How to Become a Business Professional in North Carolina

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What Business Major are You Interested In?


Are you interested in pursuing a business degree in North Carolina? Many colleges and universities in the state offer this major at varying academic levels. The subject is highly popular in the United States as graduates are often prepared for a wide variety of employment opportunities. This is because curriculums typically help students develop coveted skills in management, finance, leadership, and marketing. The knowledge gained is also easily applied to almost any industry, making career outlooks promising.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in business and financial occupations is expected to increase by 8% from 2020 to 2030. This it as fast as average for all occupations in the country and will likely add approximately 750,800 new positions to the field. The primary reasons for this projected growth include continued globalization, overall economic growth throughout the nation, and the increasing use of market research to more clearly understand customer demand.

Notably, some business and financial occupations are expected to experience more growth than others. The logistician profession, for example, is expected to increase by 30% before 2013, which is significantly faster than average. Employment for market research analysts is also projected to grow 22%, while the labor relations specialist occupation is expected to decline by 4%. As a result, it’s important for prospective students and professionals to research their specific jobs of interest within the business field prior to enrolling in academic programs.

Professional and business services is the second largest industry in North Carolina. It accounts for $68.1 billion in revenue for the state each year. Additionally, many of the other top sectors rely on those with business expertise, making employment more readily available. Based on data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, business and financial operations occupations accounted for 286,320 of the state’s jobs in May 2021. The annual mean wage for these professionals in North Carolina was $80,830, which is well above the state’s annual mean wage of $53,100, as well as the national median.


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Online Business Education in North Carolina


While colleges and universities throughout the nation offer business degrees with online learning options, prospective professionals in North Carolina should give preference to institutions within the state. Distance learning makes it easy to study from anywhere with internet access, but local schools tend to have a better understanding of the state’s employment market. They generally understand North Carolina regulations and employer expectations better. This is particularly important for individuals planning to start their own businesses. Additionally, colleges and universities within the state will likely have established relationships with many local companies and organizations, which can make obtaining internships and jobs easier.

Earning business degrees can lead to a wide variety of employment opportunities in North Carolina. The academic major is very unrestrictive as graduates tend to possess knowledge and skills that benefit most types of companies and organizations. Many industries depend on and utilize their expertise. As a result, there are business professionals of all kinds within the field. Job titles and descriptions can vary significantly, with business professionals performing various tasks, depending on their employer and industry. These individuals may find work in all sorts of different environments, from office cubicles to client homes.

Graduates also tend to look for employment that aligns with their personal interests.

Some of the most prominent career paths for those in this field include:

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

Because the options are so expansive and every industry has different needs, it’s difficult to identify the specific daily tasks and responsibilities of business professionals. Most, however, have jobs that involve analyzing and/or improving the performance of companies and organizations. Aspects that impact job perimeters most include employer industry, size, and objectives. Notably, it’s even possible for positions with the same titles to differ.

In order to ensure that graduates are prepared to work in a wide variety of workplace settings, colleges and universities typically design academic programs to focus on high-value areas such as analytics, leadership, and research. These topics generally prove useful regardless of industry and position title. The most successful professionals in business also tend to have exceptional critical thinking and problem solving abilities. Additionally, they frequently demonstrate excellent interpersonal, leadership, communication, and social perceptiveness skills.

In most cases, business professionals must obtain some level of higher education. Fortunately, colleges and universities in North Carolina offer a number of academic program options including online associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees, as well as professional certificates.

While graduates at every level can find employment, professionals with more education, training, and experience will qualify for more opportunities. Additionally, professionals with advanced degrees tend to enjoy more job security and higher pay. To ensure all necessary requirements are met, it’s always a good idea to consider overall career goals prior to selecting an online degree type.

Online Associate Degree in Business (AS)

Online associate degree programs in business generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Program specifics vary, but most include both general education and major classes. Instruction related to business commonly covers finance, human resources management, and customer service and coverage of these topics is often quite broad.

This is an ideal degree for students seeking an introduction to the field and who want to obtain entry-level employment quickly. Graduates will quality for work as administrative assistants, executive assistants, food service managers, bookkeepers, office managers, human resources employees, and office clerks. Employment opportunities may be somewhat limited, however, as those with more education are often competing for the same positions. Employers are often inclined to select candidates with online bachelor’s degrees.

It's also common for graduates to enroll in further education. Most colleges and universities accept between 60 and 90 transfer credits. As a result, those with associate degrees often enter bachelor’s degree programs as juniors rather than freshmen. This is a particularly good option for students seeking to save money on tuition and fees. Many community colleges charge lower rates than bigger four-year institutions, allowing those enrolled to save money during their first two years of education.

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Online Bachelor's Degree in Business (BS)

Online bachelor degree programs in business generally consist of 120 credit hours of coursework, which takes full-time students approximately four years to complete. Program specifics vary, but most programs are comprised of both general education and major-specific classes. Instruction does tend to provide a more comprehensive exploration of the field, with particular focus placed on marketing, finance, and accounting. Students typically develop various business-related skills that can be applied in almost every employment setting. Additionally, many colleges and universities offer opportunities to tailor coursework by selecting concentrations.

Some of the most commonly available options include:

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

This type of degree is ideal for those interested in pursuing entry-level employment in business. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the minimum education requirement for most business and finance occupations is a bachelor’s degree. Graduates generally qualify to apply for jobs as financial analysts, human resource specialists, and management consultants.

