9 Jobs You Can Get With a Business Degree—From Finance to HR
Hot Jobs on The Muse
There’s no shortage of businessperson representation in pop culture. You have the fun-to-watch-but-terrible-to-work-for like Jack Donaghy or Miranda Priestly; the ruthless and legitimately concerning like Jordan Belfort or anyone on Succession; the actually relatable like Jim and Pam; and the “I feel deeply seen” like Vincent Adultman (the BoJack Horseman character who was actually three children in a trench coat pretending to “do a business”).
But outside of these extremes, there are also the characters (and maybe people in your own life) who reference their offscreen office, boss, and coworkers while wearing lots of blazers, solid-color button-down shirts, or suits. This vague “business” job has become almost a default when thinking about white-collar jobs.
So it’s no surprise that business is one of the most popular college majors in the country. (In fact, in the most recent year with available data, 11% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded by U.S. colleges were in business.) But it’s also no surprise that you might have questions about what to do with your business degree. What can you do with it? Short answer: Almost anything.
People with business degrees “know how to build a business around their desired work,” says Arkadiusz Mironko, a management professor at Indiana University East’s School of Business and Economics who’s advised hundreds of students on their careers. So if you’re pursuing one, or are considering it, know that there are a number of jobs your major lays the groundwork for, including roles in finance, insurance, sales, marketing, HR, and tech. We’ve put together a list of nine jobs for those with business degrees as well as where people in these roles usually work, what skills and qualities they need, and how to get started.
Top skills business majors have
As a business student, you probably focused on a certain area like information systems or management (or maybe you majored in one of these areas at a business college). And you’ve likely come away with a number of soft and hard skills related to that concentration. However, no matter what your specialty, chances are you’ve also gained a few core skills that are highly transferable and valuable to employers across various industries at all types of companies.
- Flexibility: Business majors are “agile enough to be a chameleon,” says Muse coach Nadia Ibrahim-Taney M.Ed., MA, who's also a career coach and lecturer at the University of Cincinnati. Undergraduate business degrees teach you how business works and how to be a lifelong learner, making you flexible enough to go into any organization or corporate environment and adapt to it. The technology you learn in school “may not exist in 40 years,” Ibrahim says, but the ability to learn new things quickly will be valuable for your entire career.
- Communication and interpersonal skills: “Good business schools combine the technical and the humanistic,” Ibrahim-Taney says. Through your coursework, you learned just not what needs to be done, but how to work well with other people. You also learned the best ways to communicate verbally and in writing as well as how to give presentations on a variety of topics.
- Analytical skills: Whether you’re analyzing businesses or investments, writing case studies, or creating business plans, you can apply what you learned in school about how to evaluate a lot of information (both quantitative and qualitative) and use it to draw conclusions and solve problems.
Here are nine jobs to consider if you majored in business—that don’t require an MBA to get started.
Average salary: $54,146
Job growth outlook (from 2021-2031): 6%
Accountants aren’t just the people who do your taxes. They can also prepare, analyze, and maintain financial records for businesses or individuals; advise businesses on cost reductions or other financial decisions; and manage money going in and out of a company.
Where you’d work: Accountants can work for an accounting firm that has outside clients (either individuals or organizations) or in-house at any type of organization in any industry.
What might make you a good fit: Accountants have to have knowledge of financial and accounting practices, a strong eye for detail, problem-solving abilities, and a knack for communicating complex financial topics to a range of audiences—all skills common for business majors.
How to get the job: Accountants don’t need a certification to get started, but applicants who have one, or are working toward one, have a better chance of being hired. The most common is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, but there are others depending on the type of accounting you’d like to pursue.
2. Financial analyst
Average salary: $64,797
Financial analysts provide guidance to businesses and individuals on investment and budget decisions; analyze the performance of investments or different parts of a company; and evaluate financial data.
Where you’d work: Financial analysts often work for financial institutions like banks and investment firms to evaluate outside companies, individuals, or investments. Or you might become a corporate financial analyst and work in-house to analyze the finances of a single company. “Every company from Fortune 100 to small businesses offers career opportunities,” Mironko says.
What might make you a good fit: Financial analysts must have strong analytical and communication skills and be able to learn a lot about new things in a short amount of time. Particularly if you’re working for a financial institution, you need to be willing to put in long hours in a role that’s often high-stress—though the salary payoff may be worth it depending on your priorities.
How to get the job: Many business majors across specialties can excel as financial analysts, but graduating with a finance focus will help you land more competitive positions. It also helps to pursue internships during college at the kind of organization you’d like to work for.
Find financial analyst and other finance jobs on The Muse
3. Insurance underwriters
Average salary: $61,236
Job growth outlook: -4%
Every business and building you come across has to be insured, Ibrahim-Taney says. And before that can happen, an insurance underwriter needs to evaluate the business or building (or vehicle or even person) to determine the risks involved with issuing an insurance policy and whether their company should move forward. From there, underwriters might calculate the appropriate amount to insure an entity for and the appropriate premium to charge.
Depending on the size of the company underwriters work for, they might also need to communicate with insurance agents or prospective and current customers. Though the number of jobs in this field is dropping due to automated programs, Ibrahim-Taney says that many of the workers currently in the field are older and there’s a need for fresh grads and other early-career candidates.
Where you’d work: Underwriters work for insurance providers, brokerages, and agencies of all sizes as well as some credit providers.
What might make you a good fit: Underwriters need analytical and decision-making skills, financial and business knowledge, and communication and interpersonal skills—making this a great job for business majors.
