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What is Business Administration?

A business administrator does what the title describes; they are managers of business. All industries need managers, so regardless of what kind of business interests you, there will be a need for business administrators. Administrators handle all aspects of a business, from human resources to the maintenance department. Office supplies are handled by someone in the supply department, training is handled by a training manager, and each department charged with fulfilling the business’ mission has managers that run them.

There are levels of management, from shift supervisors up to and including senior managers, such as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer. In a more traditional setting, an administrator needs general business experience, while administrators in specialized industries will need a combination of business savvy and expertise in the specialization of the business. It’s important that a person know what experience and knowledge is required for administrators in their chosen profession and that they plan their education and work experience to match those needs.

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Business Administration Education in Illinois

Whether a person wants to work in real estate, the farming industry, or become an accountant, there will always be a need for administrators and managers. These people make sure that a business is running smoothly, has everything it needs to succeed, and keeps their employees happy and working. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there will be an increasing need for managers over the next decade. And this is across industries. If you are working in your chosen industry but want to eventually work your way into a management position, gaining the required education as well as pertinent work experience is a good idea. The amount and kind of education needed will vary by industry. For example, those who want to manage a real estate office will need a background in both business and real estate, while someone who wants to run an accounting firm needs to have a background in accounting as well as licenses in accounting. If you are interested in someday having a management position, there is pertinent advice and guidelines on how to require the education and experience necessary to accomplish this below.

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Although it’s possible to make it into management without a formal education, having a degree or two in your chosen career can’t hurt. Many companies insist that their senior management team have a decent amount of education to go with their experience. Unfortunately, the day of working your way up from the mailroom to the boardroom are pretty much gone. You’ll need experience and an education to move through the ranks to middle and senior management.

Associate Degree in Business Administration (ABA)

A two-year degree in business administration can land a person an entry-level position in many companies. In the retail field, it could even lead to a management position. In an associate program students receive a basic education in business.

Students can expect to take base business courses such as:

  • Accounting I & II
  • Business Ethics
  • Business Law
  • Computerized Accounting
  • Intro to Management
  • Intro to Marketing
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Payroll Accounting

Students will also take general education and electives and required course that count toward the two-year degree and will transfer if a student opts to continue their education.

An associate degree usually consists of around 60 credit hours and takes students around two years to complete if they attend full-time. Those students who complete an associate degree and choose to enter a bachelor’s program will have saved a significant amount in completing the equivalent of the first two years of a bachelor’s degree in a community college program.

Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration (BBA)

Most people who get a four-year degree in business administration have a specialization. These are additional courses taken on top of the general business administration core curriculum, which includes classes in accounting, management and marketing.

For example, someone who wants to go into real estate management might take the usual accounting courses such as:

  • Accounting I & II
  • Business Ethics
  • Business Law
  • Intro to Management
  • Intro to Marketing
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics

But these students may also take real estate classes such as:

  • Managerial Accounting
  • Public Relations
  • Real Estate Contracts
  • Real Estate Management
  • Real Estate Marketing
  • Selling Real Estate

A bachelor’s degree usually consists of around 120 credit hours and takes full-time students four years to complete. This can be sped up by first completing an associate degree or by taking an accelerated program. With a bachelor’s degree, graduates are prepared for a variety of positions in their specialization. But for those who want to advance past an entry or lower-level supervisory position in most companies, additional education will be required.

Master's Degree in Business Administration (MBA)

A Masters in Business Administration (MBA) is often a requirement for anyone wanting to enter into senior management positions in a company. The start of a career in finance or other areas of business can be achieved with a four-year degree, but managers need additional education to effectively manage people and companies. MBA programs build on what was taught at the undergraduate level but provide additional critical thinking and analytical abilities.

So, in addition to the classes mentioned above, graduate students will take courses such as:

  • Advanced Business Communication
  • Business Analytics
  • Business Statistics
  • Financial Projections
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Quantitative Business Analysis

With an MBA and several years of work experience, a person could be tapped for middle-management positions, and in some cases, upper-level management position could be available to them.

An MBA and other similar graduate degrees usually require around 60 credit hours of coursework to be completed. This means that students may take up to two years to complete the program if they attend full-time, or longer if they only attend part-time. Students who choose to complete a concentration may finish in this time frame or may find that they need slightly longer to finish all the classes required for their concentration.

PhD Degree in Business Administration (DBA)

A doctorate in business administration (DBA) is an option for those who want to set themselves apart as thought leaders and subject matter experts. It’s also a good option for those seeking to become tenured professors for a college or university.

