How to Become a Business Administrator in California

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What is Business Administration?


If your educational goal is a career in business administration in California, it is a good idea to find your area of specialization as early as possible so you can customize your education to match your long-term plans. Although you’re likely to start your education with an undergraduate degree as your primary educational goal, the sooner you zero in on your career area of interest, the sooner you’ll be able to opt for coursework which will optimize your employment chances as well as your acceptance into a graduate degree program of choice.

Business administrators are charged with the oversight of their employer’s operations, and, in larger corporations, may be in charge of a specific area such as finance, human resource management, or information systems management. They usually work in an office environment and may be charged with budget preparation, support services, personnel hiring, and development of operational goals. As a leadership role they are typically tasked with preparing and presenting their status or progress reports to upper management and ensuring all project goals are progressing as planned.

For example, the top industry in California is real estate and leasing and rental, and California is the number one state in the country in that industry. If the field of real estate is your goal, you might choose to attend a school which offers a specialized track in that field such as the University of San Diego School of Business Master’s degree in real estate. Likewise, the second highest industry in the state is that of professional and business services, which is again first in the nation. You might choose to focus on the needs of Silicon Valley and specialize in global leadership or supply chain management, both of which are offered as a specialization at the graduate level.


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Business Administration Education in California


By narrowing your focus of interest, you’ll also be able to take advantage of internships in your field of choice during your undergraduate years and be in the top tier of choices when it’s time for your first entry-level position in your career field.

If you’re unsure of what area you’d like to specialize in, keep the top California industries in mind as you begin your business administration education so when you do find your niche, you’ll be able to take the coursework prerequisites for your specific industry and meet the requirements for graduate school entry if you later decide to pursue a master’s degree in your business administration area of expertise.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) the top 10 industries in California are:

  • Real estate and rental and leasing
  • Professional and business services
  • Manufacturing
  • Information
  • Educational services, health care, and social assistance
  • Wholesale trade
  • Finance and insurance
  • Retail trade
  • Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, and food services
  • Construction

It’s also important to note that most of these industries also place California first or second in the country in their respective industry.

For example, in California, the biggest industry is real estate sales, rentals, and leasing. A business administrator for a large real estate office may be in charge of the financial aspects of the company cash flow, ensuring the accounts are properly audited and balanced, and specific budget areas such as advertising and marketing have adequate planning and oversight. A different business administrator may be charged specifically with employee oversight, ensuring each department has the proper manpower and training to keep the company running smoothly.

Associate Degree in Business Administration (AS)

Although not the standard for most business administration positions, an associate degree in business administration can be a viable choice for several reasons:

  • You need more flexibility in your studies than a four-year college can offer
  • You’re unsure of the specific area of business you’d like to study
  • Your high school GPA was less than stellar, and a community college will allow you to bring your grade point average up to an acceptable rate
  • You’d like to work in lower administrative positions while you continue your education
  • Your budget requires you to attend a community college for the first stage of your undergraduate studies

If an associate degree is your chosen business administration path, you should choose a program which is transferable to a four-year college or university. It’s also important to note that two of the top ten California business administration job fields, real state and insurance, don’t necessarily require a higher degree for successful employment.

Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration (BS)

A bachelor’s degree in business administration is the entry-level educational norm preferred by most employers. At the bachelor’s degree level, you can expect to take courses which will narrow your career goals and focus your academics on a specific area of interest. For example, at the University of San Diego, you must choose one of a dozen specialization options as your major; using real estate as the example you would learn the legal and ethical principles of residential and commercial real estate as well as valuation, financing, and investment practices. By narrowing your scope of studies, you will have the advantage of expert case studies within the classroom as well as internship opportunities geared toward your career goals.

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

A master’s degree in business administration will allow you to showcase your knowledge base and expertise in the world of business. If you’re still unsure of a specific career course, an MBA might be your best path as it offers a well-rounded curriculum on management and administrative subjects. The advantage of a master’s degree is that it will allow you to focus on a specific area, such as finance, making you an expert in that specific field of administration with specific coursework in finances.

There is no right or wrong choice between the two types of degrees; it’s more a matter of personal goals and the area of business administration you plan to work in.

