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What does McDonald’s, a real estate agent, and an oil refinery worker have in common? They’re all businesses that depend on trained workers for their survival. Businesses need employees, and the better trained they are, the better. Business professionals are needed to keep businesses and industries running. As much as a business needs customers, they also need employees to serve them.
According to the US Bureau of labor Statistics, there are just under 12,000 people employed in Louisiana’s two biggest industries, manufacturing and real estate. On average, those working in these two industries make $78,000 and $51,000, respectively. The amount a person can earn as a business professional will vary depending on factors such as the industry, the level of education a person has, and the amount of experience they have. The more experience and education, the greater income potential, regardless of the industry. Also, according to BLS, the need for business professionals in both the industries mentioned above is expected to increase between now and 2030, so this is a good time to start on the path as a business professional. Below is some information regarding degree requirements, a guide for how to break in and some examples of careers a person with an education in business could pursue. If you think you might be interested in pursuing a career as a business professional in a particular industry, keep reading.
Although when most people think of a business professional, they think of a person in a suit carrying a briefcase to their office job, that’s a pretty narrow focus. Business professionals aren’t all white-collar jobs. Broadly, anyone who has a job is a business professional, but there are several levels of professionalism that exist in the workplace. Although a manager at an oil refinery might be considered a blue-collar job while a manager at an accounting firm is looked at as a white-collar job, both are managers and, as such, have some similar job duties. A professional is a person who strives to be the best at something, so whether that person works on an oil rig or a cubicle, they are a business professional.
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Business Education in Louisiana
Although a person can start their careers as business professionals without a formal education, some form of education will be required to move into top-level management positions. Below are the four most common level of education a person can receive.
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Associate Degree in Business (AS)
An associate degree in business will provide a basic education in business. The degree takes two years to complete and can cover a variety of areas in business, such as the following.
- Accounting I & II
- Business Ethics
- Business Law
- Intro to Management
- Intro to Marketing
An associate degree prepares a person for entry-level positions at most organizations. For those with work experience, the degree can allow them to attain lower management positions.
Bachelor's Degree in Business (BS)
A bachelor’s degree is generally considered the groundwork for a career as a business professional. This is especially true for those with no prior work experience. The four-year degree provides an overall education in all aspects of business. many programs also allow students to choose a specialization so that they can tailor their degree to match their career goals. For example, someone who wants to work in advertising might choose a marketing specialization for their degree.
Some of the courses included in a degree in business administration include the following.
- Managerial and Financial Accounting
- Business Ethics and Law
- Organizational Behavior
- Business Statistics
However, if someone chooses to pursue a career in manufacturing, they might add courses to the curriculum that will make them more attractive to prospective employers.
These courses might include the following.
- Managerial Accounting
- Cost Accounting
- Personnel Management
- Human Relations
- Conflict Management
Bachelor’s degrees take four years to complete if you attend full-time. Depending on the specialization, internships or portfolios might be required to complete the program.
Master's Degree in Business (MS or MC)
A four-year degree is enough to get a person started on their path to become a business professional. However, the competition for managerial and supervisory positions in many industries can be tight and, therefore, additional education is almost always required. A master’s in business administration, also known as an MBA, can offer students the opportunity to learn more about managing and running a business. The graduate degree builds on the foundation set by the bachelor’s degree and is tailored for those who want to run a business either as an owner or in a managerial role. Some of the topics students cover will already have been covered in their undergraduate study but will be studied more in-depth at the graduate level.
Some classes in the curriculum include the following.
- Advanced Business Communication
- Business Analytics
- Business Statistics
- Financial Projections
- Managerial Accounting
- Marketing Analytics
- Quantitative Business Analysis
Graduate degrees can take up to five years to complete and often require either a capstone project or a comprehensive exam. Also, it’s important to note that an MBA often comes with a choice of specialization, meaning that you can choose to focus your courses on the job you are currently performing or one in which you wish to gain skills so that you can move into the field. These include business analytics, economics, finance, global management, logistics and supply chain management, and many more.
