Did you think an MBA was required to score a hot business career? Not so. Check out these six bachelor-based business careers.
When it comes to pursuing a hot career in business, you may think you need a master's in business administration (MBA) to join the pinstriped, corner-office crowd.
And if you have yet to get your bachelor's degree, that MBA threshold can seem especially daunting.
But before you trash your suit and tie dreams, along with your plans for going back to school, you should know that there are plenty of exciting, in-demand, business-related careers that require no more than a bachelor's degree.
"Attaining an MBA is not always necessary to build a great business career," says Laura Labovich, president of The Career Strategy Group, a full-service career consulting firm. "In fact, getting a bachelor's degree in a specific area that fills employers' needs, and an area that you're passionate about, can take you a long way."
On that advice, we spoke to various experts, and backed up their information with research from the U.S. Department of Labor. So read on for six growing business-related careers that don't require more education than a bachelor's degree to pursue.
Hot Non-MBA Career #1: Human Resources Specialist
2010 to 2020 Growth:* 21 percent, or 90,700 new jobs
Companies are realizing that one of their most valuable assets is their staff. And, keeping them happy, motivated, and loyal demands the skills of great a human resources team, says Beverly Morgan, partner and general manager with WinterWyman, a national recruiting firm.
HR specialists do things like recruit, screen, interview, and place workers, says the U.S. Department of Labor. They also might train workers, explain benefit or incentive programs, and even ensure that all human resources functions comply with regulations, the Department of Labor adds.
Morgan says these skills need not be attained in an MBA program, but are in high demand. "Organizations understand that a good HR professional can empower their employees, keep retention at an all-time high, and have the recruiting skills to hire the best talent. Without a strong HR organization, the morale, culture, and turnover will affect the overall success of any business," she says.
Education Options: Most human resources specialist positions require a bachelor's degree, says the Department. For example, most employers prefer applicants who have a bachelor's degree in business, human resources, or a related field for human resources generalist positions, says the Department.
Hot Non-MBA Career #2: Public Relations Manager
2010 to 2020 Growth:* 16 percent, or 68,300 new jobs
Public relations (PR) has changed dramatically in the past decade, says Phil Dunn, president of Synapse Services Co., a web technologies and marketing company. Nowadays, he says, PR managers need to be all about social media, blogging, videos, and other fast-paced, techie ways to get messages out. "The ones who really know social media these days have great careers," says Dunn.
PR managers create and maintain a good public image for their clients, and help clarify the organization's point of view to its main audience, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Dunn says that companies and clients care more about your skills than any master's degree. "They want to see high-quality content and coverage in social media," says Dunn. One traditional trait they do want is interpersonal skills, however. "Good PR can start with a back and forth conversation on a topic or some good data to move on," he says.
Education Options: According to the Department of Labor, only a bachelor's degree in public relations, communications, or journalism is generally required. However, as of 2010, 25 percent of PR managers held master's degrees.
Hot Non-MBA Career #3: Accountant
2010 to 2020 Growth:* 16 percent, or 190,700 new jobs
Accountant may not be the sexiest job in town, but it has two big things going for it, says Deb Hornell, a business and management consultant with 25 years of experience: It's going to be in demand in the business world as long as businesses need to manage money - and it doesn't require a master's degree for a decent paying position.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, accountants do everything from preparing and examining financial records, to assessing financial operations so companies can run more efficiently.
"Accountants are absolutely essential to all business. It's an infrastructure thing: they are part of the foundations of successful businesses," Hornell says. And after the scandals of the past decade or so, accountants are needed more than ever to ensure proper accounting methods and ethics in business, she adds.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.
Education Options: Most accounting positions require a bachelor's degree in accounting, or a related field, says the Department of Labor. Some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a master's degree.
Hot Non-MBA Career #4: Market Research Analyst
2010 to 2020 Growth:* 41 percent, or 116,600 new jobs
No, that 41 percent growth prediction is not a typo; the U.S. Department of Labor says the career of market research analyst will be very hot over the next decade. Why? Big data - the massive amounts of information on customer and population trends that companies have been accumulating - needs to be analyzed in order to pay dividends, says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., a global outplacement firm.
Specifically, market research analysts crunch data and tell companies who will buy their products, in what regions, and at what price, says the Department of Labor.
"For example, retailers for the holiday season are monitoring their traffic flows hour by hour, store by store in much more depth than ever before," says Challenger. This way they can fine-tune their staff, their products, and their stock, to maximize profits and minimize loss, he says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Business Program.
Education Options: Market research analysts typically need a bachelor's degree in market research, or a related field, says the Department of Labor. However, many have degrees in fields such as computer science, math, or statistics, while others have a background in business administration, communications, or one of the social sciences. The Department adds that many market research positions require a master's degree.
Hot Non-MBA Career #5: Financial Analyst
2010 to 2020 Growth:* 23 percent, or 54,200 new jobs
It first happened with the computer revolution, after which every company had a computer or IT guy. Now, it's the finance person that's in just as high demand, says Anthony P. Carnevale, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce.
Financial analysts assess the performance of stocks, bonds, and other investments to help businesses make sound financial decisions, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
"Financial structures are now so complex that every company needs their own finance person or department," says Carnevale. He says that finance is one of the fastest growing areas in the economy because of its penetration and importance to virtually all business sectors.
Education Options: The Department of Labor says financial analysts typically have bachelor's degrees in areas such as finance, accounting, business administration, economics, or statistics. A master's degree is required for advanced positions, the Department notes.
Hot Non-MBA Career #6: Personal Financial Advisor
2010 to 2020 Growth:* 32 percent, or 66,400 new jobs
With the large population of baby boomers planning for - or reaching - retirement over the next decade or so, personal financial planning is in high demand right now, and for the foreseeable future, says Labovich.
Personal financial advisors help people with important financial decisions, like stocks, bonds, and other investments, taxes, and insurance, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Though personal financial advisors do not need an MBA to succeed, they do need interpersonal and analytic skills, as well as a solid business or financial education, says Labovich. "They're making decisions about your money. This is what is going to let you have an easier retirement, put your kids through school, have another child. These are the most important things, so it's an in-demand job," she says.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Finance Program.
Education Options: Personal financial advisors typically need a bachelor's degree, says the Department of Labor. And though they say employers don't always specify a particular field, they do say majors that provide good preparation are finance, economics, accounting, business, mathematics, or law.