When it comes to the world of business, a degree can mean a lot, especially at the beginning of your career. Business degrees often have the most utility for obvious reasons, but not every business degree has a clear cut career path laid out for you. An accounting major can get started working towards their CPA license not long after graduation, and be set up in their own office in just a few years. But how does this work when it comes to business management degrees? As it turns out, there are a few options available for business management majors who are just getting started, giving you a bit more flexibility as to which path is right for you.

General Managers

General managers are one of the most common management positions available, while also standing as one of the most complex. They can be found everywhere, from the fast-food restaurant around the corner to the biggest Wall Street firms—although the required knowledge might vary a bit. As a general manager, or operations manager, you’ll be responsible for keeping things running at your workplace in just about every dimension, from handling employees and scheduling to dealing with clients and assigning work. A good general manager can help employees to stay on target for deadlines without micromanaging their every move, trusting in them to get their work done while keeping tabs on their progress.

To find a position as a general manager, a bachelor’s degree is almost always required, and a degree in business management can certainly help you stand out amongst those with less relevant degrees. Work experience in a field relevant to the business can be beneficial as well, though it isn’t always needed. General managers can sometimes work their way up to even greater positions, such as regional managers for companies with multiple offices or locations.

Departmental Managers

In larger companies, it becomes important to have individuals take charge of each area where your business needs to operate, and that’s where departmental managers come in. Departmental managers have a narrower focus than general managers, and may need more specialized knowledge as a result. Common departments within companies include sales, marketing, finance, and human resources, among others, and each one is going to need a leader to handle their particular problems and concerns. There are commonalities between these—all departmental managers will handle budgets for their department, and manage the staff working under them, for example. Each department will have its own concerns, however; the sales manager will frequently interact with clients and customers, particularly those who are dissatisfied, while the HR manager will predominantly interact with employees and job applicants. 

Almost all departmental manager positions are going to require a bachelor’s degree at minimum, and may prefer candidates who have experience in that department. If one of these areas of business appeals to you, taking on a minor or even just a general focus within your management degree may be beneficial. If that’s not an option, working in your chosen department for a few years will likely provide much of the necessary knowledge and experience, opening you up for the management positions your degree best suits you for.

Project Managers

Project managers see the progress of a particular project through from inception to completion. Projects can be long-term, but by definition must have a clear endpoint that will eventually be reached. By keeping their focus small, project managers are able to develop the project at a faster rate, since their time is completely dedicated to it rather than the everyday needs of the business, which the general manager attends to. Be it a product or campaign or something else entirely, a project will be guided by the project manager, who will set deadlines, goals, and milestones that the project team must reach. They carefully balance the overall cost, completion time, and scope of the project in order to ensure the end result is satisfactory, affordable, and ready when needed. For those who enjoy novelty and shaking up their work routine, there are few jobs better suited than this.

Because their projects can be almost anything, the precise educational needs of a project manager can be difficult to set, but a degree in business management can prepare you better than most any other. Project managers often need a history of successful projects in order to find work, but project manager certification through organizations such as the Project Management Institute can go along way. A relevant bachelor’s degree, such as one in business management, makes that certification much easier to obtain.

Start Your Own Business

None of the above seem like a good fit for you? Fortunately, a business management degree also provides you with most of what you need to know to found a business of your own. While a business owner’s job will likely have a lot of overlap with the responsibilities of a general manager, particularly early on in a business’s life, the owner won’t have to report to anyone at the end of the day. You could also become an independent management consultant, who works for other companies on contract to help them increase efficiency and locate problem areas that slow down day-to-day operations. While experience in the business world can be very helpful for both of these options, there won’t be anyone above you demanding that you meet specific qualifications, either.
Those looking for a career in business management might be surprised to learn just how many options they have, and how necessary their degree actually is. Whether you prefer a general focus or have more specialized interests, there’s a business management career out there which could be just what you’ve been searching for. Even those who prefer a regular change of pace, or who would rather work independently have options. If you’ve got a business management degree and aren’t sure how to enter the workforce, consider giving one of these career paths a go. If you don’t have a degree, but find yourself intrigued by the possibilities, it’s never too late to earn one! Either way, the career of your future is waiting only for you.

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