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What is Business Administration?

Business administration is a field of study in the social sciences that is perfect for students who are interested in combining skills in critical thinking, analysis, and management throughout their careers. While business administration mostly prepares students to enter the workforce as employees for corporations and private businesses, the skills that students learn in the field are very transferable to every type of organization, making business administration graduates great candidates for government and non-profit administration roles as well. Additionally, the field of business administration is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of personal interests, allowing students to jump between many departments ranging from operations, finance, human resources, logistics, and marketing throughout their career if they so choose. The field also accommodates many different personalities as well, with more outgoing students tending to work in client-facing roles like retail manager, sales manager, and human relations manager. More analytically minded students can take on roles in research or data analytics departments at a firm. Eventually, students with leadership potential can advance through the organization and take on more managerial and decision-making roles, regardless of the department they began their careers in. As such, students who choose to pursue a career in business administration have a variety of post-graduation roles spanning almost every industry at their fingertips, making this major one of the most versatile fields of study.

Building a career in Alaska is a great way for students with an interest in leading teams and managing workflows to make use of their versatile degree in business administration. Many accredited colleges and universities in Alaska offer multiple educational options in business administration, both in terms of the format of study and specific majors. Schools like the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, which offers the top-ranked business program in the state, also have options for online bachelor’s and master’s programs to ensure that students can undertake the best educational pathway to suit their needs. In Alaska, the most popular major in the field is the general degree in business administration, which affords students a solid foundation and understanding of business practices to begin their careers. However, Alaska’s business administration programs stand out for their unique offerings that are tailored toward regional needs, which include programs focused on training administrative assistants, accounting technicians, and small business managers. Given the work landscape in the state, where students are more likely to work for a local small business after graduating, it’s clear that local schools are also keen on supporting these types of career pathways.

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Business Administration Education in Alaska

A business administrator’s job can vary depending on the particular industry and role that they are working in, but key core elements that remain the same between roles include helping an organization grow productively. Almost every industry will hire students trained in business administration, though students who wish to work in certain capacities, like in an investment role, may need to pursue specific concentrations like finance while they are still in school. Most students in the field of business administration can expect to be employed by a private firm, with many choosing to recruit for large corporations. Important skills that every business administrator, particularly at the mid-level or senior management level, should possess include strong communication and organizational skills, as well as the ability to manage and lead a team. Daily tasks will include responding to email requests from both within one’s team and organization, as well as outside vendors and partners. Weekly tasks could include work meetings with internal teams and clients, as well as leveraging Word, Excel, and other Microsoft Suite software to analyze workflow data and produce written business reports. Some positions, including those in business consulting, real estate development, and upper-level management, may also include business travel.

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Associate Degree in Business Administration (AS)

The minimum required education level for an entry-level position in the field of business administration is usually an associate degree in a business-related concentration like general management, human resources, or finance. Typically, candidates with their associate degree will be eligible for positions like business support representative, business development coordinator, administrative assistant, and human resources assistant. It’s important to note that some entry-level positions, like becoming a business analyst or research analyst, may require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree, though workers with only an associate degree in business administration can generally accumulate work experience in the field and work their way up to more senior job titles. Many employees with only an associate degree can even work their way up to becoming managers at their workplace over time. According to Payscale, the average worker with an associate degree in business administration will earn around $51,155 a year, quite a strong return on educational investment.

Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration (BS)

Job candidates who have completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration or another business-related concentration will have the best chance of jumpstarting a long and illustrious career in the field. Most larger employers will prefer to interview and hire employees with a bachelor’s degree, which ensures that they have been trained in many core competencies related to business practices. Higher paying entry-level positions like business consultant, management consultant, financial analyst, investment analyst, marketing analyst, and loan officer - positions that require more analytical training and specialization - will typically look for candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree. Students who are looking to complete their studies at a four-year university may wish to pursue specific business concentrations like finance or accounting rather than only completing a general bachelor’s degree in business administration or business management if they are aiming to begin their career in more technical business roles. According to Payscale, a student with a bachelor’s degree in business administration can expect to earn an average annual salary of $65,609, while Ziprecruiter states that top earners can net a salary of more than $100,000.

Master's Degree in Business Administration (MS or MC)

Completing a master’s degree in business administration or another business-related field can help candidates stand out in the competitive modern job market. A master’s degree is generally not a prerequisite for applying to entry-level positions but can be a requirement for applying to some managerial positions. Often, employees can work their way up internally through an organization to achieve those same managerial positions but completing a master’s degree can accelerate a worker’s path to promotion by several years. Once a student starts pursuing a master’s degree in business, they will typically have a clearer idea of their particular interests in the business field and pursue further education accordingly. For example, a candidate looking to advance to managerial positions in corporate finance or banking position may look to pursue a master’s degree in finance or an MBA with a finance concentration, while someone who is looking to become an HR manager would look to pursue a master’s degree in human resources administration. A general MBA degree is also very versatile and can allow early-career individuals to quickly achieve managerial positions at leading firms. According to Payscale, the average MBA holder will earn around $89,906 per year, though some positions, like finance manager and marketing manager can yield a six-figure salary.

PhD Degree in Business Administration (PhD)

Very few business-related positions will require candidates to apply with a Ph.D. in hand, except for a few extremely technical departments. Some examples would be highly quantitative investment research positions, and even then, firms may prefer candidates with a doctorate in mathematics or computer science, which would focus more on the coding and numeral aspects of the job, rather than a doctorate in business administration or management. Typically, students with a doctorate in business administration will look to work in academia as professors, teaching business-focused college students and researching in their field of interest, which spans most of the popular business functions like finance, marketing, human resources, and accounting. Some candidates with a doctorate in business administration will work as external consultants to large firms, providing much-needed academic expertise to help companies improve their operations. According to Payscale, candidates with a doctorate in business administration or a related field can expect to earn an average of $102,319 per year, which is by far the highest of the different educational degree levels. However, the time invested in post-secondary education is also quite long and students need to decide if it makes sense for them to achieve this degree level.

