For anyone looking for a general understanding about the various business careers, this article provides an overview of accounting/finance, management, and marketing. Anyone trying to assess the different major paths of business people will find the following information useful.
There are a number of different ways to split up the business field: based upon sector, level of experience, size of business, and so on. This brief overview gives the primary functions, general talents, and career expectations of individuals in these roles. If interested, please find more specific information located elsewhere on this website.
Business careers in accounting and finance can look quite similar to anyone unfamiliar with the business world. While it is true that there is plenty of interaction between the two, they tackle very different aspects of business.
Accountants devote themselves to the tracking of a business's assets and income, whereas finance deals with the management of those assets. So they certainly work together, as accounting works to produce accurate data that is used by, for instance, the Chief Financial Officer, who then makes strategic management decisions based upon that information. Accounting is considered by some to be a major subset of finance.
Almost all major financial decisions are based upon the interaction and communication between accountants with financial officers. As a result, accounting includes a number of activities in addition to those most people are familiar with. When most people think of accountants, they imagine an office piled high with financial documents and calculators, but in the business world, accountants are consulted for business acquisitions, computing efficiency gains from new technology, and a range of other functions.
Business careers in finance include positions in commercial banking, real estate, private equity, money management, investment banking, hedge funds, financial planning, and corporate finance. These focus on decision making, managing and controlling, and financial strategy.
Additionally, computing technology has completely changed the way accountants perform their job functions, taking them from more computational functions to more strategic and analytical. Still analytical skills are a requirement, and those who genuinely enjoy mathematics will gain the most fulfillment from careers in these fields.
Though there are four main fields of accounting, including public accounting, consulting, forensic accounting, and auditing, entry-level positions are primarily available in public accounting. And many who are just starting out can begin work after two years of college. Working for a public firm does not often lead to impressive in-house promotions, but the training afforded allows for easy and lucrative job transitions to other, more specified positions.
Accountants are in short supply, as a rule. In fact, the number of accountants in the U.S. continued to grow in the economic downturn. That is a reflection of how important and necessary they are to the running of business.
Business careers in management are quite different in practice, from working one-on-one with individuals (as one would as a Human Resources manager) to emphasizing risk-taking and creative decision-making (as one would as an entrepreneur). However, reduced to its essence, management is the art of managing people.
Some examples of business careers in management include:
- General management
- Strategic planning
- Operations management
- Human resources
- All of these careers focus on the business management, which involves making strategic decisions that affect the company and its employees.
Many managers are attracted to the field because of the prestige and money associated with it. For instance, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is often the most highly paid individual at any given company. This is generally the case; however, there are certain sacrifices normally made for being at the top. Job security, for example, is not very high, as other people in the company are aiming for the manager's position; often, managers are subject to more lawsuits and risk than other employees, and they must also perform their duties with a scarcity of personal feedback and reinforcement.
Marketers devote themselves to the external relations of a company, whether that be advertising, public relations, market research, retailing, non-profit or product management. While these career opportunities vary more than any other of the other major business careers regarding the type of skills used on a daily basis, marketers most often focus on company image - strategizing what that the company brand should be to maximize profits, creating and maintaining that brand, strategizing distribution, or measuring effectiveness of campaigns. Marketing involves strategic communication at each point in the process, from strategy, to promotions, to sales.
There are a number of advantages and disadvantages in selecting a marketing career over the other two business careers listed here. Normally, marketers are free (and required) to use their creativity to succeed at what they do; however, there is a financial trade-off.
Again, this is just a general rule, as there are in fact a number of paths toward management in some degree; however, these positions are focused on external goals rather than internal.
Advantages of Business Careers
If you’re considering a career in business, then you should definitely know what you’re getting into. This article will give you half the picture, in terms of the high earning potential, the excitement, and the variety of business careers.
So let’s start with the high earning potential. Now, of course, the salaries of various business careers will be quite different, and they depend in large part on education and experience. Without an MBA, Human Resources Managers make $70,000 on average, while Operations Managers make closer to $80,000. Business Analysts make roughly the same amount, and Financial Controllers make closer to $90,000. These are all averages, which means that there will be plenty of cases where people are making more or less, but as an average salary for people with a college level of education, those figures are pretty difficult to beat. The benefits and perks also tend to be much better in business than in other fields. From company cars to 401(k)s, if you want it, business careers have it.
