Top Career Paths for Business Graduates

December 21, 2016 by Lindsay Racen

All around the nation, at public and private universities alike, graduation season is officially under way. After the speeches have been read, the tassels and caps have flown, hoods and stripes have been granted, the graduates and their supporters excitedly dream about what’s to come. This week, we’re celebrating commencement and the future ahead by exploring top career pathways for new business graduates, starting with stellar careers for those in business and professional studies.

U.S. News and World Report is not only the foremost authority of ranking universities, it is also a great resource for sharing the top careers in the marketplace today. Whether you’re finishing up your bachelor’s or master’s degree, consider some of these top career pathways.


For the Big Data Gurus 

A Market Research Analyst position is ranked first on the best jobs for 2014 due to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projections of an impressive 31.6 percent employment increase for this occupation between now and 2022. These experts study consumer habits and use their observations to formulate recommendations to companies on how to package, brand and sell products. They understand economies of scale and the complex rules of supply and demand, collecting and using data to drive decision making processes. Graduates of programs that study e-business strategic management or related concepts may find the perfect fit within this field. 

One of the reasons why this position is ranked so high in the standings is because it offers a high opportunity for upward mobility. It requires at least a bachelor's degree, and masters degrees only add to the possible career pathways. Records show that salary ranges from $33,280 on the low end for entry level positions to $113,500 for the seasoned professionals, with a median of $60,000. In terms of regional demand, California residents have an advantage as the top-paying cities for market research analysts include San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland. 

For the Finance Focused 

The demand for number crunchers doesn’t seem to be fading anytime soon. All of the newly trained finance and accounting experts out there are prepped for the future. The range of industries and positions that accountants can find themselves in is nearly endless. In addition to tax preparation for individuals, public accountants can perform auditing, provide consulting for corporations, nonprofits and governments. Businesses and organizations have internal personnel to create processes that refine lean fiscal operations, with the goals of eliminating waste and fraud. State and federal positions help maintain the structure of the American economy. 

Given all of these options for professional development it's clear why accounting positions are rated high for upward mobility. The Labor Department agrees by predicting that more than 166,700 new openings will be created in the taxes and accounts receivable fields from now to 2022. Salary ranges are similar to market research analysts, with a high of $111,510. Related positions landing in the top 10 include financial advisors and managers, bookkeepers and audit clerks. Look into getting a master's degree in finance online if you want to open new doors for yourself in the job market.

For the Marketing Minded

This one is interesting because depending on how different people measure career and life success, some may consider the Marketing Manager position to land higher in the rankings. It officially stands at number 7 on the list for business professionals, yet the salary ranges are high above the first place market research analysts, who most likely work under these high powered individuals. The ranking is probably due to the lower growth rate of 12.7 percent, still modest considering the flat lining health of other job markets. 

The marketing managers are the masterminds behind driving your purchasing process as a consumer. They touch the traditional advertising realm and today can often extend into the digital arena to promote brand messaging based on specific target audiences. The median annual wage for a marketing manager was $119,480 in 2012, with the best in the biz sitting on $160,810 annually. Although some with exceptional talents may land a job with just a bachelor's degree, most companies fill these vacancies with candidates that have an MBA or higher. Having an MBA will also provide more opportunity when it comes to finding international business jobs.

For the People Persons 

When interviewing for a job, some candidates like to use the phrase, "I'm a 'people person'." In the cases where this is undoubtedly true, you often find great organizational leaders and human resource managers.  Although not in the top 10, the Human Resource Specialist is securely rooted among the best jobs for business professionals at number 15, after all every organization relies on great people and leaders to survive and thrive. The daily routine for these hard workers can easily fluctuate, training specialists may perform tasks ranging from recruiting to answering employees' corporate wellness questions. 

Despite the overwhelming importance of these individuals in the business environment, their salary range is modest compared to other opportunities falling between $41,440 and $74,070. The BLS projects however a 15.5 percent employment growth in the field between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Human resources and team development positions are perfect not only for those MHR grads, but also those specializing in organizational leadership. These individuals truly are people persons who can help manage change and how the workforce handles it, an invaluable skill for advancement in today's ever-changing world. If you enjoy traveling and meeting new people, then consider getting an MBA in International Business.

Spotlight on MBA Grad Job Opportunities 

For those hooded business grads out there, CNN has put together a list of 15 employers searching for your knowledge and experience. Here is a quick glance at the top five.

  1. 28.38% of MBA's want to work for Google, headquartered in Mountain View, California
  2. 16.58% of MBA's want to work for McKinsey & Co, headquartered in New York, New York
  3. 14.82% of MBA's want to work for Apple, headquartered in Cupertino, California
  4. 14.41% of MBA's want to work for Amazon, headquartered in Seattle, Washington
  5. 12.19% of MBA's want to work for Boston Consulting Group, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts


Interested in a different field? Check out related career articles:

Top Career Paths for Education Graduates

Top Career Paths for Graduates of Nursing Programs


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