PhD Degree in Business (PhD)
A doctorate degree in business administration, also known as a DBA, is an option for those considering tenured professor positions for a college or university. The terminal degree is also helpful to those who wish to become subject matter experts.
Students can study any of the following areas:
- Information Systems
- Organizational Leadership
- Operational Management
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Doctorate degrees can take up to seven years to complete and a dissertation is required to be written and successfully defended before the degree can be conferred.
Become a Business Development Specialist in Louisiana
To become a business professional in Louisiana, there are several things you have to do. First, you have to decide the industry in which you want to work. Most people have an industry or subject that interests them more than others, and that’s a good place to start. Learn all you can about the industry you are interested in and then find out what skills are required. The skills needed and your abilities should match. For example, someone who wants to become a chemist needs to have excellent math and science skills. If you are missing some of the skills required to be successful, this is where a formal education comes into the play. Getting a degree will help you sharpen your needed skills and help you determine if your career desires are reasonable and attainable. If you aren't sure this is your correct path, earning a lower-level degree first will help you determine if this is the path you want to stay on or if you want to choose a different career.
Another option for those interested in becoming a business professional in Louisiana is to start your own business. A person doesn't need formal training to operate a business, however, the additional education and insight into how businesses work can't hurt. Businesses that are run by people with a formal education are often viewed as more credible businesses than those that aren't run by degreed individuals. Other businesses and customers will often be more eager to work with a business that is run by a more educated owner or manager. Additionally, starting your own business means you will not have to deal with being an employee for someone else. For many, getting the education and being able to avoid working for someone else is a fair trade off.
Careers for Business Graduates
Business professionals exist at all levels of business. A secretary and a CEO might have vastly different job descriptions, but they are both business professionals with important duties vital the successful operation of a business. Below are some examples of jobs a business professional could pursue.
- VP Operations
A vice president of operations is basically the second in command at a business. They report directly to the president of the company. Operations is an umbrella for the overall performance of the business, encompassing all departments and employees. The VP has to understand how every part of the company runs and must keep track of its needs and do what is necessary to keep the organization operational.
- Operations Manager
Operation managers are upper-level managers that deal with human resource issues. They are in charge of hiring and retention, providing needed training, and ensuring the organization’s strategies are defined and being executed properly. They work for both for profit and not-for-profit organizations.
- Business Development Director
Business development directors are tasked with a business’ growth, growing its revenue, locating new business opportunities, and company brand building, among other things.
- Account Manager
An account manager is the bridge between a company and its clients. Account managers ensure that the client’s needs are met. Those needs vary depending on the type of business. Account managers might work independently, or they could have a team of managers under them.
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Entrepreneurs are business creators. They have a knack for creating solutions to issues and building a business around the solution. Entrepreneurs are risk takers and start new businesses while assuming much of the risk. They are also often tapped by current business owners to help them home in on their business idea and develop a plan to make the venture more successful.
- IT Director
The information technology director oversees the IT department. They are responsible for the execution and strategy of the IT infrastructure for a business entity. They direct the effective delivery of disaster recovery, networks, and data development. IT directors are also in charge of technical projects that help an organization meet their goals.
- Administrative Assistant
If you want to know an executive’s schedule, don’t ask the exec, ask the administrative assistant. Administrative assistants set up meetings, make travel arrangements, maintain filing systems, and more. They are often tasked with greeting clients and handling most of an executive’s communication, both in person as well as in writing. They must have excellent communication and organizational skills.
Other positions available to people with an education in business also include:
- CEO and other C-suite positions
- Marketing Manager
- Office Manager
- Data Analyst
- Financial/Business Analyst
- HR Specialist/Manager
- Project Manager
- Supply Chain Specialist/Manager
- Public Relations Specialist/Manager
- Content Marketing Specialist/Manager
- Human Resources Specialist
- Team Leader