Beyond the lucrative salary, business careers also happen to be exciting. Again, let’s throw in a proviso here, because there are definitely some companies that no one would want to work for. But that is definitely not the average experience. Since communication is an important aspect of being a business professional, coworkers are generally charismatic, and everyone is earning enough in salary and benefits to make for a positive atmosphere in the workplace. On top of this, most managers have had some training in how to cultivate a positive atmosphere and maintain a high morale. Translation: your boss will have been trained to keep you happy. There is also the benefit of being part of a team that collaborates, works well together, and strives to achieve coordinated goals.
Not only are there positive aspects to the atmosphere and the salaries of the business world; the variety of the work itself increases the chances of finding fulfillment, whether in management, marketing, or finance. Since people spend most of their time at work, this fact is without a doubt the most important advantage of the business workplace. If you are not doing something you like, it does not really matter how much money you are making (beyond a certain point, statistics support a correlation between happiness and money up to about $60,000/year; but beyond that, more money does not increase happiness). The flexibility in job function within the world of business supports a wide variety of talents, predispositions, and idiosyncrasies, so that most individuals are able to find a role that they enjoy and are good at doing.
There really are some tremendous advantages to pursuing a career in business over other a career in other fields; it fulfills a number of financial and social needs. At the same time, it is not perfect, so be sure to check up on this article’s red-headed stepsister, Disadvantages of Business Careers, before you make any decisions!
Disadvantages of Business Careers
Business careers are great, but they’re not perfect. Like any other field, there are a few things everyone should know before they dive in. Business careers can be quite lucrative, exciting, and satisfying. Due to their significant advantages, they can also be highly competitive and stressful, and they require long hours.
These disadvantages are all related. They all feed into each other, and here’s why. Businesses want to hire talented people who will work hard for the benefits their job affords them. Because of this, these jobs offer high salaries and perks. This strategy works wonders in terms of attracting lots of talented people. And so it is no surprise that the application process can be pretty competitive.
However, there is a fairly large exception to this rule. Accountants and financial officers are needed everywhere, and their function is critical to whoever they work for. As a result, there are plenty of jobs available in these fields, no matter what the economy looks like. In fact, accounting and finance were two of the only fields in which the job market saw an increase during the recession.
But even once someone has a job, there is still a lot of internal competition. Management jobs, for instance, are particularly competitive, because executives are often paid the most. Consequently, there are a lot of employees who would like to advance to these positions, and questions of job security may arise. This can depend upon company culture. Some companies are more competitive than others, so it is possible to mollify the competitive edge by finding the right kind of company.
Additionally, the business world is not like academia. There is no such thing as tenure, and employees can be fired for poor performance. When the company does not make as much money as it needs, there can be downsizing. This means that no matter how well you perform, if your job function is not absolutely crucial for the company, you may not have a lot of job security.
Businesses tend to be extremely goal-driven. Employees are expected to reach specific objectives, and not necessarily on an individual basis; often, there are team goals. This can place a significant amount of stress on employees to perform, even if it is just to show their dedication to the company and to get an edge on the competition. In general, expectations are high.
Consider how much medical doctors work, or even college professors (pre-tenure); business people do not necessarily endure terrible hours by comparison. However, the main difference is that as one moves up the totem pole in business, the harder one is expected to work. In other fields, those on the bottom rungs work the hardest, and the people at the top can choose to take it easy. In business, some professionals may be paid more than anyone else in the company; however, for these individuals, work is life and life is work.
If you are interested in pursuing a career in business, then do not let this article discourage you. Simply read the article: Advantages of Business Careers, to improve your mood. It’s a bitterly competitive pill, but it comes with a heaping spoonful of sugar, at least.
Business Career Options
- Human Resources Manager
- Qualifications of Human Resource Managers - Education Versus Experience
- Financial Planner
- How Much are Financial Planners Expected to Earn?
- Securities Analyst
- Manufacturing Manager
- Payroll Administrator
- Technology and Business Careers
- Technology Consultant
- Prospects and Educational Requirements for Technology Consultants
- Hospital Manager
Last Updated: 08/20/2013