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What is Business Administration?
A business administrator is a person who performs administrative tasks for their organization. This is a career type that can take many different forms, depending on the specific organization and industry. The image that often comes to mind is a management professional who oversees employees and operations. The administrator is tasked with ensuring that all required duties are completed in a timely manner. They are often needed to oversee inventories, payroll expenses, and more.
However, business administrators can also take many other forms. Business administrators can work in marketing, operations, human resources, supply chain management, consulting, etc. They tend to work in an office environment where they sit at a computer. However, some administrators might work on construction sites, in manufacturing facilities, or even from home. Essentially, the general title refers to a business professional who works in a capacity above that of the support staff. Keep in mind that professionals who hold a business administration degree can work for non-profit, for profit, and government agencies.
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Business Administration Education in Iowa
Iowa has long been thought of as an agrarian state whose major exports included corn and pork products. However, that has been changing over recent years and decades. Iowa's growth as an economic powerhouse is due in no small part to its emphasis on business activities. The top industries in Iowa are manufacturing, finance and insurance, real estate, and business services. Despite Iowa's standing as the nation's #1 producer of hogs, agriculture is now only at #8 in the state's economy.
Interestingly, Iowa's top industrial sector, manufacturing, is fueled by food production. The state's massive pork production is then multiplied by the number of products that can come from every hog. When researchers add other agricultural products such as eggs, beef, milk, and chickens, it's clear that the state has found new ways to capitalize on its traditional revenue streams.
To fuel Iowa's economic growth, Iowa's high schools, community colleges, colleges, and universities have risen to the challenge. They provide an ever-stronger emphasis on courses in business administration. Iowa students now can focus their business administration degree on topics such as supply chain management, marketing, finance, human resources, or management information systems, to name a few options. In fact, high school students can begin their path to business success with courses in accounting and more.
Given the state's relationship between agricultural products and manufacturing, Iowa needs well trained experts from its colleges and universities. After all, every manufacturing facility needs management with business administration degrees who can operate the factories. They need degrees in supply chain management, marketing, and operations management just to get the products to market. Manufacturers also need experts with degrees in management information systems who can keep the IT infrastructure humming and human resources experts to keep everyone happy and well-paid.
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Iowa is in a fairly unique economic position and its colleges and universities have taken note. They understand that the state and local economy needs suitable workers. They are thus able to craft courses that cater to the state’s specific needs. After all, professors need to make their courses relevant in order for students to take notice and excel. Furthermore, university deans know that in order to maintain high academic ratings they need to produce well-prepared students for their state economy. Thankfully, Iowa's business administration programs are having no problems meeting the demands of their environment.
Associate Degree in Business Administration (ABA)
One terrific way to launch a business career is by completing an associate business administration degree from a local community college or an online college. Many community colleges offer business administration as part of their degree offerings. Students can often choose a specific track such as accounting, management, or marketing, among other options. These specialties can help students land an entry-level job with a local firm.
This degree option provides other benefits, as well. That is, students who complete an associate business administration degree at a community college will likely pay less per credit hour than those who attend a four-year institution. This in itself demonstrates a keen business mind, which can then be further developed when those community college credits transfer and students earn a bachelor’s business administration degree. Between the two schools, students can spend a year or two gaining experience, which will only pay off later.
Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration (BBA)
A bachelor’s business administration degree is the most common launchpad for a successful business career. Students can choose many different tracks for their business administration degree. Depending on the business degree program, students might choose from tracks such as finance, supply chain management, marketing, management information systems, management, or entrepreneurship, among many other options. With that in mind, students should research each prospective college's business degree offerings prior to enrolling.
A four-year business administration degree offers students many advantages that help them achieve much later on. The length of the degree means that undergraduate students have the opportunity to explore complimentary topics and achieve a well-rounded education. A four-year business administration degree can also come with a minor concentration such as accounting, computer science, engineering, or mathematics, which will be very helpful in the long run. Undergraduate students can also pursue experiential learning in the form of for-credit internships or co-op programs.
Master's Degree in Business Administration (MBA)
An MBA is increasingly required for long-term success in business administration. While a bachelor’s business administration degree is a fantastic way to launch a career, most business administration professionals will want the advanced degree to attain their ultimate business goals. This is because C-level positions often require an MBA or some similar master’s business administration degree.
An MBA is probably the top choice among business administration professionals because it allows students the opportunity to immerse in both general business topics as well as a concentration area. The first year is spent studying a broad range of business subjects, and then students choose a concentration area with which to complete their degree. The concentration area is typically the one that will guide the rest of the student's career. Therefore, it’s vital to be certain of a concentration before pursuing it. However, if you wish to change course later, it's always possible to return for a master’s certificate program.