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Become a Business Administrator in Alaska

Students who have completed their business administration degree or studies in a related business field can often transition easily to building a business career in Alaska. Others who majored in fields like economics and mathematics may also find it possible to transition into a business career post-graduation, though business administration remains the most versatile degree option. Students who have a clear picture of which role and industry they wish to work in post-graduation can get a jumpstart over other candidates who may take more time to explore their options or pursue more of a generalist business administration approach. For instance, a student who wishes to become a marketing specialist at a digital media firm may choose to both major in marketing management and pursue internships with a technology or media firms throughout college, which would put them in an advantageous position when seeking full-time employment after graduation. Employers will typically prefer candidates with some related job experience in the field, though networking with school alumni who work in one’s dream industry or company can be helpful.

Students looking to enter business fields that are highly regulated and require more related education, like finance and accounting, may wish to major in that specific concentration before applying to positions in the field. This would signal to employers that the candidate is well-prepared for the rigors of the job. Additionally, for fields like accounting, students may also seek to complete certifications like the CFA or CPA to be competitive for the highest-ranking firms in the industry, which also will tend to have the best pay. Additionally, students looking to build a career in Alaska should be careful to research the different firms, non-profits, and government branches that have offices in the state to get an idea of the different organizations that may be hiring when they graduate. Compared to some larger states, Alaska is more remote, meaning that some firms may not have satellite offices in the state, which means that students may have better chances of being recruited by local businesses.

On the bright side, business is a field with flexible career options so even if a student discovers that the pathway they have chosen is not the correct one for themselves, they will most likely have opportunities to pivot on the job or return to school for retraining. Candidates can speak with managers to see if there is an opportunity at another department in the firm that they are interested in rotating into, which can allow them to begin gaining job experience in a new role.

Top College Programs in Alaska for Business Administration

Business administration is a very popular degree, so it is offered by most major post-secondary institutions in Alaska. In comparison with the states in the lower 48, however, Alaska has fewer educational institutions in general, so students need to consider both the rigor of their business administration program and the school’s location when deciding where to attend school. Below is an introduction to several top-ranking business administration programs offered in the state of Alaska.

  • University of Alaska Fairbanks:
    The University of Alaska at Fairbanks is an important institution that is part of the state’s public university system. In 2019, 112 students graduated from this medium-sized university located in Fairbanks, Alaska with general business administration and management degrees. The school also offers regionally appropriate certificates like accounting technology/technician and bookkeeping and administrative assistant and secretarial science.
  • University of Alaska Southeast:
    The University of Alaska Southeast is a small public university located in Juneau, Alaska. In 2019, 54 students graduated with general business administration and management degrees, which is the institution’s most popular business degree. Besides that, the university also offers certificates in accounting technology/technician and bookkeeping, banking and financial support services, and small business administration/management.
  • University of Alaska Anchorage:
    The University of Alaska at Anchorage is a large four-year university that graduated 103 students with general business administration and management degrees in 2019. The university also offers a large number of other business-related certificates, associate degree programs, and bachelor’s degrees, including accounting, business operations support and secretarial services, economics, finance, marketing, and logistics, materials, and supply chain management.
  • Alaska Pacific University:
    Alaska Pacific University is located in Anchorage, Alaska. In 2019, the school had 46 graduates studying business-related programs. Besides the general degree in business administration and management, the school’s most popular business degree, Alaska Pacific University also offers programs in accounting, finance, information resource management, and organizational leadership.

Careers for Business Administration Graduates

  • Chief Marketing Manager:
    The chief marketing manager, oftentimes known as the chief marketing officer (CMO), is the individual at a firm responsible for making final decisions on the planning and execution of an organization’s advertising initiatives. The CMO will oversee teams working on a variety of marketing and advertising campaigns and help set the trajectory for important brand management decisions.
  • Digital Marketing Manager/Director:
    Nowadays, most businesses large and small will seek to have a digital footprint so that customers can find their products and offerings online. The digital marketing manager or director is in charge of helping to identify new online trends, particularly pertaining to social media, and to help guide the company’s online brand and product delivery.
  • Product Manager:
    Most firms will offer several different products and services, each with their own teams of specialists supporting the development and delivery of said product. Product managers are thus assigned to a particular product, tracking, and supporting it through the entire product lifecycle. Important tasks include product planning, defining the product vision, working with engineering to ensure the product meets customer expectations, marketing the product, and delivering to the end consumer.
  • Project Manager:
    Project managers are often assigned to a team with responsibilities to oversee projects to ensure they are completed within budget constraints and delivered on time. They can help support other higher-ranking managers by helping to designate resources, monitor progress, inform stakeholders, and track budgets.

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  • Supply Chain Manager:
    Companies that deliver physical goods rely on a well-functioning supply chain to ensure that products transfer from manufacturers to the end consumer. Supply chain managers are thus responsible for keeping track of a company’s logistics strategy and operation to ensure that vendors and distributors work together efficiently.
  • Non-Profit Director:
    Non-profit organizations also require a clear strategy and direction to deploy funds toward completing their mission. A non-profit director is someone who works with key stakeholders, including internal teams and external donors, to communicate the organization’s goals and needs and ensure that operations run smoothly.
  • Public Services/Works Director:
    A public service/works director is someone who is in charge of helping to maintain a city or township’s public infrastructure. These tasks can include sewer maintenance, street maintenance, storm and sanitary operations, and emergency response for snow and ice, crucial elements to keeping a city running smoothly.

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