How to Become a Business Professional in Rhode Island

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What Business Major are You Interested In?


Are you considering enrolling in a business degree program in Rhode Island? This is a highly popular major among students in the United States, largely because graduates are prepared for a wide variety of employment opportunities across many different fields. Every college and university’s curriculums are different, but most are designed to help students develop skills in management, finance, leadership, and marketing. Expertise in these areas is typically highly regarded by employers. Additionally, general knowledge in business can be utilized in almost any industry, ensuring graduates have decent employment prospects regardless of their career goals.

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 is about as fast as average for all occupations in the country and will likely add approximately 750,800 new positions to the field. The primary reason for this projected growth is continued globalization, as well as overall economic growth throughout the nation and the increasing use of market research to better understand customer demand.


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Online Business Education in Rhode Island


It's worth noting that some business and financial occupations are expected to experience more growth than others. Logisticians, for example, can expect to see an increase of 30% before 2030, which is significantly faster than the average for all occupations. Employment for market research analysts is also projected to grow 22%. Those interested in these professions may find it is a particularly good time to pursue them. Conversely, however, there are some occupations that are likely to decline over the coming years. Labor relations specialists, for example, will see a decrease of 4% in job availability. Prospective students should research the jobs that interest them most in advance to determine projected availability.

Opportunities in this field seem relatively promising in Rhode Island. Professional and business services is the third largest industry in the state, accounting for $7.8 billion in revenue each year. This indicates there are likely to be a decent number of positions available. Graduates are likely to have even better prospects, however, as a significant number of Rhode Island’s other top sectors also rely on those who possess knowledge and skills in business. Based on data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, business and financial operations occupations accounted for 35,850 of the state’s jobs in May 2021. The annual mean wage for these professionals in the state was $87,650, which is well above Rhode Island’s annual mean wage of $62,120.

Rhode Island is the smallest state in the nation, but it is still home to many top colleges and universities offering online degrees in business and other related subjects. While some prospective students may be tempted to enroll in online programs, those who plan to seek employment in the state may want to avoid this. Distance learning makes it easy to study from anywhere with internet access, but local schools typically have a much better understanding of what companies and organizations look for in business professionals. As a result, these institutions adapt instruction to ensure students build knowledge in the areas most important to employers in the state. Additionally, Rhode Island schools often have established relationships with nearby agencies, which can make obtaining internships and jobs easier.

Business degrees can lead to a wide variety of employment opportunities with different expectations and responsibilities. The field is actually incredibly broad. In fact, graduates tend to possess knowledge and skills that can be applied to work performed for most companies and organizations and in all sorts of environments, from office cubicles to client homes.

As many industries depend on and utilize the expertise of business professionals, most Rhode Island college and university programs strive to prepare graduates to perform a wide range of tasks that can prove useful regardless of job title. Instruction tends to focus on high-value areas such as analytics, leadership, and research. 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.

The majority of business professionals find work that involves analyzing and/or improving company or organization performance. The specific responsibilities assigned, however, will depend on job title, as well as the employer’s industry, size, and objectives. Notably, it’s even possible for positions with the same titles to differ. Experts in this field are also often encouraged to pursue employment that aligns well with their personal interests.

Some of the most prominent career paths available include:

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

Because most employers in the field expect job candidates to have degrees, the mass majority of business professionals obtain some level of higher education. Fortunately, this is a highly popular major offered by many colleges and universities throughout the nation. Prospective students can choose from a variety of relevant academic programs at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate levels. Additionally, many institutions offer professional certificate programs in business.

Opportunities will depend upon the degree type attained, as well as other training and experience in the field. Notably, professionals with more advanced education tend to have access to the best jobs, greater job security, and higher salary potential. Those interested should consider their options and career goals carefully before applying for enrollment.

Online Associate Degree in Business (AS)

Associate degree programs in business generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately two years to complete, online or on-campus. Curriculums vary, but most liberal arts programs are comprised of both general education and major-specific classes. In addition to communication and mathematics, students can expect to receive business-relevant instruction in finance, human resources management, and customer service. These topics are typically covered broadly, providing a basic introduction to the field and a foundation for future learning.

This type of degree is most helpful for students seeking an introduction to the business field. Graduates can choose between seeking entry-level employment right away and pursuing further education. Many who possess associate degrees in business quality for work as administrative assistants, executive assistants, food service managers, bookkeepers, office managers, human resources employees, and office clerks. It’s important to realize, however, that employment opportunities can be limited. This is because those with bachelor’s degrees often qualify and compete for the same positions. Prospective employers are often inclined to select candidates with more education.

As a result, many graduates choose to transfer the credits earned to four-year academic institutions. Most online colleges and universities accept between 60 and 90 credit hours from other properly accredited schools. This means those with associate degrees may be able to enroll in bachelor’s degree programs as juniors instead of freshmen, with only two more years of instruction needed.

Obtaining an associate degree prior to enrolling in a bachelor’s degree programs is a particularly good option for students facing financial hardship. Community colleges often charge significantly lower tuition and fee rates than traditional institutions, and this makes it possible for students to save money during the first two years of their academic careers.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Business (BS)

Bachelor degree programs in business generally consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that takes full-time students approximately four years to complete, online or on-campus. Every curriculum is different but, as with associate degrees, most liberal arts programs at this level are comprised of both general education and major-specific classes. Students can expect instruction to delve deeper into many key components in the field, however, with particular focus placed on marketing, finance, and accounting. Coursework and extracurricular activities typically assist with skills development in relevant areas that can be applied to business professions, as well as various other employment settings. It’s also common for colleges and universities to offer concentration tracks that tailor study to a specialty.