While online bachelor’s degrees are sufficient for many entry-level business professions, they do not satisfy the hiring requirements for most advanced supervisory positions. Those interested in pursuing this type of employment will need to continue their educations by earning master’s or doctorate degrees.

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Online Master's Degree in Business (MS)

Online master’s degrees in business generally consist of 30 to 60 credit hours of coursework, which full-time students can finish within about two years. There are a couple options: master’s in business or master’s in business administration (MBA). Both cover similar topics, but MBA programs tend to place more instructional emphasis on planning and execution than standard business programs do.

As previously mentioned, these degrees are for those interested in upper management and supervisory roles. Graduates are often perceived as experts in business, management, and leadership, making them ideal candidates for jobs with higher expectations and more responsibilities. They also tend to receive larger salaries and promote faster. Common employment opportunities include training and development manager, top executives, public relations and fundraising manager, human resource manager, information technology manager, financial manager, industrial production manager, and management analyst.

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Online PhD Degree in Business (PhD)

Doctorate degrees in business generally consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours and take full-time students four to seven years to complete. In addition to classroom instruction, most programs contain a significant independent research component. Students also typically write and defend dissertations prior to graduation.

Students may also choose to pursue online doctorates in business administration (DBA) or management. These usually require at least six years to complete. DBAs are similar to other degrees at this level but place a greater emphasis on theoretical knowledge related to business and business management. Graduates tend to pursue employment in upper management and executive positions such as top executive, postsecondary business professor, postsecondary, education administrator, and economist.

This is the highest level of education available in the field. And, while it is rarely required even for mid-level employment, a doctorate degree can lead to a number of career opportunities in research and/or academia.

Become a Business Development Specialist in North Carolina


Because there are many different types of business professionals in North Carolina, the first step is establishing your personal career goals. Not only will this help you determine the type of work you want to perform, but it will make selecting an appropriate academic program significantly easier. Your intended profession will often dictate the type and amount of education necessary to qualify for employment in the future.

In addition to completing the necessary education requirements to qualify for your intended career, obtaining various certifications and/or licenses can prove useful. While few business professions require state or national licensure, obtaining credentials from professional associations, organizations, and corporations can improve job prospects. Additional certifications often increase marketability and lead to jobs with higher earning potential. It’s also worth noting that some employers expect candidates to acquire certain credentials prior to or after being hired.

You may also be interested in opening your own business in North Carolina. Starting a business in the state involves planning, making several key decisions, and completing a series of legal steps. Requirements include choosing a business structure, registering your business, obtaining any necessary licenses, and registering to pay taxes. While there is no single generic business license that ensures compliance, there are almost 950 regulatory, state-issued, and occupational licenses and permits available. You can find out more about occupational licenses by contacting your local occupational board. Additionally, there are many helpful resources available. EDPNC Small Business Advisors, for example, works in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Commerce. It’s a free service available to anyone seeking to start small businesses in the state offering one-on-one phone consultations and general support.

Careers for Business Graduates


Earning a business degree can lead to a number of great career opportunities in North Carolina. The specific options will vary depending on the amount of higher education achieved, but the state does support a wide variety of profession in and related to business.

Some of the most common jobs available to graduates include:

  • Account Manager
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Business Development Director
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Content Marketing Specialist/Manager
  • C-Suite Professional
  • Data Analyst
  • Entrepreneur
  • Financial / Business Analyst
  • Human Resources (HR) Specialist
  • Information Technology (IT) Director
  • Marketing Manager
  • Office Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Public Relations Specialist/Manager
  • Supply Chain Specialist/Manager
  • Team Leader
  • Vice President of Operations
  • Project Manager:
    Project managers oversee projects assigned to them by their employers. They establish associated goals and set timelines, as well as managing associated budgets and resources. These professionals must share any important information and updates about their projects with other teams and stakeholders. According to PayScale, project managers make an average base salary of $75,000 per year.
  • Administrative Assistant:
    Administrative assistants perform a wide variety of administrative support tasks for other employees. They often file paperwork, sort files, conduct minor research, and complete personal errands for others in the workplace. These professionals may perform data entry, billing, inventory, correspondence, and record-keeping responsibilities. According to PayScale, administrative assistants make an average base hourly rate of $16.25, or approximately $40,150 per year.
  • Marketing Manager:
    Marketing managers create advertising and merchandising sales campaigns for businesses and organizations. They may oversee marketing for an entire company, one or more brands, or a single product. These professionals also conduct market research studies, monitor program performance, and collaborate with product managers to ensure success. According to PayScale, marketing managers make an average base salary of $66,600 per year.
  • Human Resources (HR) Specialist:
    Human resources managers control employee policies, procedures, and compliance for the companies or organizations they work for. They often ensure all work-related activities are documented and legal. These professionals also manage employee benefits and initiative programs, as well as verifying that all state and federal regulations are met. According to PayScale, human resources managers make an average base salary of $68,750 per year.
  • Supply Chain Specialist/Manager:
    Supply chain managers oversee franchise supply chains for companies and organizations. They typically coordinate sales and customer service teams, ensuring the necessary logistical and procedural policies are in place and followed. These professional also manage inventories based on demand. According to PayScale, supply chain managers make an average base salary of $83,950 per year.
  • Financial Analyst or Business Analyst:
    Financial analysts study marketplace trends, demographics, and microeconomic factors and report relevant findings to their employers. They often project growth over time and recommend the best resource investments possible. These professionals may also provide advice regarding bonds and stock splitting. According to PayScale, financial analysts make an average base salary of $61,950 per year.

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