Business Careers: 2023 Guide to Career Paths, Options & Salary

Business Careers: 2023 Guide to Career Paths, Options & Salary
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

Business careers offer a plethora of opportunities to those seeking a fulfilling professional life. Pursuing a business degree program can unlock numerous roles such as those in finance, marketing, and entrepreneurship. The business landscape continues to expand, with 840,116 degrees awarded in 2020 alone, predominantly bachelor’s degrees, and a workforce of 11.2 million individuals with an average age of 43.8 years (Data USA, 2020).

Students in business degree programs gain a solid foundation in principles such as economics, accounting, finance, and management, with the chance to specialize in areas such as marketing and international business. The core skills acquired include critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and leadership, which are highly valued by employers.

With the help of our research team in compiling key metrics, we present this article to help you explore various business careers, the degree programs that support them, and the specializations and skills required to build a successful career in this dynamic field.

Business Careers Table of Contents

  1. Why pursue a career in business?
  2. Business Career Outlook
  3. Required Skills for Business Professionals
  4. How to Start Your Career in Business
  5. How can I advance my career in Business?
  6. Alternative Career Options for Business Professionals

Remote work and the gig economy are transforming traditional career trajectories, leading to an increased emphasis on digital and soft skills and work-life balance (Thomas, 2021; Dondi et al., 2021). In this context, businesses require collaboration and creativity to solve complex problems in a boundaryless world (Deloitte, 2023).

However, in developing countries, Khan and Ali (2022) found in their study, “Exploring the Gap Between Expected and Actual Return on Investment of Business Graduates from Employability” published in The International Journal of Management Education, that a “Mismatched graduate to-job ratio, raised school fees, and industry-academia gap have caused uncertainty among business graduates.”

To maximize the return on investment of business graduates, universities need to increase industry-academia linkages, redesign the curriculum to be more industry-driven, and introduce pedagogical reforms toward innovative and technological skill development (Khan & Ali, 2022). Mainga et al., (2022) suggest capturing students’ views on employability and developing a combination of traditional teaching and student-centered learning methods to develop future-ready graduates as technological advances continue to reshape the job market.

Despite the gap, there remains a high demand for business graduates, with 86% employed upon graduation in 2022, up from 80% in 2021. The Asia-Pacific and Europe regions saw significant improvements, with 91% and 90% of graduates reporting employment, respectively (Graduate Management Admission Council, 2022).

Why pursue a career in business?

Is getting a degree in business worth it? Judging by the vast amount of employment opportunities, it definitely is. A career in business is worth pursuing because it brings both personal and professional growth, not to mention the demand for professionals in this field is high and the business career salary is competitive. It is especially worthwhile for those seeking both personal and professional fulfillment. Those pursuing this can expect to have a wide range of roles and responsibilities, including managing finances, developing marketing strategies, analyzing data, and making decisions that impact the success of a company. The flexibility of the business career pathway allows you to pursue your interests while building a successful and fulfilling career in business.

Aside from the tangible benefits of competitive salaries and job security, business-related jobs can also offer personal and social fulfillment. Entrepreneurs, for example, can experience the satisfaction of creating something from scratch and seeing it grow, while those in management positions can lead and inspire their teams to achieve their goals. Additionally, business professionals can have a positive impact on society by creating job opportunities and contributing to economic growth.

In February this year, 311,000 jobs were created in the U.S., much higher than expected. Jobs in business also have a positive outlook, and salaries are just as promising, with a median annual wage of $76,570 in May 2021 (BLS, 2022).

median salary, business professionals

Business Career Outlook

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 7% job growth for business-related jobs from 2021 to 2031, which is approximately 715,100 new jobs in the field. This growth is expected to create around 980,200 job openings per year due to both growth and replacement needs (BLS, 2022).

Besides, the median annual wage for these occupations was $76,570 in May 2021, higher than the median wage for all occupations (BLS, 2022). Payscale seconds this, showing that for those with a bachelor’s degree, the business jobs salary could be at least $38,760 depending on their role (Payscale, 2021a) while those with a master’s degree get at least $56,300 also depending on their role (Payscale, 2021b)

Financial Examiners$81,41021%
Market Research Analysts$63,92019%
Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners$49,47018%
Personal Financial Advisors$94,17015%
Management Analysts$93,00011%
Financial Analysts$95,5709%
Human Resources Specialists$62,2908%
Training and Development Specialists$61,5708%

Required Skills for Business Professionals

While technical skills are the specialized competencies required to perform specific job functions, general skills are the qualities and attributes that enable you to work effectively with others and achieve common goals. As businesses emerge from the pandemic, skills related to remote work have also become vital.

