How to Become a Business Professional in California

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What Business Major are You Interested In?


Business degrees are one of the most sought-after educational achievements in the United States. Unsurprisingly, there are numerous colleges and universities in every state that offer comprehensive academic programs on the subject. As a particularly versatile field, business graduates tend to be well positioned in the job market. While every institution is different, business students can expect to develop a wide range of easily transferrable skills in management, finance, leadership, and marketing. Knowledge in these areas is extremely valuable in nearly every field, making it practical to study business at any academic level.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in business and financial occupations is expected to increase by 5% from 2019 to 2029. This may not seem significant, but it’s faster than the average for all occupations and will add approximately 476,200 new positions in the field. Top factors impacting this increase include globalization, economic growth, use of market research to understand customer demand. Job outlook will vary depending upon area of interest but tends to be comparable with most other professions.

California is home to the largest economy in the United States. Professional and business services are top industries in the state, second only to real estate, rentals, and leasing activities. Accounting for $397.3 billion in revenue each year, business-related employment can be quite lucrative. According to the BLS, business and financial operations occupations accounted for 1,064,160 jobs in 2020. The annual mean wage for business professionals in California was $87,550 that same year, which is significantly higher than the national median.

As a result, there is a strong demand for well trained and competent business professionals in the state. Most companies and organizations benefit from employing individuals who are well versed in business. Colleges and universities accommodate this need by offering a wide variety of related academic programs. Students can enroll in business degrees nearly anywhere in the world, but often profit most from attending an institution near where they intend to work. Deciding to earn a business degree in California ensures you will possess the training, skills, and knowledge coveted most by local employers.


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Business Education in California


Business professional can mean a lot of things, in large part due to how varied the field ultimately is. Those with this designation often have diverse work opportunities and may function within numerous environments. While every job is different, most relate to analyzing and improving operations and performance.

Companies and organizations of all kinds depend on and utilize the expertise of business professionals, making it possible to work in nearly any industry. Graduates who possess the appropriate knowledge and skills can choose from a multitude of careers, but generally choose to pursue work that aligns well with their personal interests and/or passions.

Some of the most prominent career paths for business professionals include:

  • Accounting
  • Business Development
  • Economics
  • Sales
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Global Business
  • Human Resources
  • Operations
  • Management
  • Entrepreneurship

As industry needs vary, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what the daily tasks and responsibilities of business professionals will be. Job descriptions can differ significantly even within the same field, as specific needs will vary depending on company size and employer preference. Academic programs account for this, however, by teaching students skills in various subjects including analytics, leadership, and research. The knowledge gained can then be applied to the chosen setting.

This type of work is usually best suited for individuals who can think critically and enjoy solving problems. The most successful business professionals possess great interpersonal, leadership, communication, and social perceptiveness skills. It’s important to note that, while work in this field can be extremely rewarding, it is also often quite time-consuming and demanding.

Most business professionals require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in order to obtain entry-level employment. Prospective students could, however, choose to enroll in associate degree programs and transfer credits to other higher education institutions later. Graduate opportunities are also available at the master’s and doctoral levels, opening doors to additional occupations and advancement options. In most cases, business professionals earn a bachelor’s degree as well as a master’s degree to be more marketable. Each degree has its own benefits and drawbacks, making it essential to know your academic and career goals prior to enrollment.

Many colleges and universities offer students the option to select concentrations. These help focus study and make it easier to specialize in a particular aspect of business. Identifying one or two primary areas of interest before enrolling may make it easier to select a concentration when the time arrives.

Associate Degree in Business (AB)

Associate degrees in business are designed to provide students with a foundational knowledge of the field. They tend to be most appropriate for individuals who plan to transfer into bachelor’s degree program, although finding entry-level employment after graduation is also possible. Employer expectations vary, but this level of education is generally considered adequate to qualify graduates for employment as administrative assistants, executive assistants, food service managers, bookkeepers, office managers, human resources employees, and office clerks.

Most associate degree programs in business consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. They usually include an overview of finance, human resources management, and customer service.

Those interested in advancing their careers beyond entry-level positions will need to attain more advanced degrees. Fortunately, credits earned from accredited institutions can be transferred to other four-year colleges and universities.

Bachelor's Degree in Business (BSB)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most business and finance occupations require a bachelor’s degree. Graduates have training in most major disciplines in the field and can pursue employment opportunities as financial analysts, human resource specialists, and management consultants. Advanced supervisory positions may become available with experience, on-the-job training, and/or additional education.

Most bachelor degree programs in business consist of 120 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately four years to complete. Curriculums vary, but most focus on marketing, finance, and accounting. Colleges and universities also help students develop broadly applicable skills that can be applied in almost any setting.

For those interested in pursuing higher education, it’s worth noting that most graduate programs require candidates have a bachelor’s degree, as well as a minimum GPA and GRE scores to apply.

Master's Degree in Business (MS or MBS)

Master’s degrees in business are generally necessary for professionals seeking high-level leadership positions within the business field. Obtaining this level of education generally demonstrates expertise in management and leadership, areas of particular value to many potential employers. As a result, master’s graduates are more competitive in the job market and can expect to qualify for positions with more responsibilities and higher pay.

