Even as the economy shows signs of recovery, the job market remains fiercely competitive across practically all industries, particularly for entry-level positions. Factor in the rapid-fire rate of technological evolution and its impact on the global marketplace, and it’s clear that today’s college students are wise to invest in versatile degrees that will allow them to innovate and adapt at a pace with modern business. A degree in business management is arguably the most versatile of them all.
Business management, a broad field of study that covers everything from marketing and information systems to leadership and human resources, owes much of its value to that same breadth. Business students acquire knowledge and essential competencies in all foundational areas of modern business, across all industries and their subsectors. The principles of accounting apply no differently to the books of a small, family-run restaurant than those of a large, multinational corporation; information systems function precisely the same way whether they’re located in the basement of a fledgling nonprofit or the front office of a real estate tycoon.
Likewise, the leadership skills that students gain from coursework in business management transcend any specific field or workplace. Most business management degree programs emphasize communication skills, team-building ability, conflict de-escalation and critical thinking skills—all pillars of effective leadership—and prepare students to rise through the ranks of whichever employment sector they choose. Rather than confine themselves to a certain profession or industry, business management students render themselves attractive to employers of all kinds.
Some of the most common professional titles open to business management degree holders exist across industries. Supervisors, shift managers, assistant managers, project managers, directors of operations, directors of finance and so forth are ubiquitous from healthcare to home construction. These skilled professionals manage one or more of the three bedrock components of every successful business: processes, profits and people.
The topics typically covered in a business degree program—business law, operations, production, accounting, sales, marketing, finance, human resources, leadership and information systems—prepare students to manage the “three P’s” of business, while specializations within the major, such as nonprofit management, entrepreneurship, international business, communications or finance can be a significant advantage when seeking employment or advancement.
As they consider degree programs, prospective students should take into account their lifestyles and learning styles. Many top universities now offer online or hybrid degree programs, in addition to traditional campus-bound study. Other factors to consider are the business school’s overall reputation and the program’s academic rigor. Individual preferences, whether for a certain industry (media, education), activity (recruiting, project management) or field of study (accounting, communications) should also be considered, as many business schools specialize in certain areas.
Students with no particular industry or subject area preference, however, should not despair. A good business management degree program will not only expose them to many potential specialties, but also offer universally applicable concentrations, such as human resources and project management. Versatility, after all, is a business management degree’s defining feature.