Some of the most common options available include:

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

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.

It’s important to realize that many top-paying, supervisory professions in this field require additional education. While bachelor’s degrees are sufficient for many entry-level positions, master’s degrees often lead to many more opportunities. Notably, credits earned at the undergraduate level cannot be transferred and applied towards graduate school. Prospective students should also prepare to meet grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score minimums.

Online Master's Degree in Business (MS)

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. Prospective students have a couple of options. They can either pursue a master’s in business or a master’s in business administration (MBA). Both degrees cover similar topics relevant to the career field, building upon the knowledge and skills gained at the undergraduate level. The primary distinction, however, is that MBA programs tend to place more instructional emphasis on planning and execution than standard business programs. They also provide more access to concentrations in many business functions such as human resources, marketing, sales, healthcare administration, and more.

These degrees are ideal for individuals who plan to pursue upper management and supervisory roles in the field. Graduates are often perceived as experts in business, management, and leadership, making them ideal candidates for many positions. This is especially true for jobs with higher expectations and more responsibilities. Those with master’s degrees also tend to promote faster and possess more earning potential. Some of the most common employment opportunities available 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.

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. Those enrolled can expect further classroom instruction in high-level business concepts. Additionally, however, curriculums typically leave significant room for independent study and research. Prior to graduation, students are often expected to write and defend dissertations before a board of field experts.

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.

Another option available is the doctorate in business administration (DBA). These generally require at least six years to fully complete. While similar to other doctoral degrees, DBAs place a greater emphasis on theoretical knowledge related to business and business management. Graduates are often qualified for employment in upper management and executive positions such as top executive, postsecondary business professor, postsecondary, education administrator, and economist.

Become a Business Development Specialist in Rhode Island


With so many different employment opportunities available in the business field, it’s important to spend time researching the various options and their corresponding requirements. This can help you establish your personal career goals, as well as helping you to select the most appropriate academic program(s). Your intended profession is likely to dictate the type and amount of education necessary to qualify for employment in the future.

Once you have met all of the necessary or preferred education requirements, it may be beneficial to pursue one or more related certifications. Many business professionals choose to obtain additional credentials from professional associations, organizations, and corporations. While licensure is rarely required in this field, certifications can help improve job prospects, marketability, and overall earning potential. Notably, some employers also expect job candidates to possess certain credentials prior to applying. They may also require further certification once employed.

Additionally, if you are planning to start your own business in Rhode Island after graduation, it’s important to become familiar with the process. According to the Secretary of State, most business structures need to register with the Rhode Island Department of State. You will need to provide the name of the company, a registered agent the associated address, business structure, and proof of insurance. Most structures allow for online filing and fee payment but some must be submitted as hardcopies. Once your business is registered, you must confirm your registration filing was accepted and obtain a Federal Employer Identification (EIN) number from the International Revenue Service (IRS). You must also register with the Rhode Island Division of Taxation, which makes it easy to file and pay taxes moving forward.

Careers for Business Graduates


There are numerous career opportunities for those who possess business degrees in Rhode Island. While specific job availability will depend on the level of education obtained, graduates can generally pursue a wide variety of professions in the field.

Job descriptions, prerequisites, and pay will likely differ, but some common options include the following

  • Account Manager
  • Business Development Director
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Content Marketing Specialist / Manager
  • C-Suite Professional
  • Data Analyst
  • Entrepreneur
  • Information Technology (IT) Director
  • Office Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • Public Relations Specialist / Manager
  • Team Leader
  • Vice President of Operations
  • Project Manager:
    Project managers are responsible for overseeing the various projects they are assigned. These professionals often set project goals and timelines and manage all associated resources and budgets. They may also provide important information and updates to other teams and stakeholders when needed. According to PayScale, project managers make an average base salary of $75,000 per year.
  • Administrative Assistant:
    Administrative assistants are responsible for performing a wide variety of administrative support tasks as directed by their supervisors. These professionals are often asked to file paperwork, sort files, conduct minor research, and complete personal errands for others. They also commonly perform tasks related to data entry, billing, inventory, correspondence, and record-keeping. According to PayScale, administrative assistants make an average base hourly rate of $16.25, or approximately $40,150 per year.
  • Marketing Manager:
    Marketing managers are responsible for developing appealing advertising and merchandising sales campaigns for products, brands, and/or entire businesses and organizations. These professionals often spend time conducting market research studies, monitoring program performance, and collaborating with product managers to ensure campaign success. According to PayScale, marketing managers make an average base salary of $66,600 per year.
  • Human Resources (HR) Specialist:
    Human resources managers are responsible for managing all policies, procedures, and compliance related to professionals employed by companies and organizations. They ensure all work-related activities are legal and properly documented, as well as verifying state and federal regulations are met. Additionally, these professionals oversee employee benefits and initiative programs. According to PayScale, human resources managers make an average base salary of $68,750 per year.
  • Supply Chain Manager:
    Supply chain managers are responsible for overseeing company and organization franchise supply chains. These professionals typically ensure the necessary logistical and procedural policies are in place and adhered to. They also direct sales and customer service teams, as well as manage inventories based on demand. According to PayScale, supply chain managers make an average base salary of $83,950 per year.
  • Financial Analyst:
    Financial analysts are responsible for studying and evaluating marketplace trends, demographics, and microeconomic factors. These professionals then develop comprehensive reports for their employers, projecting potential growth over time and recommending the best resource investments possible. They may also provide insight and 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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