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Business Administration Education and Career Guide
What Is a Business Administrator?
Business administrators oversee the general day-to-day operations of an organization or one of its departments. Because they're needed in almost every industry, you can choose both a business administration career path and the kind of business you'd like to work for.
You'll need at least an associate degree, one of three degrees in business administration, to pursue a career in the field. The two-year business admin degree will qualify you for entry-level positions such as sales support specialist, human resources assistant, or office manager.
These roles can help you get a feel for working in business administration, but you won't have as many opportunities to advance as you would with a bachelor's degree. People who've earned a bachelor's degree in business administration will be prepared for a wide range of management and administrative roles and will have more opportunities for promotion.
People who've earned a bachelor's degree in business administration will be prepared for a wide range of management and administrative roles and will have more opportunities to advance.
What Do Business Administrators Do?
Depending on their role in an organization, business administrators can take on many tasks:
Establish and carry out departmental or organizational goals, policies, and procedures
Direct and oversee an organization's financial and budgetary activities
Manage general activities related to making products and providing services
Innovate by applying new technologies in the workplace
Consult with executives, staff, and board members about operations
Negotiate or approve contracts and agreements
Appoint and oversee department heads and managers
Analyze financial statements, sales reports, and other performance indicators
Identify places to cut costs and improve performance, policies, and programs
"Business administration touches everything," says Ralph Griffith, BA, MBA, DBA, associate professor of entrepreneurship at Lenoir-Rhyne University. "Every single product in the world has got some business connected to it, and the people who run those businesses are administrators."
Common Careers and Workplaces for Business Administrators
Companies in every industry need business administrators. You'll find business administration professionals everywhere, from large corporations to small nonprofits and in industries as diverse as healthcare, construction, and store chains. So, if you're interested in a business administration degree but can't see yourself working in a bank, accounting firm, or corporate office, you have options.
What they do: Data analysts collect, analyze, and interpret data about customers and sales to help businesses make decisions.
Skills and traits to succeed: Organization, communication, analytics, and time management
- Financial companies
- Insurance companies
- Government agencies
- Scientific and technical services
- Healthcare services
What they do: Business managers oversee the daily operations of a business and ensure that all financial, logistical, customer service, staffing, and production goals are met. They also respond to any problems that come up during the workday.
Skills and traits to succeed: Communication, leadership, conflict resolution, organization, and teamwork
- Small businesses
- Physician offices
- Chain store branch offices
- Departments within a large corporation
- Educational services
Health Services Administrator
What they do: Health services administrators are responsible for ensuring that their healthcare organization is operating safely and efficiently. They create policies, manage budgets, respond to problems, and oversee daily operations.
Skills and traits to succeed: Leadership, communication, organization, time management, conflict resolution, and teamwork
- Hospital departments
- Outpatient clinics
- Skilled nursing facilities
- Surgery centers
Human Resources Specialist
What they do: Human resources specialists recruit, interview, and hire candidates for roles at their companies. They're also in charge of resolving employ-related issues and making sure all payroll, health, tax, and benefits paperwork are correctly filled out.
Skills and traits to succeed: Communication, conflict resolution, listening, creative thinking, and emotional intelligence
- Employment services
- Professional, technical, and scientific services
- Education and training
Market Research Analyst
What they do: Market research analysts look at trends in sales, internet searches, social media topics, and more to help companies make decisions about product development, design, and launches.
Skills and traits to succeed: Creative thinking, analytics, organization, communication, and time management
- Computer system design firms
- Management, scientific, and technical consulting
- Insurance companies
- Advertising and public relations
What they do: Sales managers lead sales teams. They hire and train team members, set sales goals, create sales plans and campaigns, and find ways to improve team performance.
Skills and traits to succeed: Leadership, communication, emotional intelligence, creative thinking, and teamwork
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Medical device companies
- Wholesale electronic markets
- Computer software firms
- Financial services
What they do: Business analysts collect and analyze data about a business's budget, sales, and overall performance. They recommend improvements based on their findings.
Skills and traits to succeed: Organization, analytics, time management, communication, and problem-solving
- Tech companies
- Management consulting firms
- Marketing firms
What they do: Logistics managers oversee operations of supply and product warehouses. They're responsible for knowing the inventory in their warehouse at all times, contracting and negotiating prices with shipping companies, arranging schedules for incoming shipments and outgoing deliveries, and handling all communications with suppliers and customers.
Skills and traits to succeed: Organization, time management, creative thinking, problem-solving, and analytics
- Automotive companies
- Grocery store chains
- Consumer goods
- Transportation companies
You'll find business administration professionals everywhere, from large corporations to small nonprofits and in industries as diverse as healthcare, construction, and chain stores.
"It's kind of wide open," says Griffith. "Business administrations could be business owners. They can manage a small business. They can be an entrepreneur. They can run a Fortune 500 company. They could do anything else inside that Fortune 500 company."
How to Advance Your Career
There are a few ways to advance your career in business administration. One is to gain experience in your field. However, you don't have to wait until you've been a professional for years to move ahead.
There are other ways you can stand out, win promotions, and boost your salary:
Earn a Certification
Certifications are a great way to demonstrate you have skills and expertise in a specific area of business administration, and they can help you land advanced roles. Certifications are available in marketing, business analysis, supply chain management, and other specialties.
Earn Your Master of Business Administration (MBA)
An MBA can take your career to the next level. In many cases, it's a must. If you're interested in taking on leadership, executive, or director roles, you'll likely need an MBA.
Earn a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA)
A doctorate can help you move into the highest roles at a company or leadership at a national level. It can also lead to a career in teaching at the college level and research.
Learn a New Language
Being able to communicate with overseas business contacts is a valuable asset that can boost your career and lead to international opportunities.
Maintain High-Level Technical Skills
Technical skills are in demand in the business world. It could be a significant asset and drive your career prospects if you can work with information technology, computer coding, artificial intelligence, data systems, or computer-based programming.
With education, professional certifications, and great communication and teamwork skills, there could be opportunities to advance to leadership roles without decades of experience.