysis, laws and regulations, and developing a student's ability to make strategic financial business recommendations.
To be an accountant in the US, however, you will need to sit a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam.
If you intend to be an auditor or a management accountant, you will need to sit either the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) exam instead.
You must also take a short ethics exam, which is administered by AICPA.
To apply for your state license to become a Certified Public Accountant, you must have completed a minimum of six months to two years’ work experience, depending on the state.
Average salary: $105,000 p.a.
The role of actuary is suited to detail-oriented business majors who enjoy quantitative analysis.
Actuaries work in the insurance industry calculating the probability and risk of events – such as illness, property damage, accident or death.
This allows the insurance broker to issue the correct level of policy to an individual or company.
The work relies heavily on analyzing scenarios through predicted data as well as past and accumulated data of similar circumstances.
Study during a business major, such as statistical data analysis and familiarity with spreadsheets and software, is useful for the job.
As with most roles in the working world, the communication skills developed through a business major are also valuable. Actuaries will be required to explain and sometimes defend their recommendations to their superiors.
To become an actuary, you will need to sit actuarial exams, which can be sat whilst you are earning your major.
The exams sat differ slightly according to which professional organization you seek to gain accreditation from, the Society of Actuaries (SOA) or the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS).
There are different requirements to become an Associate, Chartered Analyst or Fellow of each and you will likely work through this structure to bring reputational kudos throughout your career.
Average salary: $43,000 p.a.
If you have completed a business major, you already have a keen interest in the business and financial sectors. Becoming a reporter allows you to convey important developments and issues to the wider public.
A business reporter may write news and interest articles for print or web. They may also have broadcast responsibilities.
The skills of analysis – in terms of companies, industries and products – learned during your business degree will help you to write engaging and detailed articles on the implications or direct impacts of business decisions.
Business reporting is perfect for business majors with strong written and verbal communication skills, who are fascinated by business but seek a more creative career than quantitative analysis.
It is worth noting that reporting on the events and developments of the business and finance world is a fast-paced and competitive career path. It will likely require a significant amount of work experience, evidenced by a portfolio of your published work.
A business major will, however, give you a great base from which to draw your insights and analysis on global developments.
Average salary: $42,000/$47,000 p.a. (increases depending on experience)
Taking a business major can lead to a rewarding career in education; teaching business as a high school subject or delivering a business program at a university.
The presentation, communication and leadership skills developed while completing a business major will help with delivering lessons that engage students.
You will get to continue learning yourself too, for and from your students.
Business teachers need to be well-read in current trends and business events to deliver an up-to-date curriculum to their students.
Business lecturers are required to contribute to their university’s research profile through new research contributions to the field.
To teach in any capacity, further study is needed.
To become a school teacher, you will need to gain your Teacher Certification or License. There are separate licenses for teaching different grades, but the subject of Business will be taught under the 9th to 12th-grade license.
You will need to complete a state-approved teacher preparation program and pass all the exams. The most common teaching qualification is Praxis, but note that pass marks differ according to the state you are in.
Gaining teaching experience is also important in achieving your license, as you will need a certain number of student teaching hours on your record.
An alternative teacher certification is also available for those already established in other careers – referred to as 'career-changers'.
This is administered by the National Organisation for Alternative Certification and aims to address the teaching shortage by providing a faster path to qualification.
The path to academia is slightly different. A business lecturer position will require a high mark in a business major, a master’s degree and a PhD, alongside reputable published material, strong research skills and innovative ideas for new publications.
This option requires a greater time commitment to achieve, as it usually takes a minimum of seven years of study to become a university lecturer.
Average salary: $122,000 p.a.
A broad knowledge of business process and practice is necessary when working as a corporate or business attorney.
Corporate law is offered as a module in most business majors and opens up the possibility of specializing in this area.
Corporate attorneys need extensive knowledge of topics such as contracts, securities, bankruptcy and mergers.
The skills obtained when researching, gathering evidence and presenting during a business major will aid an attorney in organizing and delivering their work.
To work as a corporate attorney, you will first need to go to law school.
Business majors with an excellent academic record and a high Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score have a good chance of being accepted into a top law school.
It may take a significant amount of extra study but working as a business attorney is a rewarding career path, in terms of both fulfillment and remuneration.
Average salary: $80,000 p.a.
Financial analysts make investment and resourcing recommendations to companies (or individuals). They have an in-depth knowledge of different markets, such as stocks or bonds, and seek to maximize returns for their clients through creating an appreciating investment portfolio.