How to get the job: You’ll need to get certified as an underwriter to move up in your career, but to get started, you just need a bachelor’s degree. If you’re looking to work for a large insurance company, you might look for roles with risk management in the title as well as underwriter positions, Ibrahim-Taney says.
Find insurance underwriter and risk management jobs on The Muse
4. Human resources specialist
Average salary: $54,852
Like the name implies, human resource specialists work with the human aspect of a business. Depending on where they work and the size of the HR team or people department, HR specialists might handle recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding new employees; arranging, managing, and presenting benefits for new and existing employees; mediating or settling employee conflicts or misconduct; and/or facilitating training, learning, and development for staff.
Where you’d work: Every business and organization in every industry needs some sort of HR. There are also some companies that specialize in providing human resources to other companies without dedicated HR staff in-house.
What might make you a good fit: HR specialists need strong communication and interpersonal skills, analysis and presentation abilities, and a familiarity with best practices for businesses and compliance requirements, making it a good choice for business majors who enjoy interacting with people.
How to get the job: Some, though not all, organizations will require or prefer candidates with a certification from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) or the HR Certification Institute (HRCI). As an entry-level candidate you might look for HR assistant positions before moving up to a specialist role.
Find human resources specialist and other human resources jobs on The Muse
5. Account executive, sales
Average salary: $60,252
Job growth outlook (except for advertising, insurance, financial services, and travel): 7%
Account executives bring in new business and are also known as salespeople, sales representatives, sales agents, and sales engineers, depending on the employer and industry. Depending on the organization, account executives might be in charge of prospecting new customers, identifying the needs of current and existing clients, explaining how their company’s products or services work, negotiating and closing deals, and upselling and re-signing existing customers.
Beyond just base salary, account executives often take home significant commissions and bonuses, meaning there are many high-paying sales roles to work your way into.
Where you’d work: Account executives can work at virtually any company with a product or service to sell.
What might make you a good fit: Account executives need qualities many business majors have: strong communication and interpersonal skills and the ability to learn a lot about a new product or market. They need to know how to construct an argument about why someone should spend money on something.
How to get the job: Depending on the role or company, they may require a bachelor’s degree for account executives. Entry-level candidates might look for a sales or business development representative role to get started.
Find account executive and other sales jobs on The Muse
6. Marketing manager
Average salary: $70,182
Marketing managers plan and execute promotional campaigns for a company, its products, and/or its services. They also conduct market research and analyze ongoing and past campaigns. Marketing managers may be generalists or they might be specialists who focus on one area of marketing such as social media, email, search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing (SEM), e-commerce, or events. Depending on the seniority of the role and the size of the company they work for and its marketing budget, marketing managers might also oversee a team of marketers.
Where you’d work: Marketing managers can work in any industry for almost any type of organization or company—or they can work for a marketing agency where they might manage the needs of a portfolio of clients.
What might make you a good fit: If you’re someone with a business degree who wants a creative career, you can excel in these roles using your strong communication, presentation, and analytical skills as well as their ability to learn quickly and adapt.
How to get the job: Before becoming a marketing manager, entry-level candidates should look for entry-level marketing coordinator, assistant, or analyst positions.
Find marketing manager and other marketing jobs on The Muse
7. Project manager
Average salary: $73,495
Project managers plan, organize, coordinate, and oversee the completion of initiatives at almost every type of company. They also need to track the progress of multiple people, adjust as needed to hit goals and deadlines, analyze results, and allocate and manage budgets.
What might make you a good fit: Project managers need to be able to communicate with and coordinate cross-functional teams while keeping stakeholders informed, so you’ll want strong interpersonal and communication skills. For project managers at tech companies, specifically, some knowledge of software development is also useful, making this a good job if you have an interest in tech (for example, through an information systems concentration) and/or some coding chops, Ibrahim-Taney says.
How to get the job: There’s no one way to become a project manager. PMs might start their careers as project coordinators or assistants or as business analysts or consultants, or they might start in another role within an industry where they’d like to eventually oversee projects such as a software engineering or IT help desk role. Some companies will also prefer or recommend candidates with project management certifications.
8. Business analyst
Average salary: $65,628
Job growth outlook: 11%
Business analysts evaluate and analyze an organization’s practices, processes, opportunities, and related data to make recommendations to improve performance, efficiencies, or profit.
Where you’d work: Business analysts can work in-house at almost any type of company in any industry or they might work for dedicated consulting firms that advise other companies on their operations.
What might make you a good fit: The role of a business analyst varies greatly depending on industry and company needs. But most will need research and analysis skills; the ability to learn about new technologies, markets, and companies; and the ability to communicate with people in a number of different roles.
How to get the job: Business majors can get a job as an entry-level or junior business analyst with an undergrad degree. As business analysts move up in their careers, they might choose to specialize in a specific area like IT or data.
9. Management consultant
Average salary: $92,320
Job growth outlook: 11%
Management consultants make recommendations to client companies and organizations to help them solve problems or run their businesses more effectively. Management consultants gather information about a business’ finances, employees, customers, processes, and products; evaluate and analyze their findings; come up with solutions; and communicate them to clients.
Where you’d work: Management consultants—especially those early in their career—typically work for consulting firms who get hired by other businesses.
What might make you a good fit: If you have strong communication skills, and you’re looking for large financial rewards, consulting might be for you. But the hours can be long and entry-level roles at top firms can be highly competitive, Mironko says, so you need to be prepared for the trade off.
How to get the job: Business majors can become associate consultants or analysts right out of school through highly structured recruiting processes that many consultancies hold right on college campuses.