Business and economics are among the most sought degrees in universities across the world. The business sector is unmistakably the largest in the world based on the extensive business practices in the society. This is true in the sense that all other sectors incorporate some degree of business in their operations. As such, the demand for graduates of business or other related subjects continues to grow as time goes by.
A business degree comprises of several other sub-disciplines whose aim is to equip students with the relevant theoretical and practical knowledge. Business degrees are either classified according to the level of study or the subject being studied. With regard to the level of study, a business degree can be either undergraduate, graduate or professional. On the other hand, the subject categorization is quite extensive and it includes both direct and supplementary areas of study as follows: accounting, marketing, human resource management, finance, sociology, management sciences, fashion management, modern languages, entrepreneurship, sports management, computer sciences, law, economics, quantitative techniques, strategic management and sports management.
A business degree takes three to four years to complete at the undergraduate level, and a maximum of two years at the graduate level. At the undergraduate level of study, students are introduced to these subjects to build their understanding of the business world. Besides shaping their understanding of business, these subjects assist in preparing business students for the graduate level where they specialize in specific areas as opposed to a general mode of study. The graduate level also allows for flexibility as the students are in-charge of choosing their specialty with regard to their interests. Despite the changes that occur at every level of study, the concept of studying business degrees is the same. For instance, all business degrees focus on using theoretical knowledge in practical situations. This transition is facilitated by the numerous problem-solving tasks, case studies and projects, the critical emphasis on teamwork, and the exposure to internships and other placement arrangements.
Requirements for Entry
Entry requirements may be different depending on the country or the program being offered by the institution. In the United States, the standard requirements are a High School Diploma and a good GPA (Grade Point Average), coupled with extensive mathematical skills. In the United Kingdom, most business programs require an applicant to have good GCSE and A-level results for them to qualify. Other general skills required are an interest in pursuing a business course (expressed in a personal statement or in an interview) and good leadership skills (leadership is a very critical skill in the business sector).
Pursuing a business course can be very exciting especially for individuals with an interest to participate in a challenging yet collaborative environment. The business world is far more interesting and equally challenging than it is depicted in the movies. However, this characteristic is not the only reason people study business. When business students are asked about their reasons for pursuing business degrees, most of their answers are centered on the career aspect. One of the reasons behind this is the extensiveness of a business degree. As discussed earlier, some of the elements that supplement a business degree may not be the ordinary subjects that one would assume. For instance, fashion management is a business course that an individual passionate about fashion would pursue, most likely because they are interested in becoming fashion designers and the like. As such, choosing a business career is more about chasing one’s dreams than it is about wanting a white collar job.
The most common business careers are the typical financial and accounting jobs that most business graduates opt for. Other areas that are as highly populated with business graduates are advertising, business consultancy, sales and retail, marketing and human resource management. Other areas of business that graduates can build careers in include bank management, insurance underwriting, trading, consumer production, investment banking, distribution and logistics management, public relations and accounting. Entrepreneurship is also a viable business career that is slowly becoming the norm. In the modern world, business corporation are flooded with business graduates such that there is no longer space to hire more. To avoid unemployment, most business graduates have decided to utilize their skills to build their own startups and provide job opportunities to a myriad other graduates.
Salary Expectation for Business Graduates
The huge earnings accorded to business specialists are another reason why individuals opt to pursue business degrees. Like in several other careers, one’s earnings increase as their career progresses. This is to say that the more one acquires knowledge and skills to improve their expertise, the more their value increases. Therefore, business graduates should focus more on expanding their knowledge and skills to build their opportunity for earning a huge salary. Some of the starting salaries for various business career fields are as follows :
Average Starting Salary
Human resource management
Accounting and Finance
Business and Economics
As the career progresses, the salary increases. The average starting salaries for business graduates at the graduate and professional levels are higher. For instance, in the United States and Canada, business graduates at the graduate level earn an average of $116, 300. This amount can vary depending on one’s specialization.
Skills obtained from a Business Degree
As mentioned above, a business degree is multidimensional with reference to the different areas of study it encompasses. Some of the basic areas of knowledge that a business student is required to master include customer service, marketing, financial operations, business policy, information technology (IT) and communication and strategy. At the introductory level, the concepts taught are those applicable at the international level. However, as one specializes in specific areas, their application is narrowed down to specific regions for complete mastery. It is mandatory for business students to master certain skills as they are essential in the daily business operations of numerous fields and they are as follows:
ü Strong written and oral communication skills
ü Logical thinking
ü Effective time management
ü Problem solving
ü Decision making
ü Report writing and presentation skills
ü Analytical and critical thinking
ü Resource and project management
ü Excellent numeracy
ü General research skills
ü Independent learning that enhances one’s ability to plan and meet deadlines
ü Proficiency in IT skills required in business (using software such as Excel and PowerPoint)
ü Basic-level financial analysis such as the making and interpretation of a balance sheet
Economics is majorly described as the theoretical and practical science that deals with how wealth is produced and distributed. It focuses critically on the production, and sales and purchases of goods and services. Its primary concern is the relationships between people and the society and the behaviors they exhibit. In its real world application, it centers on evaluating the interactions between the society, the government and the markets. The discipline is classified into two subdivisions: macroeconomics and microeconomics. The former refers to the study of a country’s economy or an entire market while the latter focuses on the dynamics between industries and people. Like business, understanding economics is also dependent on several other subjects studied either directly or as supplementary elements such as law, sociology and geography among others.
