Overview of an Associates in Business Management
An associate degree is usually not an entry-level degree in management. That often requires a bachelors. However, any degree will help you gain employment and associate degrees can qualify you for entry into lower-level business positions. From here, you can use your gained experience to help you earn higher degrees, gain certifications, or even start your own business. An associate degree is a great way for you to take your first step into the business world and allow you to choose your specialization or industry of interest.
An associate degree can be earned relatively quickly. It is considered a two-year degree, so it's a fast way to learn the ins and outs of basic business management. You'll have a solid understanding of corporate finance, business law, and similar subjects that are vital to management.
If your high school GPA is less than stellar, an associate's degree program will allow you to enter college without meeting the higher admissions criteria of a four-year school. With an associate degree you’ll most likely earn more, regardless of the industry you're interested in, than someone without any degree. This means you will most likely earn more money than a coworker with the same time on the job but less education.
An associate degree will also allow you to enter the workforce almost immediately, and perhaps even earn money while attending school. This may allow you to take advantage of employer educational programs and alleviate the cost of a higher degree.
Many community colleges offer business management associate programs, so you can save considerably on tuition when compared to a four-year college or university.
Most management positions require at least a bachelor's degree so you will not qualify for higher-level positions; many employers won't interview candidates for management positions who only hold a two-year degree. Although your chances of being hired in a non-management position are higher than those with no degree, they will still be lower than that of those who hold a bachelor's degree.
An associate degree does not allow you time to take advances courses, so you won't have extensive knowledge on anything outside of the basic business management subjects. If you aren’t careful about the school you choose, your credits may not transfer to a four-year program. You need to make sure your associate degree program carries the proper accreditation required by your four-year school of choice.
Certificate vs. Associates
Some students may consider earning a certificate rather than an associate degree. For example, if you're running your own business and need to learn basic bookkeeping, a certificate program may be the perfect solution. In a certificate program you'll only take courses specific to the topic you want to learn, skipping the core class requirements of an associate degree. This will allow you to fast-track your knowledge base of business management, but you should verify the credits will transfer to a two- or four-year program in the future, so that you have the option to go on to earn a degree if you need to later. A certificate program will prepare you to enter the workforce quickly, albeit in a lower position.
What Business Management Associate Degrees are Available?
Choosing a program can be confusing if you don't understand the difference between the degrees offered. Basically, there are four types of degrees you might choose from: Associate of Science (AS), Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Applied Science (AAS), and Associate of Applied Business (AAB)s. The first two (AS and AA) are designed for students who plan to transfer to a four-year bachelor's degree program and the latter two (AAB and AAA) are stand-alone programs, designed for immediate entry into the workforce.
Within these four choices, degrees that include the word "Science" will have more science and math requirements and be more focused on technical areas of business management. The degrees with "Art" in the title have more generalized subject requirements. A science program will have specific subject requirements to choose from for your elective classes while an arts degree will typically allow you to choose from a wide range of general subjects for your electives.
Your choice may come into play at a later date when you are ready to enter a bachelor's program, as there may be prerequisites that were offered in a science program but not in an arts degree program.
Generally speaking, the only requirements for an Business Management Associate Degree program are a high school diploma or GED. You will probably be required to submit your school transcripts and ACT or SAT scores as well, depending on your school of choice. If you plan to enter an AS program you may have specific math and science prerequisites, too.
Most colleges offer remedial courses is subjects such as English and Algebra; on the opposite spectrum, for a nominal fee you may be able to test out of some subjects if you took advanced courses in high school.
How long does it take to earn a Business Management Associates?
An associate degree requires 60 semester credit hours (90 quarter credit hours) to earn your diploma. If you attend full-time it will take two years; if you take courses over the summers, you may even be able to graduate in 18 months.
If you plan to attend part-time you can use the 60 credit hour rule to project how long it will take for your specific career path. For example, if you can only complete 15 credit hours a year it will take you four years to graduate. Some courses may only be offered once a year, so if your schedule isn't flexible you may have to attend an extra semester in order to take a single required class.
Potential Careers in Business Management with an Associates
Although most upper management positions in business require at least a bachelor's degree there are many lower positions you will qualify for once you earn your associate degree. Here are a few examples:
- Customer Service Associate:
You’ll handle complaints and returns, answer customer questions, provide information, and handle similar interactions with customers in a wide range of industries. Within larger companies, customer service associates are often promoted to human resource department positions.
