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What is a Business Administrator?

A business administrator is generally responsible for making decisions and overseeing all aspects of business operations and activities, ensuring things run efficiently. Their job may include supervising staff while focusing on a number of different areas such as marketing, finance, and accounting.

Professional business administrators do a little of everything necessary for running a business smoothly. They often serve on the governing council, an organization’s board, or as an intermediary between the employees of the company, customers, and stakeholders to coordinate operations that will help the business to thrive.

Other duties of a business administrator may also include budgeting, answering telephone inquiries, staff training, HR tasks, administrator support, staff meeting facilitating, record-keeping, writing and organizing documents, developing an organizational system that others will follow, and to keep lower and upper-level management informed of updates and other company information.

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Steps to Becoming a Business Administrator

Start by earning a business administration associate’s degree that only takes two years. With this degree, you might find yourself working as a project coordinator or an office manager.

After obtaining your associate’s degree you can go another 2 years and earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration, which will supply you with the tools needed for management or administrative roles. After earning your bachelor’s, you can go another year or two and obtain an MBA where you will step right into a leadership position such as a CFO or CEO.

Business administrators often need to have some sort of previous business experience. If they don’t need it to get into their master’s program, then they certainly will to advance to an administrative position. You’ll likely need to start out at a lower position within a company to gain the necessary experience to move up into an administrator position. If you get into the workforce with a bachelor’s, you may be able to join the administrative side of a company right after finishing your graduate degree.


Step 1: Start Preparing in High School

A high school diploma or GED may be sufficient for some entry-level positions. In fact, O*Net OnLine found that 39% of individuals working as administrative assistants have nothing more than a high school diploma. However, we're reaching for top business opportunities, therefore, get a head start by taking classes in high school to develop skills that would be an advantage to a business administrator, such as economics, advanced mathematics, computer applications, social science, business office skills, English composition, communications, speech, and more. Some don’t know this, but there are college courses that students can take during high school to prepare for college.

Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

If you can get a decent job with only a high school diploma, imagine what you can get with an associate’s degree, or even better yet, a bachelor’s degree. Consider the differences between holding an associate’s degree and holding a bachelor’s. One major difference between the two courses is completion time. An associate’s degree only takes 2 years to earn where a bachelor takes 4 or more depending on the courses you take. Another big variation is employment opportunities, you are limited to what you can do with an associate’s degree and you’ll need a lot more experience to gain access to higher administration positions. Whereas a bachelor’s degree unlocks the doors to a wide array of occupational choices and the jobs you can land with a bachelor’s degree tend to pay higher wages as well.

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Step 3: Consider Internship to Gain Some Experience

Internships provide students with many benefits, such as: it allows you to experience what a job is really like with hands-on training, it helps you to gain some much-needed experience while attending college which looks great on a resume, helps to determine whether or not you want to continue pursuing a career in the field, you get to work with real industry professionals that will show you the ropes and answer any questions you may have about the occupation, and you will learn a lot about the positions while gaining essential skills needed to thrive in the business industry.

Step 4: Improve Your Standing with Certification

While certification is not a requirement in the business administration area, you should really consider it, as it has many advantages. These include: getting certified puts you ahead of the rest, it will help raise your starting pay as many employers will be thrilled to have such a motivated person work for them, and you learn a lot while attending these programs.

Once you have gained some experience, you can obtain these recommended recognized credentials:

  • The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), offers the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) certification that covers topics like communication, records management, and planning. To qualify you must have 3 years’ experience with at least an associate’s degree or 4 years’ experience without a degree.
  • The International Virtual Assistants Association’s (IVAA) provides the Certified Virtual Assistant (CVA) certification program to IVAA members.
  • You may also want to pursue a masters or a Master's in Business Administration to advance your career as a business administrator.

What Does a Business Administrator Do?

Having a career in business means you will never be out of employment opportunities as the demand is high for business degree holders and there is always room for advancement in the field. Making your way up the ladder of success can be both challenging and rewarding for those who are motivated.

