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What Can You Do With a Degree in Business Administration?

Business administration is a branch of study that focuses on commercial functions of businesses. It has a broad coverage and encompasses the disciplines of finance, marketing, operations, information systems, and human resources. Since the degree is eclectic, a graduate of business administration has a lot of options for employment.  Here are some of the major career choices:


As the very word suggests, the nature of the job is focused on banking. It is the banker’s task to oversee financial activities and deal with clients, which can range from individuals to big corporations.  A first year personal banker’s base salary at banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America start anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 a year.  However, as you move up and manage individual clients with higher net worth, that number can increase dramatically, especially after including bonuses.

Private bankers make a more lucrative salary with a starting salary anywhere from $60,000 to $70,000, before bonuses.  As you progressive as a private banker, salary can be MUCH MUCH more.  But expect to work your butt off for the first few years on the job.  Private banking is extremely cut throat and competitive. 

Business Risk or Management Consultant

A consultant’s task is to determine any difficulties or problems that a certain enterprise is likely to face. He is responsible for evaluating the possibility of financial loss and detecting a corporate threat within a certain establishment.  As a business risk consultant, you will likely do a lot of traveling to other companies to consult with them.  Some of the bigger consultancy firms out there are KPMG, Deloitte, Accenture, Bain, PwC (Price Waterhouse Cooper), and Ernst & Young.

If you are a consultant at one of the big firms named above, your starting salary with just an undergraduate degree will be around $60,000 to $75,000 per year, excluding signing bonuses (which can be upwards of $10,000).  If you graduated with a graduate degree or an MBA from a top school, you will get a starting salary of $125,000 to $135,000, excluding bonuses (which can get upwards of $25,000).

Read what the life of a consultant is really like.

Go here for a full list of salary figures at the top consulting firms.

Here are salary figures for a management consultant courtesy of Glassdoor.

management consultant salary

Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

A business administration graduate can take certification examinations so as to be a qualified financial planner, a professional who works with customers and helps them meet their short-term and long-term financial objectives.

In order to work as a certified financial planner, you will need to get a few years of experience in financial planning first.  The CFP certification test requires you to have three years of full-time relevant personal financial planning experience, or two years of Apprenticeship experience before getting certified.  However, the requirements can easily be met just by working at a bank as a personal banker.

Once you become certified, you can officially call yourself a officially—and CFPs salary start anywhere from $40,000 to $50,000 in terms of base salary, excluding bonuses.  According to CNN Money, the median pay for a CFP is $89,500.  However, you can earn much more than that with experience, or by starting your own financial planning business.   The field is expected to grow 32.1% in the next decade.

Commercial Lender/Commercial Loan Officer

A commercial lender is tasked mainly on issuing business loans that require collaterals (e.g. real estate assets).  The average  salary of a commercial lender is $61,000.  However, we can expect the starting salary to be less.  As with other jobs on this list, the salary figure excludes bonus and commission.

Compliance Analyst

A compliance analyst’s job is to ensure that establishments and firms adhere to federal laws and regulations. and comply with industry standards.  Compliance analysts work in all kinds of sectors, from banking to insurance to health care.  In terms of salary, compliance analysts at Pimco make the most with an average salary of $70,370 according to Glassdoor, followed by Prudential with $58,844.  But according to USNews, the best 10% of management consultants will earn an average of $97,760 (as of 2012) where as the lowest made $35,730 (also as of 2012) according to the BLS.  According to the BLS, the job is expected to grow 27% by 2020.  The job is also ranked #71 on CNNMoney’s 100 Best Jobs in America as of 2013.

Here is a look at the average salary of compliance analysts at different enterprise-level companies.

compliance analyst salary

Contract Negotiator

When you work as a contract negotiate, you are paid to serve as a middleman between two parties, so that they can reach agreeable terms.  Contract negotiators will often negotiate with other businesses or governments on the behalf of their respective company.  Contract negotiation is in the field of defense, aerospace, and health care.  The average salary of a contract negotiator at Lockheed Martin is $61,673 (according to 11 reported salaries at Glassdoor) and the average salary at a contract negotiator at Raytheon is $69,333 according to 3 reported salaries.  Another perk to being a contract negotiator is that you will get to travel a lot to negotiate your contracts.