Average Median Salary: $39,400
- Retail Department Manager:
You’ll oversee all employees within a specific department, handle product orders, track inventory, and interact with management to ensure your department works efficiently and runs smoothly. Typically, the employee in this position also writes the schedule for the entire department in conjunction with overtime constraints and employee seniority guidelines. Often promoted to assistant manager.
Average Median Salary: $43,400
- Administrative Assistant:
You’ll schedule meetings, field phone calls, manage incoming and outgoing mail and email, prepare invoices, and cover a wide range of other tasks in order to keep a business running smoothly; often promoted to office manager
Average Median Salary: $39,100
- Warehouse Supervisor:
You’ll oversee and maintain warehouse inventory by storing, receiving, and shipping it in a timely manner. Typically, employees in this position are responsible for hiring and supervising employees as well as maintaining security; may be promoted to warehouse manager.
Average Median Salary: $49,500
- Assistant Manager:
You’ll represent the company while supervising employees in all aspects of a business. Assistant managers are found in a wide range of industries and must be detail oriented and have verbal and written skills as well as leadership abilities and customer service skills.
Average Median Salary: $41,600
Options to Advance
Business management is one field where experience is as valuable as education. That being said, you should plan to continue your education if your long-term goal is a career in management. It's a good idea to earn your bachelor degree at least; if you plan to enter corporate management you'll need a master's degree to be competitive with others applying for the same positions.
If you are self-employed, an associate may be the only degree you need. That being said, you should still continue your education and take courses such as bookkeeping, business law, and business ethics that will help your business grow and stay on the right track. When enrolling in these types of courses, it's a smart plan to look at the big picture and take courses that can be applied to a degree program in case your future plans change.
Best Associate of Science in Business Management Programs
Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, Kentucky
With four campuses throughout the state, WKU is one of the best regional universities in the country. WKU offers a two-year program that includes 42 hours of business classes; this program is designed for students who plan to continue their education to the Bachelor degree level or higher.
- Associate's Degree in Business Management
The University of Toledo
Fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the University of Toledo was established in 1872 and is one of Ohio's 14 state universities. Business programs include a look at global business environments and business communications to fully prepare you to either enter the workforce or continue your undergraduate studies in a four-year program.
- Associate's Degree in Business Management
- Associate's Degree in Business Management Technology
Bay State College
Located in one of Boston's most desirable neighborhoods, Bay State has a unique business program in that it only offers a degree in administration on the Associate's level. This is designed to give the student a broader business education, allowing them to either enter the workforce or continue their education in a specialized program for a specific area of business management.
- Associate Degree in Business Administration
Portland Community College
PCC offers a program that includes office management, small business management, management principles, marketing, and accounting to fully prepare the student for positions such as management supervisor. As an applied science program, the electives are more restrictive to areas that focus on certain aspects of business management.
- Associate of Applied Science: Management
Sullivan University offers the expertise of their College of Business Administration (COBA) to give students an excellent foundation in business management, including personal interaction with local businesses both on and off the campus via seminars, business tours, lectures, and internships.
- Associate in Business
Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Business Management
Purdue University Global
West Lafayette, Indiana
Purdue offers two associate degrees in business administration, each designed to allow the student to gain a solid business foundation and enter the workforce while choosing an area of management concentration such as retail , small business, or office management.
- Associate’s Degree in Business Administration
- Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration
Stillwater, Minnesota (plus campuses in four other states)
Rasmussen offers Flex Choice learning so you can complete your associate's in as little as 18 months by combining self-directed assessments and competency-based education with traditional online coursework; all credits are transferable to their bachelor degree program.
- Business Management Associate's degree
Focusing on the issues facing small businesses, Sullivan offers a comprehensive program that can be completed in as little as 18 months. The program covers everything needed to enter the small business world and is fully accredited for transfer to a bachelor degree program.
- Associate of Science in Small Business Management
70 campuses throughout the nation
Strayer offers a quarter-term program that covers key areas of business management such as concepts, finance, ethics, and law and is fully accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Graduates are eligible for entry into the bachelor degree business management programs.
- Associate in Arts in Business Management
Herkimer County Community College
Herkimer, New York
Herkimer offers two distinct programs: one designed to allow the student to move immediately into management in the small business sector and a second choice in administration designed for transfer (by partnership agreement) to one of a wide range of four-year colleges.
- Small Business Management AAS
- Business Administration AAS
Business Degrees & Career Paths