PhD Degree in Business Administration (DBA)
Though the business community doesn't place much of an emphasis on a doctorate degree, those who achieve this degree will reap many rewards. Business professionals who decide to pursue a doctorate should consider their long-term goals. That is, if they have a need to pursue a specific topic and write a lengthy dissertation paper on that topic, they should also be certain that the work will pay off later.
Business administration professionals who pursue a doctorate in a field such as management information sciences may be able to directly apply their learning in the business world. Those who pursue finance or data science will certainly find many highly paid opportunities to work with a variety of organizations. Of course, a doctorate degree is also a terrific way to land a full-time teaching position with a college or university. While it’s possible to teach college with a master’s business degree, most schools prefer that their faculty all hold doctorates.
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Become a Business Administrator in Iowa
Iowa is a great state for business. While many think of the state as primarily concerned with agriculture, there are many more options available than that in the economy. Iowans are engaged in a wide range of business administration activities such as marketing, finance, accounting, management, information technology, data science, and more. In fact, the two largest industries in Iowa are manufacturing and finance/insurance. Both of these areas need highly qualified business professionals.
The road to success in business starts when students are in their formative years. Future business leaders often start showing a flair for certain activities. Those who may be on track for an accounting or finance career often excel in mathematics, love computers, and may even be fascinated with the stock market. Budding marketing professionals may show a fascination with how products are packaged and otherwise presented in stores and online. Others may have a blend of talents and a particular knack for leadership, these students may end up being the next top CEO.
This must all be supported with a strong academic record. Students who desire a business administration career should seek out a high school that offers a business curriculum. This may be a charter school, but standard public schools are known to offer courses in accounting and general business principles. High schoolers might also consider dabbling in entrepreneurship by offering lawn care, babysitting, or even web design services in their local community.
Toward the end of high school, students should find the best business administration college degree program for them. It's vital that students investigate each interesting program to ensure that they offer the precise degree tracks they are looking for. It's also important to note that an undergraduate degree is often rather general in scope so, if a student has a strong feeling for a great school that only offers management and not sports management, they should still consider enrolling. After all, an undergraduate management student can do focused research into sports management and find appropriate internships that will help them launch their career.
Careers for Business Administration Graduates
- Maintenance Manager
This position might not require a degree, but it will surely demand strong organizational skills, leadership abilities, and even some bookkeeping skills. This job may cover an office park, apartment building, or other large building, or series of buildings. A strong knowledge of how to address issues with a building's boiler, electrical systems, and more will go a long way in this job.
- Branch Manager, Banking
This position requires a strong foundation in finance, accounting, and management. Most who hold this job have a bachelor’s business administration degree but those with an associate business administration degree can also find their way to this position with enough experience. Along the way, those who earn an MBA or other master’s business degree can rise into a position with regional management or may transition into some other corner of the banking and finance world.
- Team Supervisor, Call Center
This is often a great position to hold on the way to upper management. Team supervisors typically have between three and five years of experience in call centers and they know how to motivate their team members an achieve great things for upper management. With a few years of success, a team supervisor can become a manager. This position may require only that applicants have experience, but an associate business administration degree will certainly help.
- Supply Chain Manager
Supply chain issues became very visible during the pandemic years when supplies of toilet paper, among other consumer goods, ran thin. This profession can involve pure logistics and common sense but increasingly the field is closer to a high-tech job. To succeed in supply chain management, students should seek bachelor’s degrees or greater.
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- Financial Advisor
To become a certified financial planner, professionals need to have a bachelor’s degree as minimum. The CFP board doesn't require any specific degree, such as a finance degree, but those who already have a strong academic background in finance will surely have an advantage. However, every candidate will have to take the same courses and pass the same examination. Once certified, financial advisors can join a firm or work as independent financial advisors.
- Accounting Associate
With an associate accounting degree, or even a bachelor’s degree in accounting, professionals can work as an accounting associate. These workers typically work under a CPA or other credentialed accountant in an accounting firm or an accounting department within a corporation. Those who have a bachelor’s degree can consider pursuing a CPA license, though accountants can also consider other certifications such as risk management, forensic accounting, and more.
- Non-Profit Director
This is a top-level position in a non-profit organization, which needs professionals who hold at least a bachelor’s degree. However, it will be very helpful to hold an MBA degree with a concentration in management, marketing, or non-profits. While some business students may overlook work in the non-profit sector, they should remember that many organizations, including Blue Cross/Blue Shield and the National Football League either are or were non-profit organizations.