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What is Business Administration?

If you have the desire to enter into management in your chosen area of expertise, then a degree in business administration can help you reach your goals. Having at least a base knowledge of business management, marketing, and accounting can put you ahead of others in your profession. For example, a musician with a business background can better determine if offered deals are good or not. Artists can better understand their contracts. It’s never a bad idea to have some business education. So, if this is of interest to you, keep reading. Below you will find information on the kinds of degrees you can get in business and some of the careers you could pursue once you have an education under your belt.

A business administrator is a person who works in a business setting. Since pretty much every business has some sort of office that runs operations, generally those who work at the top of that office are considered business administrators. There are several areas in which a person can work for a business, from the accounting department to the mail room. But in most cases, the administrators are the managers of department and the management team for the business such as the president, VP, owner, CEO, etc. The further up the management ladder a person gets, the more responsibilities a business administrator will have. The good news is that many administrators start out as regular employees who progress thanks to a combination of work experience and education.

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Business Administration Education in Massachusetts

Business administration is a college major that is a bit of a catchall for many industries. After all, any entity that has the goal of providing goods or services in a business needs people to run them. So, getting a degree in business administration is a good way to get a foot in the door of any business, especially if moving into management is an ultimate goal.

Since it is such a broad field, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of people employed in it. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are almost 230,000 people employed in some sort of business administrative area in Massachusetts. The state’s biggest industries are business and finance, real estate, and education, so that surely fuels the need for business professionals but, as we mentioned, all businesses regardless of the industry needs business professionals to run them. Whether you want to be an accountant or a florist, there are business administration positions that need to be filled.

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Associate Degree in Business Administration (ABA)

An associate degree is a good place to start for people who might not be sure if pursuing a business degree is a good idea. If they decide that this is the path they want to follow, then this degree is a good starting point for a bachelor’s degree. If they decide it’s not where they want to go, then the courses are still good to have regardless of the direction they take in the future. Associate degrees take two years to complete, which is generally four semesters, though some people finish sooner while others need more time.

While enrolled in a business administration program, students will take courses such as:

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

Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration (BBA)

Most four-year degrees in business administration have a specialization to go with the business administration generalization. A specialization has additional courses taken beyond the general business administration core curriculum and can include classes in accounting, management, marketing, or other courses specific to the specialization.

For example, someone who wants to go become a financial analyst might take the usual business courses such as:

  • Accounting I & II
  • Intro to Management
  • Intro to Marketing
  • Business Law & Ethics
  • Micro- and Macroeconomics
  • Payroll Accounting
  • Computerized Accounting

But these students also took personal and business finance classes such as:

  • Corporate Finance
  • Personal Financial Management
  • Financial Strategies
  • Quantitative Business Analysis

Master's Degree in Business Administration (MBA)

For those who want to enter into senior management positions in a company, a Master of Business Administration, aka an MBA, is a requirement. A bachelor’s degree will often be enough to start a career in finance or other areas of business, but managers need additional education to effectively manage people and companies. MBA programs build on what is taught at the undergraduate level, but add additional critical thinking, speculation, and analytical courses into the mix.

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

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

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.

PhD Degree in Business Administration (DBA)

A doctorate in business administration (DBA) is an option, but the need for this degree is rather specialized. Many people who get a doctorate in business are seeking to become tenured professors for a college or university. The degree is also helpful in a business setting, but it is needed more in academia.

Those who pursue this degree will study the following areas:

  • Accounting
  • Marketing
  • Ethics
  • Management
  • Economics
  • Human Development (in an organization)
  • Finance
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Operational Management
  • Information Systems

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Become a Business Administrator in Massachusetts

Becoming a business administration professional typically involves the combination of work experience and formal education and training, though some do manage to make into administration without the education. This is the harder route, however, because in most cases work experience is substituted for education, and that’s typically not a one-to-one correlation. In other words, it will take longer for a person relying on work experience to make it into management than someone with a formal education. This isn’t always fair, as there are many employees who have the experience to be excellent managers but lack the “piece of paper” that officially proves they have this knowledge. That said, here is the more acceptable path to reach the rank of business administration professional.

