Are you a people person with a mind for numbers? It’s a high-paying area– one of the best-paying, actually– that offers strong opportunities for motivated, hard-working individuals who look at the big picture. Business administrators should be able to: understand the mechanics of the marketplace and how those relate to the individual workplace; have the foresight to plan the operations of a company over both the long term and the short term; organize and oversee large numbers of subordinate employees; and figure out the right employees for the right positions within an organization. If you think you’re up to the challenge, business administration could be your path to success.

The Business Administration Degree

In the past, business administrators didn’t get degrees. Rather, they got to where they were through hard work, experience, and self-education. To a certain extent, this is still true. There are plenty of top administrators out there who, through a combination of brains, entrepreneurial drive, and good luck, wound up at the top of their game. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, both Harvard dropouts, are two stand-out examples of administrators who didn’t rely on a college education to get them to where they are today. For the vast majority of administrators, an accredited program is the key to success.

Unfortunately, the bachelors degree has now become a bare minimum for aspiring business administrators. Traditionally, this was in business or related field, such as economics, finance, accounting, or marketing. Nowadays, the bachelors in business administration (BBA) is an increasingly popular degree for those entering the world of administration.

Many view the master’s in business administration (MBA) as a fast track to the upper echelons of the corporate world. MBAs find work in a wide variety of fields, not just in more traditional roles, but in all areas that require someone with business expertise, ranging from non-profits to Internet startups. For working professionals, MBAs are often available outside of traditional classroom frameworks as well.

A number of top schools have begun offering coursework or whole degrees online. As a theory-based learning apparatus, it’s eminently teachable online. Furthermore, since many busy professionals are seeking additional education, there’s a high demand for online and night classes as well as traditional programs. Each program will have different approaches to online education, but most will feature tutorials, take-home tests, and will use of forums and video chat as a way to simulate a classroom atmosphere. Others will feature regular classroom meetings, albeit on a less regular basis than in traditional classes.

Business Administration Careers

As mentioned earlier, those with a business administration degree end up in a wide variety of fields. However, most wind up as managers (in some capacity) or working in business and finance. These are both high-paying realms. At present, the mean salary for the management occupations in the United States is $105,440 per year, or $50.69 per hour. The most common places for managers to work are companies and enterprises (employing 350,000 managers in the US), K-12 schools (303,000), local government (283,000), institutions of higher education (190,000), and hospitals (180,000). The highest paid managers, unsurprisingly, work in the fields of securities and commodities exchange, in the motion picture industry, and as talent agents. New York, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have especially well-paid managers, with each of these areas having a 20% higher mean wage in the management occupations than the national average. The states with the most managers are California (778,000), Texas (458,000), New York (393,000), Illinois (300,000), and Florida (224,000). The population of managers is heavily concentrated in urban areas, with especially strong concentrations in the New York metropolitan area (271,000 managers), Los Angeles (210,000), Chicago (198,000), Washington (189,000), and Atlanta (147,000).

Outside of the world of management, many MBA and BBA graduates find work in other capacities in business and finance. Keep in mind that in the following statistics, there is significant overlap between these two realms. In the world of business and finance, the mean salary is $67,690 per year, with an mean hourly wage of $32.54. Generally, BBA and MBA graduates will, however, end up in managerial positions with higher average salaries. Business and finance includes large numbers of employees in the executive branch of the federal government (517,000 employees), the management of companies and enterprises (383,000), accounting services (367,000) and insurance carriers (344,000). Much as in the management occupations, talent agents and those working securities and commodities exchange are the highest-paid employees in business and finance. High concentrations of business and finance employees are found in California (748,000 employees), New York (428,000), Texas (428,000), Florida (373,000), and Illinois (313,000), with especially high-paying positions being available in the District of Columbia, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia. Metropolitan areas with large numbers of employees in business and finance are New York (305,000 employees), Washington (227,000), Chicago (222,000), Los Angeles (202,000), and Atlanta (138,000).

Management employment did fall off somewhat during the recession that began in 2008. Finance employment was hit especially hard as Wall Street was forced to reform itself in light of increasing public scrutiny. However, as the economy continues to recover, business administrators are finding positions readily available, and the world of business management can expect strong growth in the next few years.