They interpret financial statements, consider the company’s financial metrics and present their recommendations.
The knowledge of accounting, mathematics, economics and finance acquired through a business major means that graduates are well suited to this career.
Specific skills developed during a business major, such as analyzing economic trends, evaluating financial data and distilling this information for reporting, are major components of the day-to-day work of a financial analyst.
It is worth noting, though, that most top financial analysts have not just a business major but an MBA degree too.
Due to the flexible nature of this higher education qualification, however, it may be possible to study for an EMBA whilst in role as an analyst.
Average salary: $85,000 p.a.
Management consultants analyze their clients’ businesses, helping to render processes more efficient, streamlined and profitable.
The process undertaken is not unlike that experienced on a smaller or hypothetical scale when completing projects for a business major.
Business students are often set a task to analyze the viability or effectiveness of certain business operations and provide a report on recommended improvements.
The use of the software, data analysis and visualization skills obtained during a business major helps management consultants to convey their recommendations to their clients.
As these are often unlikely to be received without any resistance, the ability to structure a clear argument and communicate concisely is invaluable.
Working as a management consultant also provides great scope for variety. You will likely have the opportunity to work within a vast number of different companies and across sectors, to help each client improve their unique business.
There is also often travel involved. An established top management consultancy’s client portfolio is likely to be national, if not international.
Management consulting is a fascinating, multifaceted career that enables you to utilize and develop the skills and knowledge seeded during your study and make a tangible difference to business operations.
Average salary: $60,000 p.a.
Market research analysts monitor the market to determine – and predict – consumer demand.
Companies employ market research analysts to help manage and shape their product or service offering to ensure its profitability.
Market researchers may also be involved in analysis to inform and develop accompanying sales campaigns. They will monitor sales, review marketing plans and gather data to inform company decisions.
The knowledge of marketing and fundamental business principles obtained through a business major are employed in this role.
Understanding the wider processes of the business will help market research analysts to see how their work fits into the bigger picture, enabling them to prepare informed, targeted and detailed analysis.
Data analysis and familiarity with software and visualization are also useful for market research roles.
Researchers will likely be required to present their findings – either internally or to a client, if they work on a consultancy basis – and make recommendations on the best direction of travel.
They must be able to confidently and concisely talk through graphs and charts that visualize the evidence.
Average salary: $70,000 p.a.
Working in operations involves analyzing how organizational systems influence the products and services of a company.
Operations analysts make sure the business is meeting client or customer demand and that processes are being effectively managed to ensure profitability. They keep an eye on aspects such as purchasing, supply chain logistics, quality control and use of resources.
The quantitative knowledge gained through a business major is useful for analyzing business operations, reviewing processes, and restructuring or maintaining systems.
Skills in teamwork and communication are also valuable, as an operations manager’s work will impact many other employees.
Opportunities are varied as many sectors require operations management. This means there is ample chance to work across industries and for businesses that produce and deliver vastly different products and services.
This variety appeals to business majors as they can apply the core tenets needed to streamline operations and achieve business success in many different scenarios.
Average salary: $70,000 p.a.
A sales manager position is well suited to a business major who enjoys working with people.
Unlike the detail-orientated desk-based work of an analyst or actuary, working as a sales manager provides the opportunity to dynamically lead a team.
Sales managers ensure that a company’s products or services are being effectively sold.
The role requires practical knowledge of marketing and sales; the knowlege of business processes obtained through a business major is highly beneficial.
Organizational skills are key to being able to successfully develop and monitor a sales strategy, and strong people skills are vital to its implementation.
A sales manager role utilizes both the skills of data analysis and working with people, which makes it an appealing choice for a challenging and varied career.
No further study is needed for a sales manager role – it is a senior position that is worked towards through obtaining relevant experience in sales and excelling in these roles.
A business major can lead to a variety of fulfilling careers that tap into the different knowledge areas and skill sets developed throughout study.
Due to the broad nature of a business major, there is ample opportunity to find roles in the finance, marketing, accounting, corporate law, operations, consulting or education sector.
The correct career choice for you will depend on which aspects of your major interested you the most, and the fields in which you excelled.
It is worth thinking carefully about your favorite modules and exploring the careers related to those, as you are more likely to be successful and satisfied in a job you find truly engaging.
The right career path will also be determined by whether you wish to commit to extra study or would prefer to get straight into the workplace.
The large choice of job roles available, however, is a testament to the excellent foundation a business major provides.
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