Business administration is a general field of study that helps you be more productive in an office environment or while working to run a business. What you learn in a business administration course could be summarized this way.
You learn how to do the activities that enable businesses and other organizations to operate successfully when you study business administration. Subjects include accounting, financial management, human resource management, marketing, planning and team management.
With the help of subject examples, let’s explore what it means to study business administration and how a course could boost your career.
The Term Business Administration is Not Well Understood
What do you learn in business administration? What reasons would make you choose to study business administration? What is a business administration degree all about anyway?
If you’re thinking about studying business administration and don’t know exactly what the term means, you’re in good company. This field of study has blurred boundaries. Most people probably have their own, slightly vague interpretation of what business administration refers to.
We are writing this after examining various types of business administration courses. They ranged from short training programs to MBAs. Here are some observations about what business administration studies are all about.
Simple Definition of “Business Administration” Studies
Here is a simple definition.
To study business administration is to learn skills for working in an office or business setting.
The one common element in every type of business administration program is that you learn skills to help you be productive in an office or business environment. Whether you examine how to schedule a meeting or lead organizational change, you gain skills that could be useful to almost any business with staff.
The various skills can easily be adapted to different workplaces, which may explain why business administration is considered a general course of study and relevant to many career paths. Students are not trained to do one particular line of work. They instead develop a selection of skills that are valuable to most organizations.
Business Administration Covers Tasks, Systems and People
Something else you should be aware of is that business administration is doing office-related tasks as well as managing systems and people. A business administrator might be responsible for keeping financial records or purchasing good and services. But they could also have the roles of managing payroll and human resources or developing team communication strategies.
Every degree in business administration is somewhere on the spectrum from 100% technical training through to 100% teaching of soft skills and people management. This reflects that, for a business to run effectively, operational systems need to be managed as well as the people who do the work.
Understanding that business administration consists of both technical and human elements is important when choosing a course of study. Very different types of courses come under the business administration umbrella.
You should be clear in your own mind about what kind of course would best advantage you. Do you want to study business administration to learn technical skills, soft skills or a combination of both?
Business Administration Subjects
With such a vast scope of activities that could be considered business administration, the range of subjects that might be included in a course is almost endless. To give you an idea of the kinds of skills you can learn, let’s look at the subjects available in both basic training and MBA courses.
Example subjects in a training course
Here are actual examples of units available for a Certificate III in Business Administration. As you can see, the subjects generally aim to build practical office administration skills.
- Write simple documents
- Design and produce spreadsheets
- Organize schedules
- Deliver and monitor a service to customers
- Maintain financial records
- Purchase goods and services online
- Process customer complaints
- Use business technology
- Process accounts payable and receivable
- Organize workplace information
- Produce texts from notes
- Organize personal work priorities and development
Example subjects in an MBA program
The following courses are examples from the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. As you can see, the emphasis is on leadership skills, communication, and making decisions based on analytics.
- Leadership: Foundations of Teamwork and Leadership
- Marketing: Marketing Management
- Microeconomics: Microeconomics for Managers
- Statistics: Regression Analysis for Managers
- Management Communication: Speaking and Writing
- Operations Strategy
- Dynamic Marketing Strategy
- Impromptu Speaking and Elements of Story for Business
- Financial and Managerial Accounting
- Corporate Finance
- Managing the Established Enterprise
- Legal Studies and Business Ethics
Why Choose Business Administration as a Major?
The number one reason for choosing a business administration major is to increase your general value as a worker. The major gives you a lasting uplift in your worth to employers. Whatever direction your career may take, you will always carry skills that can be productively applied.
From the subject lists, we can see how the discipline could help you land your first office job. For entry-level positions, someone with a business administration qualification has a demonstrated skills edge over someone without this kind of training.
For every step up the office hierarchy, there’s a business administration degree program that can give you a competitive advantage. An associate degree or bachelor’s degree provides access to at least entry-level professional positions. For supervisory, directing and leadership roles, you could do a graduate degree such as an MBA that imparts business management skills.
Right Time to Study Business Administration
You should consider studying business administration if the next step in your career doesn’t require a specialized skill set that you don’t have yet.
- For example, if you want to be an accountant, you need an accounting qualification.