Essential Skills for Business Professionals

  • Financial management – the ability to analyze financial data, create and manage budgets, and make sound financial decisions. Financial management is crucial for business professionals to ensure that their organizations are financially stable and profitable.
  • Marketing and sales – the ability to understand customer behavior, develop marketing strategies, and implement effective sales techniques. Strong marketing and sales skills are vital for business professionals to ensure that their products or services are competitive in the market and generate revenue. In the age of technology, knowledge of digital marketing is now also vital.
  • Data analysis – the ability to analyze data, identify patterns, and make data-driven decisions. Data analysis skills are crucial for business professionals to identify opportunities and make informed decisions that drive business growth. Understanding analytics is the second most sought-after skill in marketing worldwide (SEMRush, 2021)

General Skills for Business Professionals

  • Leadership – the ability to inspire, motivate, and guide teams to achieve common goals. Strong leadership skills are essential for business professionals to create a positive work environment and foster a culture of innovation and collaboration.
  • Communication – the ability to effectively convey ideas, thoughts, and information to various stakeholders. Effective communication skills are vital in building build relationships, negotiating, and resolving conflicts. Writing is particularly the most in-demand marketing skill to date (SEMRush, 2023).
  • Problem-solving – the ability to analyze complex problems, identify solutions, and make informed decisions. Strong problem-solving skills are critical for business professionals to handle various challenges and achieve organizational objectives.

Source: Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy, 2021

How to Start Your Career in Business

Starting business career paths would require an understanding of the academic requirements and the various career paths available in the industry. While a degree in business is not always necessary to enter the field, pursuing an undergraduate degree can significantly increase your job prospects and earning potential. There’s a lot you can do with a business management degree.

What Jobs Can Business Majors Get?

Marketing Management Path
Financial Analysis Path
Human Resources Path
Operations Management Path
The creation, implementation, and overseeing of marketing strategies to promote products or services and meet business objectives.The examination of financial data and trends to evaluate business performance and make informed investment decisions.The management of an organization's workforce including recruitment, compensation, benefits, and compliance with employment laws.The overseeing of production and delivery of goods or services, optimizing processes to ensure efficiency and quality.
Entry Level JobsMarketing Coordinator ($50,163/year)Financial Analyst ($72,077/year)HR Coordinator ($47,287/year)Operations Associate ($53,637/year)
Junior Management JobsMarketing Manager ($73,525/year)Senior Financial Analyst ($91,350/year)HR Manager ($79,228/year)Operations Manager ($76,000/year)
Middle Management JobsDirector of Marketing ($95,364/year)Finance Manager ($103,512/year)Director of HR ($99,425/year)Director of Operations ($95,461/year)
Senior Management JobsChief Marketing Officer ($162,331/year)Chief Financial Officer ($148,754/year)Chief Human Resources Officer ($85,580/year)Chief Operations Officer ($136,722/year)
*Values are estimates. and may vary per industry.

What can I do with an Associate’s Degree in business?

Administrative Assistant

Administrative assistants provide administrative support to business executives, including scheduling appointments, managing correspondence, and performing various clerical tasks. They must be organized and possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

Median salary: $48,519/year

Accounting Clerk

Accounting clerks perform various clerical and administrative duties related to bookkeeping, financial reporting, and tax preparation. Their responsibilities include preparing and maintaining financial records, reviewing and reconciling accounts, and processing invoices.

Median salary: $49,946/year

Sales Representative

Sales representatives are responsible for promoting and selling products or services to potential customers. They must develop and maintain relationships with customers, identify sales opportunities, and negotiate and close deals.

Median salary: $68,157/year

What can I do with a Bachelor’s Degree in business?

Human Resources Specialists

Human resources specialists handle the recruitment, screening, interviewing of job applicants, and the placement of new hires in appropriate positions. They may also handle compensation and benefits, training and development, and employee relations, including conflict resolution.

Median salary: $58,039/year

Financial Analyst

Financial analysts analyze financial data to identify trends, prepare financial reports, and make investment recommendations. They must possess strong analytical and problem-solving skills and be familiar with financial analysis software and tools.

Median salary: $72,077/year

Cost Estimators

Cost estimators analyze data to determine costs for a project, working with various professionals to provide accurate estimates and ensure the project stays within budget. They evaluate bids, negotiate with vendors, and monitor project costs.

Median salary: $76,698/year

Can you get a business job with just a certificate?

Yes. Earning a business certificate can improve your chances of getting hired for certain positions, but not for all types of jobs in business. Entry-level positions often require at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration or other business-related programs like human resource degrees, but it cannot be denied that a certificate helps in your career development plan in business. You gain industry experience, develop specialized skills and knowledge for career advancement, and offer networking opportunities leading to valuable connections or job offers. (Boyles, 2022)

How can I advance my career in business?

To advance into business career paths that pay well, you need to further your education on top of growing your experience. A master’s degree could help you climb higher in the business career ladder, perhaps landing middle-management positions. If you want to reach the top and get a senior-level position, a Ph.D. would be your best bet.

What can I do with a Master’s in business?

Human Resources Manager

Human Resources Managers are responsible for recruiting, hiring, and training employees, as well as managing employee benefits and resolving conflicts. They may also work with upper management to develop HR policies and procedures.

Median salary: $136,590/year

Marketing Manager

Marketing Managers develop and oversee marketing campaigns to promote products and services. They work with sales teams, advertising agencies, and market research firms to identify target markets and create messaging that resonates with consumers.