Contract negotiators isn’t too big of a career field but it is a well-paying field you can consider right out of school.


Many companies like to take young prospects straight out of school to put them on a management path by putting them in rotations first so they can learn all aspects of a company.  The salary of a manager will depend solely on what level of management you are at and what company you are with.  However, in order to increase your chances of becoming a manager, prior work experience in the sector and strong management coursework is recommended.

E-Commerce Manager

With the popularity of internet and social media marketing, E-commerce managers are becoming more and more in demand. This job entails the development and maintenance of websites of commercial industries.

Economic Analyst/Business Analyst

While an Economics major usually takes this title, a business administration can obtain this job as well. An economist is in charge of studying of resources such as land, machinery, labor ,and materials for the production of items and services.  However, with just a bachelor’s degree, your chances of getting a economic forecasting job are next to nil.  However, you can be an analyst, either economic-specific or business-specific.  If you want to work for the CIA, they are also hiring economic analysts. 

Marketing/Advertising Manager

A lot of business majors decide to go into marketing and advertisement after college.  Marketing managers track and analyze market trends, study products and services offered by competitors, explore ways of increasing profitability by improving on existing products, as well as a plethora of other responsibilities.  Advertising managers on the other hand create and manage ad campaigns, thinking of creative advertising methods to boost profitability within the company.

A lot of the marketing and advertising is now done online so if you want to get into this field, it may be a good idea to know how online advertising and public relations work.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a marketing and advertising manager is $119,480 in the United States, whereas the average salary is $129,870, with the top 10% earning $160,810.  The median salary of an advertising and promotions manager is $88,590.  So it i safe to say that, according to the BLS, marketing managers get paid better.  Of course, these are median and average numbers, and are in no way an indication of a starting salary in the field.

Financial Analyst

A financial analyst researches macroeconomic and microeconomic metrics along with company fundamentals to make decisions on company products and services.  To get into this field, you will need a strong economics and math background so be sure to take lots of it while getting your business administration degree.  According to the BLS, financial analysts make a median salary Of course, that is an average number and is in no way representative of a starting salary. of $76,950 with the top 10% of financial analysts making over $148,000, excluding bonuses.  The financial analysts at the bottom of the pay scale make an average of $47,130 a year.  The average salary of a financial analyst is $89,410 as of 2012.

Here is a chart showing the mean (average) salary of a financial analyst from 2004 to 2012.  As you can see, financial analyst salaries were at a peak during 2008, right before the great recession hit.  Now the salary is making its way back up to 2008 levels.

financial analyst

Forecast Analyst

This career is all about making proposals and budgets, as well as establishing forecasts with regard to financial concerns and matters. With these, a firm can make the best decision for its current position.  A forecast analyst examines production speed as well as supply and demand of product and services in order to derive a company’s optimal output level (production level).  Much like a financial analyst, a forecast analyst will also need to analyze and follow trends in the market.  A forecast analyst will also need a strong background in math and economics.  According to Glassdoor, a forecast analyst will earn an average salary of $58,952 at Lowe’s.

Human Resource Manager

An integral part of every organization, a human resource manager is responsible for overseeing a company’s personnel department. He is in charge of screening applicants, interviewing them, and executing the entire hiring process.

If you are business savvy and possess good communication and interpersonal skills, you should consider business administration for a college degree. With its numerous career choices, you are sure to find a niche where you can reap rewarding financial returns.

The field of human resources is growing 13% by 2022, about the average pace.According to the BLS, the 2012 median pay for human resource managers is $99,720.  Of course, if you are starting your career, you most likely won’t be a human resource manager, you would likely start at the bottom; the median salary for a human resource specialist is $55,930.  For specialists in the 75th percentile, the salary is about $74,070.  And for those in the bottom quartile (the 25th percentile), the salary number is $41,440.  So even if you are in the 1/4 quartile of the field, the pay is still pretty decent.  Although there is upward mobility, there is quite a bit of stress to the job and the schedule isn’t quite as flexible.


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