First get a degree. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in business, but it should be related to the industry in which you want to work, and some management courses should be included in the education. If you haven’t already started working in your chosen industry, looking for a part-time job isn’t a bad idea. If you aren’t sure what industry you want to pursue, getting a general education in business and management is a good approach. If an internship is an option, take it, provided you aren’t already working in the field. An internship will give you a better idea of what it will be like to work in the industry and help you determine if you are on the right path career-wise. It’s also a great way to network and meet people already established in the industry; connections that might come in handy in the future.

Once you attain at least the basic knowledge needed to work in the industry (and provided you haven’t already done so) you can start looking for jobs in the industry. If you cannot find work in that specific area, look for positions that are parallel or related to it. The job hunt can take a while, so be patient and keep an eye out for any and all opportunities. This is where the connections you made during your internship could prove useful. Keep in mind that, in all likelihood, the jobs you are considered qualified for will be entry-level positions, unless you’ve been working this entire time. In that case, management positions might be an option for you, depending on your work experience.

Once you have secured employment, start working your way up the business ladder. Do your job to the best of your ability. If a new opportunity presents itself, either with the same company or a different one, don’t be afraid to explore the opportunity and see where it leads. There was a time when job hopping was frowned upon, but that’s not really the case anymore. Most employers understand the concept of going where you are of the greatest use and will be considered the greatest asset. Staying with an organization that might not have any opportunities for advancement might seem like the loyal thing to do, but it hurts your chances to achieve your goals of being in management. So, do what is best for you and your ultimate goals.

Careers for Business Administration Graduates

There are so many different paths a person can take to become a business administration professional that it’s hard to narrow the list down to a few. But below are some of the more common positions someone hoping to become a business administrator could pursue.

  • Branch Manager, Banking
    A bank branch manager is the person who runs a particular branch of a bank. For example, if a bank has five branches, there is a manager for each branch. This person oversees all the other employees of that particular bank location. They report to the main branch’s management team (not the main office branch manager) and they have to account for everything that occurs at that location. Some managers start out as tellers and worked their way up, while others get banking degrees and take that route instead. A high attention to detail and desire to work with the public is a must.
  • Team Supervisor, Call Center
    Team supervisors in a call center are part management and part cheerleader. Most team supervisors started out as call center representatives, so they have first-hand experience working as a rep. Leading a team of representatives can be a challenge, especially for a person who has never taken a call, but for those who have risen from an entry-level position, leading reps is often a much easier step. Team supervisors report to the project supervisor (who also at one point typically worked as a rep) and, between the two, they train, supervise, and advise the other representatives.

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  • Financial Advisor
    Financial advisors assist individuals who want to invest money. Advisors are knowledgeable about finance, banking, stocks, bonds, and other investment instruments. Advisors review a person’s financial circumstances, the money they have available to invest, and their desired return on investment and makes suggestions regarding where to put their money for the best financial outcome. They usually work for financial brokerages but can also work for themselves. Advisors generally have business degrees coupled with special financing training. They also have excellent people and communication skills.
  • Accounting Associate
    Accounting associates work in accounting in a variety of areas. Associates could be full-charge accountants, or they could work in a particular area of accounting such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, or payroll. Associates are trained in accounting, with many holding CPAs or advanced degrees. The amount of responsibility an associate has will depend on the organization.
  • Project Manager
    Project managers oversee the implementation of projects for a business. Managers create teams to execute the various projects that an organization completes. They organize the implementation plan, assign team members to different parts of the project, and oversees the execution of the plan.

Other professions that a person with a business administration degree can pursue include:

  • Supply Chain Manager
  • Non-Profit Director
  • Public Services/Works Director
  • Administrative Coordinator
  • Maintenance Manager
  • Chief Marketing Manager
  • Digital Marketing Manager/Director
  • Product Manager

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