This contributed post is for informational purposes only. Please consult a business, financial and legal professional before making any decisions. We may earn money or products from the affiliate links in this post.
When it comes to investing in education, it’s understandable to want to know if your investment is going to pay off. For some people, that’s very literal—what kind of income can I expect after I graduate?
When it comes to business degrees, there’s more than one answer to that question, which can depend very heavily on what you’ve chosen as your concentration and what level of degree you intend to aim for. Let’s look at some common business degree concentrations and what kind of careers are available and what income you might be able to expect after earning your degree.
Introduction To A Business Degree
Business degrees are overall one of the most popular degrees in America today. Some of the common concentrations offered in business degree programs are accounting, finance, management, marketing and advertising. Other concentrations do exist, but their relative rarity makes it harder to pin down the numbers. IT, for example, can be a business concentration, but is more frequently offered as a stand-alone degree. These kinds of careers can often be quite lucrative as well, but to give a more accurate idea of what a business degree can do, the focus here will be limited to the most common concentrations.
A business degree with a focus in accounting can prepare you for a career as an accountant, most obviously. Accountants typically make about $70,500 a year, based on the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. After graduating, you could also choose to pursue a license and become a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA.
The Association of International Certified Professional Accountants (AICPA) reports that CPAs in the US have an average income of $122,000 per year, as of 2019, so obtaining that licensure after graduation can certainly pay off in a big way, and a bachelor’s degree (plus a few more classes) is required before the licensure process can even begin. Accountants working for corporations can also look into the possibility of promotion, taking on more responsibilities and leadership in exchange for a bigger paycheck.
With a focus on finance, a business degree could help you land a job as a financial analyst, which the BLS reports as making $85,660 annually. Financial analysts help their clients find the best investment opportunities for their situation, attempting to determine acceptable levels of risk. You could, from there, move on to working as a financial manager, leading a team and performing analysis of the financial data of a company.
As is often the case, that increased responsibility comes with a bump in pay, and so the BLS reports that financial managers pull in an average of $127,990 per year. Alternatively, a career as a personal finance advisor puts you more directly in touch with clients, managing their investments on their behalf. Personal finance advisors are reported to make about $88,890 each year, although earning a master’s degree or receiving certification can help to increase salary.
An education in marketing and advertising is often just the start, and the field often weighs success in the workplace heavily. While a business degree is typically necessary to get started, you’ll have to truly stand out in this competitive role. Market research analysts are one place where a fresh face might get their start, gathering and analyzing consumer data that helps companies determine what they should focus their efforts on marketing, and to whom.
According to BLS, the median annual salary for market research analysts is $63,120, a bit lower than some others on this list, but still well above the national average. Once you’ve acquired some experience in the fields of marketing or advertising, you might be able to secure a position as a marketing manager or advertising manager, leading teams that help to develop marketing strategies or entire promotional campaigns in support of a company’s product.
Advertising managers have a median income of $117,130, while marketing managers are reported as making $134,290 each year, according to the BLS.
As you may have picked up from the pattern so far, management is where much of the big money lies. Business management careers tend to be highly lucrative, since the managers often carry the success or failure of entire projects or departments on their backs.
While some management positions may prefer a dedicated degree in the area they’re managing, a general degree in management can still land some high-paying positions, such as sales managers. Sales managers lead sales teams, establish strategies for the sales representatives working under them, and analyze the statistics and data metrics from their team.
They can lead sales to other businesses or directly to consumers. With a median annual salary of $124,220, sales managers can be quite well compensated. Work as a general manager or operations manager is also an option, handling the day-to-day needs of running a business location.
General managers have a median annual salary of $100,930, according to BLS. The real prize when it comes to high earnings is a position as a chief executive, such as CEO or CFO. Having worked your way to the top, you’ll be rewarded with wages of $189,600 on average, with a high likelihood of other non-wage benefits, such as stock options.
Business Degrees: Conclusion
For those who are looking for a high income as a result of their degree, there are few better options than a business degree. With dozens of job titles paying wages far greater than the national average, a business degree can pay for itself in just a few years.
This only compounds as your career progresses, with many of the higher-level positions paying six-figure incomes. Business truly is the field where your income potential is limited only by your ambition—but only if you’ve put in the time and effort to educate yourself first.