What to Expect
Similar to business, an economics degree at the undergraduate level takes three to four years, and one to two years at the graduate level. The degree can be studies in a classroom or as an online course. The course material may vary depending on a student’s interest. If a student chooses to study a BSc economics, they are equipped with theoretical mathematics and statistics knowledge that is applicable to economic theory. This course option is recommended to students interested in understanding today’s world through a mathematical perspective and is therefore supplemented by mathematics and other science-based subject areas. On the opposite side, a BA economics course option enhances a student’s understanding of economics using qualitative study methods and is supplemented by subject areas like psychology, languages and politics. At the undergraduate level, economics students (both BA and BSc) are introduced to the same core subjects. As the course progresses, they diverge to their different areas of specialization but maintain their focus on understanding economic theory through empirical research.
Requirements for Entry
Knowledge in mathematics is central to economics and thus, to get into any economics program, good mathematics grades are essential. Economics is also a social science whose main focus is to understand real world aspects that include people and the government and therefore, a background in history and politics is also a bonus. This is because knowledge in either subjects provides a foundation for economics students to learn critical elements that shape the world around us as well as the systems that control it. Other subjects that are worth studying to obtain a background understanding of economics include physics, languages and management sciences. A student may also consider undertaking economics as a subject if the school offers it as it makes the transition easier.
The variety of skills acquired from studying economics enables flexibility when it comes to careers; economics graduates can work in a variety of fields. An economics graduate is able to deal with numbers and at the same time can use their knowledge to solve other real world problems using innovative techniques. The study of sociology as a subject makes it easy for economists to interpret the world’s problems, analyze them and develop effective solutions. One of the areas that most economists practice in is the banking and accounting sectors, facilitated by their vast numerical knowledge. Additionally, most positions in the financial departments of different organizations are held by economic graduates. Other roles played by economists are those of financial and budget analysts, actuaries, urban and regional planning consultants, political scientists, survey researchers market research analysts, and mathematicians and statisticians.
The role of actuaries is to examine the financial cost of uncertainty and risk and incorporates knowledge in the financial theory and mathematics respectively. Economists working as actuaries conduct the analysis and come up with containment measures that enable business enterprises to develop policies to counteract the risk and minimize the financial costs. The role of an actuary is important in the insurance sector. On the other hand, a financial analyst guides businesses and their owners in making decisions about what investment to make by evaluating the performance of various investment types. Additionally, a budget analyst provides private and public institutions with financial organization assistance in terms of budget report preparations and monitoring of institution expenditures. Market research analysts are tasked with studying market conditions, assessing potential product and service sales by examining the target audience and their needs, and communicating this information to organizations.
Further, mathematicians and statisticians examine data and utilize statistical and mathematical techniques to develop solutions for real world problems in various sectors such as health, education and business sectors among others. Economists also pursue careers in politics, research and planning. For instance, economists can work as political scientists and take up the role of researching political ideas and evaluating government policies and political trends among others. In research, economists are responsible for carrying out surveys and analyzing the collected data to understand people’s perspectives and how they these perspectives shape their lives. Finally, economists may take up urban and regional planning and work towards creating land plans with the aim of facilitating population growth in communities and revitalizing social amenities in various areas. Due to their multidimensional aspect of an economics degree, it is also not uncommon to find economists working in other fields like the environment, health, education, gender and immigration sectors.
To fully become an economics expert specializing in the economics field, an individual should consider furthering their studies by obtaining a master’s or PhD in the specific field. This is because specializing on a graduate or professional level is more advantageous in terms of researching an area of interest, acquiring unique skills and landing a good job with even better earnings. Famous economists range from world leaders, business moguls and celebrities some of which include Meg Whitman, Warren Buffett, Kofi Annan, Lionel Richie, Arsene Wenger and Arnold Schwarzenegger among others.
The startup salary for most economic graduates at the undergraduate level averages $59, 450. The median annual wage for economists is about $105, 020 as explained from this article. However, these figures are not the same for every economist; they vary depending on the field of specialization and more importantly, the level of expertise. The following are the median annual salaries for economic graduates: economists working for the state government earn an average of $73, 400; finance and insurance economists earn $120, 770; economists in the scientific research field and those offering developmental services earn an average of $114, 140; and those working for the federal government earn an average of $119, 580.
Skills Obtained from an Economics Degree
Economists acquire several skills during their study facilitated by the wide array of subjects taught. Regardless of whether an individual pursues BA economics of BSc economics, the following skills are essential to an economist both during the period of study and in their careers :
· General research skills
· Critical thinking and analysis
· Excellent negotiation, influencing and persuasion skills
· Extensive problem-solving skills
· Excellent oral and written communication skills
· General IT skills with a keen interest in software packages like Excel
· Excellent report writing and presentation skills
· Effective time-management to facilitate meeting of deadlines, which is crucial in economics careers
· Great knowledge of current affairs
· Ability to interpret of complex data sets
· Ability to define and understand situations and issues from multiple perspectives
· Teamwork skills
· Construction of solid arguments
· Strong mathematical background that makes it easy to conduct statistical and numerical analysis.