PhD Degree in Business Administration (PhD)

Business administrators with a PhD only comprise about one percent of those in the career field and, as expected, they are the elite. Those who hold a doctorate in business administration are typically professors, teachers, professional scholars, and senior researchers in both corporations and government positions. If your ultimate goal is to become a teacher or researcher in the field of business administration, you should make a PhD your long-term goal.

You should note there is a PhD in business as well as a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA). Basically, a DBA is work-oriented and requires a minimum number of years working in a higher level of the field, while a PhD is more oriented to research and development.

Become a Business Administrator in California


Your first step in becoming a business administration professional in California should be to choose your school. If your high school grade point average (GPA) is less than stellar, you might opt for a community college; if so, you should ensure the program is transferable to a four-year school. Whether you begin your education in a two or a four-year college, the first two years will be generalized business and core classes, so you won’t have to worry too much about declaring a specialization. By the time you’re ready to enter your third year of school, you should have a more defined plan on what area of business administration you’d like to build your career in.

It's a good idea to tie your choice of specialization to the major industries in California. For example, if you want to tap into the Silicon Valley computer industry, you might opt for a degree specialty in Information systems so that your focus is on the technological management aspect of the industry. Likewise, supply chain management and international business specialties both integrate well in the wholesale trade and manufacturing industries, both of which are in California’s top 10 industries.

By your final year of undergraduate studies, you’ll have the opportunity to intern within the specialty field you’ve chosen. This will allow you a hand-on experience in your chosen career, and you can use this opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of each specialization choice available for your master’s degree in business.

Many students who intern during their final year are offered permanent positions upon graduation, so you should keep this in mind when choosing your internship position. Because business administration graduates are employed in virtually every industry, you should look at the big picture before accepting an internship. If your ultimate goal is to work in a non-profit organization or government role, you should look for an internship that coincides with your long-term plans. It’s also an excellent idea to look at educational opportunities offered by both internship companies and your entry-level employment choices, as many employers will pay for your graduate degree courses in conjunction with an agreement to work for a specific time period.

Careers for Business Administration Graduates


  • Chief Marketing Manager:
    A marketing manager is tasked with locating, developing, and securing a client or company’s potential customer base. They work with other departments to develop a marketing plan and help roll out the plan once developed, introducing modifications and upgrades as needed according to results as indicated in the profit margin projections.
  • Administrative Coordinator:
    As the title indicates, the administrative coordinator is focused on coordination both within and outside the office environment. They may train and supervise others as needed to ensure that projects and tasks are completed within budget and time projections and typically report to the executive level on a weekly and monthly basis.
  • Non-Profit Director:
    A non-profit director is typically charged with oversight of an entire organization, coordinating and directing all operations within. They ensure that business projects are cost-effective and smoothly run from start to finish and are an integral part of the function and success of the business.
  • Financial Analyst:
    A financial analyst collects and analyzes all business data in order to make recommendations to the executive board. They may use financial models to project investment asset performance and are employed in a wide range of businesses from manufacturing to insurance companies.
  • Business Manager:
    Business managers oversee both day-to-day operations as well as long-term plans within a company. They may also be tasked with hiring and training staff, as well as identifying and implementing sales and financial strategies within the business and are found in most industries from banking to government entities.
  • Project Manager:
    A project manager is focused on a specific project within a business, from start to finish. They may supervise resources and team members to facilitate delivery in a timely manner, and typically meet with both team leaders and upper management to ensure deadlines and budget restraints are met. Project managers are employed in every industry from construction to information technology and the position may be a steppingstone to that of chief operating officer (COO).
  • Senior Business Analyst:
    A senior business analyst guides upper management by analyzing strategic information such as business processes, risk areas, and alternative paths in order to improve future business operations and define the strategies in layman’s terms. The senior business analyst reports to both the executives and the shareholders of the company, so it is vital they can report their findings in an easy-to-understand format.
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO):
    A CFO is an executive position charged with oversight of all things financial within a business. They analyze the business’s strengths and weaknesses in order to minimize risks and also track the business cash flow and ensure compliance with all state and federal regulations. This is an upper-level management position in investment firms, banks, non-profits, and manufacturing companies.
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO):
    A COO runs the daily operations within a business on a strategic level in order to implement the company’s long-term business model plans. They coordinate the various divisions within the company and work in virtually every industry from healthcare to finance. The COO is an executive position within the company or corporation.

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