Those who pursue this degree may study the following are as:

  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Ethics
  • Finance
  • Information Systems
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Operational Management
  • Organizational Leadership

However, a doctorate student will often be able to focus their degree on whatever specialization most interests them.

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This degree is not a requirement for most business positions, but it can help someone to become known as an expert in their field. Even so, most of those who complete a doctorate degree do so in order to break into or reach the top echelons of academia.

Become a Business Administration in Illinois

The moment you get a job in a business setting, regardless of the industry, you become a business professional. How you progress from there depends on your ultimate goal. Some people start with a company and decide to try and move up through the ranks of that company, while others decide to work for a company for a period of time and then move on to a new opportunity. Although there was a time when staying with the same company for decades was encouraged, and job hopping was discouraged, times have changed and these concepts are no longer the good/bad they once were.

Whichever path you choose, take every opportunity to learn and gain skills wherever possible. A rule of thumb is to leave a position or company with at least one new skill. This will serve you well as your career progresses. You want to make yourself as attractive to potential employers as possible, so having many skills is an ideal way to do this. You’ll also want to continue your education if that is required for you to reach your ultimate goals.

If you reach management levels, keep in mind that you have to keep the company profitable as well as treating your employees with respect. You could be one of “those” managers but, eventually, their actions catch up with them and their careers can be stifled. Treat those you manage the way you want to be treated and remember what having a bad manager feels like. This will serve you well in the future because valued employees value their managers and are more likely to go that extra step, work those extra hours, and give extra attention and effort for them. Everyone wins in this scenario.

This becomes even more important when you reach senior level of management. A good leader knows how to lead, but they also know how to motivate and encourage all their employees. And if you branch out on your own and start your own company, the skill of handling employees well and being a motivator is even more important.

Careers for Business Administration Graduates

Since every business needs managers, there is no shortage of management positions to choose from. Below is a sample of careers that a person with a business degree can pursue. Many jobs require that a person have experience working in the industry as well as an education in business to move into the management ranks. Also, keep in mind this is far from an exhaustive list since every industry needs people to manage those who do the work.

  • Administrative Coordinator
    An administrative coordinator makes sure all the departments of a business work well with each other. They ensure that all departments have the staff required as well as the materials needed to complete their tasks. They are excellent communicators and often function as the go-between for departments. They also interact with guests, customers, and others. This person needs to be highly organized and good with numbers because budget management is also often required.
  • Maintenance Manager
    The maintenance manager is in charge of ensuring that the business is maintained both from a building and operational standpoint. Maintenance keeps the property as well as the equipment used by employees of the property in working order. There could be several different departments that make up the entire maintenance department such as landscaping, equipment, cleaning, and repairs. The manager is responsible for employment in all departments and keeping track with service orders, equipment orders, and general upkeep. For example, the maintenance department much make sure the property is clear of any hazards in parking lots, sidewalks and entryways, but is also responsible for floors and cleaning any hazards that might occur inside the building as well.
  • Accounting Associate
    An accounting associate is part of an accounting team for either an accounting firm or a business’ accounting department. Depending on the level of the associate, this person might be part of an accounting team, such as accounts receivable or accounts payable, or they might be a full-charge accountant for a client that reports to a CPA. A strong education in accounting and practical experience working with parts of the accounting process is required. In some companies a CPA license might be required but this depends on the tasks assigned and the company’s preferences.

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  • Chief Marketing Manager
    The chief marketing manager is in charge of the marketing department. They oversee all the marketing campaigns that the department launches. They may also create the teams used to execute the marketing plans as well as coordinating marketing functions and events a business is planning. If this person works for a marketing firm, then they are responsible for handling client accounts and overseeing those who have accounts with clients. The manager is often the point person when a new customer comes on board and, after meeting with the client, determines who the best people might be to handle the account. This person might be part of senior management or might report directly to a member of senior management.
  • Non-Profit Director
    A non-profit director is the same as a senior manager at a for-profit business, but they run a non-profit instead. These people have the same managerial duties as other directors, but also have the task of raising funds for the organization. They might write grants for funding or they might work with the community to raise funds; often both are required. Directors hire employees, train them, and make sure they are properly performing their job duties. These people are excellent communicators and often have experience working in sales or marketing. They are also experienced in planning events and reaching out to the community to generate support and help in different ways.

Other careers for business professionals include:

  • Public Services/Works Director
  • Digital Marketing Manager/Director
  • Product Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Supply Chain Manager

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