Median salary: $153,440/year

Financial Manager

Financial Managers are responsible for developing and monitoring financial plans and budgets, overseeing investments, and analyzing market trends. They often work for banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions.

Median salary: $153,460/year

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

What kind of job can I get with a Doctorate in business?

Professor of Business

Professors of Business typically work at universities or other higher education institutions, where they teach courses in business and management. They may also conduct research and publish academic papers and may serve as advisors to students and other faculty members.

Median salary: $79,477/year

Management Consultant

Management Consultants work with organizations to improve their efficiency, profitability, and overall performance. They analyze existing operations, identify areas for improvement, and make recommendations for changes. They may also work with senior executives to develop new business strategies and plans.

Median salary: $100,918/year

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

CEOs are the highest-ranking executives in an organization and are responsible for setting overall strategy, making major corporate decisions, and representing the company to investors and the public. They often work closely with other executives and department heads to ensure the company is meeting its goals.

Median salary: $213,020/year

Which certification is best for business?

The best certification for business depends on your career goals in business. No matter the kind of certificate you get, obtaining a certification in business brings countless opportunities to develop specialized skills and knowledge, which can help advance your career.

Some popular certifications in the field include:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Certified Financial Analyst (CFA)
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
  • Six Sigma Green Belt/Black Belt

Alternatively, you can also consider pursuing generic certifications such as digital marketing or project management certification, which may provide an advantage in the field.

Alternative Career Options for Business Professionals

While the traditional career path for someone with a degree in business may lead to roles like marketing, finance, or operations management, there are many other options available that can use your skills and knowledge. In this section, we’ll explore some business career options for business professionals.

What else can a Business Professional Do?

  • Business Analyst – As a business analyst, your responsibilities would include identifying opportunities to improve business processes, analyzing data to uncover trends and insights, and making recommendations to improve business operations. This role is ideal for business professionals who have strong analytical mindsets and enjoy working with data.
  • Sales Representative – If you enjoy building relationships with clients and have a talent for selling products or services, then a career as a sales representative might be right for you. As a sales representative, you would be responsible for selling products or services to customers, managing relationships with existing clients, and prospecting for new business opportunities.
  • Project Manager – As a project manager, you would be responsible for overseeing the planning, execution, and delivery of projects within an organization. This role is ideal for business professionals who enjoy working with teams and are skilled at managing resources to meet project goals. believes that business professionals have a wide range of skills and knowledge that can be applied to various roles within the industry. Whether you aspire to become a business analyst, sales representative, or project manager, our findings show that getting certified equips you with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in these roles.

The Future Is Bright for Business Careers

Business careers offer diverse opportunities, and pursuing a business degree program can unlock doors to industries such as finance, marketing, and entrepreneurship. A business degree provides a solid foundation in principles such as economics, finance and accounting, and management, with the chance to specialize in marketing and international business. Students develop core skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and leadership, which are highly valued by employers.

Despite the mismatch between the graduate-to-job ratio and the industry-academia gap, there is still a high demand for business graduates, with a positive outlook and a higher median annual wage than that for all occupations. As such, pursuing a career in business can be rewarding both financially and personally, making it an attractive career path for many.


  1. BLS. (2022, September 8). Business and Financial Occupations: Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  2. Boyles. (2022, October 13). What Can You Do with a Business Certificate? 5 Career Paths. Business Insights Blog.
  3. Data USA. (2020). Business | Data USA.
  4. Deloitte. (2023). 2023 Global Human Capital Trends. Deloitte Insights.
  5. Dondi, M., Klier, J., Panier, F., & Schubert, J. (2021, June 25). Defining the skills citizens will need in the future world of work. McKinsey.
  6. Graduate Management Admission Council. (2022, September 14). Business School Students in High Demand: Nearly 9 in 10 Landed Jobs Prior to Graduation. GlobeNewswire News Room.
  7. Khan, F., & Ali, M. (2022). Exploring the Gap Between Expected and Actual Return on Investment of Business Graduates from employability: Evidence from a Developing Country. The International Journal of Management Education, 20(3), 100717.
  8. Mainga, W., Murphy-Braynen, M. B., Moxey, R., & Quddus, S. A. (2022). Graduate Employability of Business Students. Administrative Sciences, 12(3), Article 3.
  9. Payscale. (2021a). Average Salary for People with Bachelor of Business / Business Administration Degrees.
  10. Payscale. (2021b). Average Salary for People with Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degrees.
  11. SEMRush. (2023). [Global Report] Semrush Reveals Content Marketing’s Six Biggest Trends for 2023. SEMRush.
  12. Thomas, P. (2021, March 21). Preparing Students for the Gig Economy. Join Knack.
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Get personalized degree recommendations that will help you find a program that will match your goals and dreams.

The website is funded by advertising. All school search, finder, and match results, as well as featured or trusted partner programs, are for schools who pay us. Our school rankings, resource guides, or any other editorially impartial content on our website are unaffected by the compensation we receive.