In addition to a master’s degree in business, prospective students may also enroll in a master’s in business administration (MBA) program. Business administration places emphasis on planning and execution. While both options will help graduates qualify for supervisory positions, MBA graduates are more likely to work as training and development managers, top executives, public relations and fundraising managers, human resource managers, information technology managers, financial managers, industrial production managers, and management analysts.

Program lengths vary, but many master’s degrees in business range between 30 to 60 credit hours of coursework. Full-time students generally complete requirements within one to two years.

PhD Degree in Business (PhD)

The highest level of education in business is a doctoral degree. Relatively few professions require a doctorate, however. They are usually best suited for professionals interested in research and independent study. Graduates can choose to continue in research or to work in academia. Doctoral degrees provide access to some of the best employment opportunities in the field, including top executive, postsecondary business professor, postsecondary, education administrator, and economist.

Doctorates in business typically consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours and take full-time students four to seven years to complete. Most require writing dissertations before being considered for graduation.

Another option is a doctorate in business administration (DBA) or management. These degrees enhance students’ theoretical knowledge of business and business management and can lead to upper management and executive positions. Most take six years to complete.

Become a Business Development Specialist in California


The first step in becoming a business professional in California is to determine your ultimate career goals. It’s important to identify your specific aspirations now, as they will likely direct your academic plans. The knowledge and skills learned during a business program can be applied to numerous industries, but narrowing your options will help you find the most appropriate program.

It is, however, okay to remain undecided regarding your preferred industry for the first one or two years of your degree. Topics in business tend to overlap, making it easy to adjust your course if necessary. In fact, many college and university programs are specifically designed to expose students to a variety of career options early in the curriculum.

Keep in mind, though, that you will likely need to identify an area of concentration prior to graduating. Doing so will tailor a portion of the program to a specific subsection or field, allowing you to explore an area of interest on a much deeper level.

Some of the most common options include:

  • Finance
  • Sales
  • Human Resources
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Global Business
  • Entrepreneurship

Once you have obtained the necessary degree(s), you may want or need to pursue one or more certifications and/or licensures. Few careers in business require formal licensure, but earning additional credentials can be extremely beneficial. Certifications often increase marketability, improve job prospects, and result in higher earning potential.

While some employers require specific certifications, most business professionals are free to pursue credentialing opportunities that appeal to their interests or career. Those working in accounting, however, may need to become licensed before practicing. The two most popular options for this area of expertise include certified public accountants (CPAs) and certified management accountants (CPMs).

Additionally, most businesses in California require licenses or permits to operate. Entrepreneurs planning to open their own companies will need choose a business structure, file tax and employer identification documents, and verify which licenses or permits are required via the Department of Consumer Affairs and CalGOLD.

Careers for Business Graduates


After earning a business degree, you will be qualified to apply for a wide variety of positions in Arkansas.

Salaries and daily duties will vary, but some of the most common career options include:

  • Vice President of Operations
  • Operations Manager
  • Business Development Director
  • Human Resources (HR) Specialist
  • Team Leader
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Account Manager
  • Information Technology (IT) Director
  • Marketing Manager
  • Office Manager
  • Data Analyst
  • Financial / Business Analyst
  • Project Manager
  • Supply Chain Specialist / Manager
  • Public Relations Specialist / Manager
  • Content Marketing Specialist / Manager
  • Entrepreneur
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • C-Suite Professional
  • Project Manager
    Project managers are responsible for overseeing various projects for the company or organization that employs them. They often establish project goals and timelines, as well as manage budgets and resources. It’s also their responsibility to dispense important information to other teams involved in the process. Additionally, these professionals must coordinate, document, and assign tasks to others. According to PayScale, project managers make an average base salary of $75,000 per year.
  • Administrative Assistant
    Administrative assistants are responsible for providing administrative support to employees at the company or organization where they are employed. Tasks vary, but may include filing paperwork, sorting files, conducting researching, and completing personal errands for individuals. These professionals often perform a wide variety of secretarial duties such as data entry, billing, inventory, correspondence, and record-keeping. According to PayScale, administrative assistants make an average base hourly rate of $16.25, or approximately $40,100 per year.
  • Marketing Manager
    Marketing managers are responsible for developing advertising or merchandising sales campaigns for the businesses they work for. Depending on the situation, they may be assigned a single product, brand, or an entire company. These professionals must be able to collaborate with product managers, as well as monitor program performance and develop market research studies. According to PayScale, marketing managers make an average base salary of $66,600 per year.
  • Human Resources (HR) Specialist
    Human resources managers are responsible for overseeing their company or organization’s employee policies, procedures, and compliance. They must be familiar with state and federal laws regarding employment and ensure all activities are legal. These professionals also implement and manage employee benefits and initiative programs. According to PayScale, human resources managers make an average base salary of $68,700 per year.
  • Supply Chain Specialist / Manager
    Supply chain managers are responsible for overseeing franchise supply chains for the companies they work for. They develop and maintain logistical and procedural policies, mediating between sales and customer service teams. These professionals also manage inventories based on demand. According to PayScale, supply chain managers make an average base salary of around $84,000 per year.
  • Financial / Business Analyst
    Financial analysts are responsible for studying marketplace trends, demographics, and microeconomic factors as they related to the corporations and businesses that employ them. These professionals have a good understanding of company resource investments and often project how certain investments will impact growth over time. They also provide advice regarding bonds and splitting stock. According to PayScale, financial analysts make an average base salary of $61,939 per year.

Business Degrees & Career Paths


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