You might start out in an entry level position working in hospitality, sales, office administration, operations management, or retail working for a business with a few colleagues or a large company that has thousands of employees. Business administrators are usually involved with leadership dynamics, international relationships, ethics, new innovations, and more.

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To be more specific, here are some possible job duties of a business administrator:

  • Supervise and oversee a company’s budget and financial activities
  • Consult with coworkers, board members, executives, and more about their policies and operations
  • Apply new technologies while innovating in the workplace
  • Identify new ways to cut costs, improve performance, and enhance programs.
  • Appoint managers, department heads, and staff
  • Develop and maintain organizational goals
  • Negotiate and approve agreements and contracts
  • Analyze sales reports, financial statements, and other indicators of performance

Some typical areas of work include general management, hospitality management, office administration, operations management, retail management, and sales management.

Business Administrator Skills to Acquire

Business Administrators are expected to handle a variety of challenging situations while being in two places at once - or at least making it seem that way. In the business profession, gaining new skills could lead to higher positions.

Five most suggested skills:

  • Problem-Solving
    Business administrators spend lots of time solving problems at work. Whether there are coworkers brawling, a shorted delivery, or a leaky office pipe, they find sensible solutions for everything.

  • Technology
    It’s essential that business administrators keep up with technology by knowing how to use programs, including databases, spreadsheets, and word processing programs like Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

  • Communication
    Great communication skills — both written and oral — are vital to this occupation as you will be interacting with industry professionals, clients, and associates by speaking face-to-face, over the phone, via video chat, or by messaging through texts, email, or correspondence letters.

  • Organizational
    Being unorganized wastes time that could be spent on more productive actions. Business administrators think on their toes. If you don’t organize, you will waste time searching for things, or trying to get things straightened out later.

  • Time Management
    Business administrators value punctuality and know how to juggle their time. They use calendars or planner software to keep schedules, get reminders, and more. Even when issues arise unexpectedly a business leader will simply recalculate their time and continue to move forward.

Alternative Paths

You can pursue an undergraduate degree in business administration, or you can enroll in a trade or vocational school and get certified as a business administrator in as little as a year.

Why does it take four years in college to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration, when it only takes one year to get certified as a business administrator at a trade school? The truth is, when you are enrolled in any college degree program, you are almost always required to also take general courses as well as the courses needed for your career choice, which is why it takes so long to earn your degree. Trade schools focus on one thing only, your career. Therefore, all of the courses in vocational school pertain to specific occupations. Vocational schools also cost much less than college degree courses. In fact, trade schools charge just a fraction of what colleges and universities charge for tuition and other fees. However, the lack of breadth in the schooling is the deciding factor for certificate holders without degrees earning less in similar positions to degree holders.

Another route you could take is to earn an associate’s degree and select some certificates to obtain. Your associate’s degree combined with certification in specific areas, along with experience, should be sufficient for many rewarding careers in the business or administrative industry.

Business Administrator Career & Salary

Where Might You Work?


A Business degree holder has many employment options. This is why more students choose to pursue business degrees than any other area. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, from 2005 to 2006 nearly 1.5 million bachelor’s degrees were awarded and, of those, 318,000 were in business. That was almost double the number of degrees awarded in other study fields.

You would think that, because there are so many individuals graduating with business degrees, obtaining employment would be quite challenging, but the truth is, holders of business degrees are in high demand since every business needs administrators to run successfully.

Not only do you have a vast array of occupational choices, but you also have the advantage of working for numerous companies and organizations that can include a small business of ten to twenty employees or a large enterprise with thousands of staff members. You may find yourself working for a department store, the government, law enforcement, or maybe even for yourself when you start your own business.

Potential Career Paths

Many students choose to major in business because they’re not sure what they want to be, and a degree in business can lead to many opportunities. In the business industry, you can find employment with any type of degree, an associate’s, bachelors, or other.

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One thing to keep in mind is that, when evaluating applications, an employer will almost always choose the candidate with the highest education. Moreover, the higher the degree the more an employer may be willing to pay.

Accountants analyze and compile account information to prepare liability, asset, and capital account entries. They also audit documents to substantiate financial transactions, recommend financial measures after analyzing accounts, and enter account information to document financial transactions.