- To be an engineer, getting an engineering degree is probably a good idea.
- If a high level of specialization is not essential however, business administration might well be the best choice for your next course.
Any office worker or professional – including qualified accountants, engineers and many other professionals – can benefit from a business administration course. You gain knowledge and a qualification to boost your career prospects all round.
Business administration graduates possess highly transferable competencies. Communication skills, human resources management training, critical thinking, project management and business skills can be useful to almost any organization. So, the time to study business administration is when you want a general uplift and expansion of your skillset.
Jobs You Learn How to Do
Business administration skills are valuable for almost any office job and you’ll see business administration graduates employed in countless different roles. Nonetheless, certain occupational groups are a natural fit for the sorts of skills you acquire from a business administration program. Here are examples.
General office duties and record keeping
If you complete a business administration course below degree-level, you’ll qualify for all-purpose roles in settings such as medical or legal receptions, retail stores, schools, HR departments, and government offices. Job titles include administrative assistant, executive assistant, legal administrative assistant, medical records administrator, business office coordinator, and HR administrative assistant.
With an associate degree or higher, career opportunities extend to professional roles where you’re in charge of a team or certain business operations. Job titles include business manager, business development officer, assistant director, human resources manager, and sales manager. Employment of managers grows about as fast as overall employment, and is projected to increase by 9% over the 10 years to 2030 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Learning leadership skills is synonymous with Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs. MBA graduates gain a competitive advantage in going for leadership positions such as business consultant, business development manager, entrepreneur, general manager, operations manager, and chief executive officer (CEO).
Start Your Own Business
Have you been wondering how to start your own business? Since small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, you may be thinking about pursuing a degree in business administration to learn more about economics, the free market and running a business.
While many people start successful businesses without a business degree, some students believe the lessons and tools such courses offer can help inspire new ways of thinking about a potential career in business. Universities and colleges run business administration programs at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels that can definitely help with starting a business.
Courses may cover topics such as management theory, macroeconomics, innovation practices, funding and finance, sales, marketing and business planning and development. These topics will allow you to get a working knowledge of the various aspects of running a business.
- History of Business: This topic generally covers the evolution of business and enterprise practice leading up to and since the Industrial Revolution.
- Ethics: Business ethics describes the ethical and moral issues that arise in business environments.
- Macroeconomics: Distinguished from microeconomics, macroeconomics covers the economy as a whole rather than individual markets. Topics can include a nation’s income, international trade, finance, unemployment and inflation.
- Innovation: Subjects include brainstorming, critical thinking, problem-solving, troubleshooting and techniques in research and development.
- Funding and Finance: This field can cover how business plans are financed by a variety of channels, how to work with investors and how to find nontraditional means of financing businesses.
- Sales and Marketing: Sales and marketing covers how to grow a business or sell a product for a profit as well as various marketing strategies and techniques.
- Business Planning: Planning covers how to develop a successful business plan that would structure a business function and potentially attract investors for funding.
Beyond these fields, a degree in business administration can be a helpful part of learning how to start your own business. These degrees often help students decide what they want to do, how to develop a plan and how to effectively communicate to managers, investors and employees to help them realize their business goals. You gain critical thinking skills to overcome key challenges.
By preparing students for the day-to-day challenges in various business fields, business administration degrees have remained a steady and popular focus of study in American academics over the past several decades. In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, business administration is the most popular post-secondary major in the United States and the greatest number of bachelor’s degrees is conferred in business fields.
While a business administration degree is not required to start your own business, it can provide a strategic advantage and get you ready to enter the business world.
Online Programs for Working Professionals
An interesting feature of graduate business administration programs is that they’re widely available online and designed for working professionals. Students can conveniently fit part-time, online study around a 9 to 5 (or similar) full-time job.
The reality is that experienced professionals generally don’t want to take time off work for study, due to the financial cost and potential delay to career progression. Online programs allow busy people to build business administration skills on terms that suit them.
Online graduate programs also take advantage of the background and working status of students. Especially for subjects on leadership and business management, program participants are asked to relate what they’re learning to their professional experiences.
The reflective approach to learning leadership skills makes the lessons very real. As a further benefit, you gain practical skills and strategies that you can implement immediately in your workplace.