Sales Managers
Sales managers lead a sales team while providing them with training, guidance, and mentorship. It is also their job to set sales goals and quotas, analyze data, create sales plans, build a team, and assign sales territories.

Marketing Managers
Marketing managers oversee developing, implementing, and executing marketing plans for either the entire organization or departments within organizations in order to retain existing customers and attract new ones. They may promote one or more products while also leading a team of marketing assistants.

Training and Development Managers
Training and development managers develop and operate training programs for employees and ensure that all staff is well trained according to company standards. They also assist employees in learning and developing new skills, then work together with coworkers to fulfill the company’s needs.

General and Operations Managers
The operations manager is a leadership role that involves overseeing the provisions of services and/or the production of goods. They are responsible for ensuring that things are running smoothly while providing an efficient service to meet the needs of the clients and customers.

Human Resources Managers
HR managers perform a wide variety of tasks to fulfill their job duties, which include leading their organizations' human resource department, along with their programs and policies that apply to employee relations, benefits, staffing, compensation, safety, scheduling, performance, and more.

Financial Managers
General duties of finance managers include monitoring accounts, reviewing financial reports, directing investments, preparing financial forecasts and activity reports while also developing strategic ways to increase profits, and analyzing markets in search of new business opportunities such as acquisitions, mergers, or expansion. In addition, they may work diligently with the management team while working at hotels, banks, insurance companies, and other establishments.

Logisticians coordinate and analyze a company’s supply chain, which includes the entire system that passes the product from the supplier to a consumer. The entire life-cycle of products is managed by logisticians including how a product is produced, stored, and delivered.

Cost Estimators
Cost estimators analyze data that they collect to get an estimate of materials, money, labor, and time required to construct a building, manufacture a product, or provide a service for a specific product or industry they specialize in.

Business Administrators Career Salaries

Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Accounting Manager $58,000 $76,000 $71,000
Supply Chain Manager $62,000 $86,000 $95,000
Budget Analysts $51,000 $66,000 $78,000
Human Resources Generalists $47,000 $58,000 $60,000
Labor Relations Specialists $50,000 $73,000 $76,000
Logistics Manager $50,000 $66,000 $77,000
Purchasing Manager $51,000 $67,000 $78,000
Administrative Services Manager $54,000 $62,000 $69,000
Director of Operations $64,000 $86,000 $113,000

**Salary info provided by PayScale

Career Outlook

The field of business administration is highly competitive, but degree holders can be proficient in a variety of areas such as strategic management, finance, marketing, counseling, human resources, change management, sales, and accounting.

Workers in business occupations assist companies with day-to-day business functions. Among the majority of business occupations, from 2016 to 2026, marketing specialists and market research analysts are expected to have more job openings on average each year.

In 2016 there were 9.6 million workers who were self-employed. By 2026, the BLS, expects this number to rise to 10.3 million, which is a 7.9% growth rate that is just a bit faster than the projected 7.4% rate for all workers.

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From 2016 to 2026, business and finance self-employed workers can expect 56,800 new job openings. Between 2012 and 2021 the BLS estimates social assistance, healthcare, and business services, at almost 9 million jobs, will have the most openings of all industry sectors.

Benefit of Business Administration Certification

The good thing about a business degree occupation is that there is always room to advance your career and move up the ladder of success. Also, no matter what degree you have earned, there are always more ways for you to further your education. For example, you can earn voluntary credentials with certification programs, obtain licensure by enrolling in a state licensing program, or if you already hold an associate’s degree, go for a bachelor’s, or if you hold a bachelor’s, shoot for a master’s - the higher the degree the more wages you will earn.

An example of this can be seen in the below table showing salary earned with a bachelor’s degree compared to that of master’s degree earnings along with industry growth percentage.

Major Bachelor's Salary Master's Salary % Job Growth
Economics $55,965 $73,665 6%
Finance $55,609 $70,957 7%
Human Resources $52,313 $73,212 9%
Marketing $52,988 $86,318 15%
Hospitality Management $48,607 $93,350 8%

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