Whether you're considering an online college or an on-campus experience for your professional training, choosing a career path can still feel like a huge risk. Researchers at the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov) predict that these 10 careers in business offer stronger growth prospects than many other job categories over the next few years. See our programs page to learn more about online business colleges.
- Accountants and Auditors: After what seems like a decade of financial scandals, job prospects look good for professionals who know how to scrutinize money trails for public corporations, government agencies, and not-for-profit organizations. Bls.gov anticipates a 16 percent increase in employment for accountants and auditors by 2020, in reaction to demand for stricter compliance. Accounting majors at Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business immerse themselves in courses on ethics and culture, as well as in the fundamentals of tracking cash. Examples of more specialized courses that students can take include federal income tax, cost accounting, accounting systems, and business modeling with spreadsheets.
- Computer and Information Systems Manager: No longer siloed within the technology industry, companies of all kinds now hire full-time information systems managers to oversee complex, custom network installations. Bls.gov projects an average 18 percent growth over the next decade for IT managers, due to businesses upgrading their technology and, specifically, their mobile networks. High growth and opportunities for career advancement can make this career path attractive to students across the country. At the University of Florida, students at the Heavener School of Business can pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an Information Systems concentration. Instead of a typical information technology degree, graduates of this program can gain management skills along with technical savvy. Students who wish to further their business and technology education can look into the school's combined bachelor's and master's degree program in Information Systems and Operations Management.
- Cost Estimator: As the American economy recovers from the effects of recession, a variety of businesses need help from cost estimators to ensure their projects can get to market on time and under budget. Cost estimators determine whether projects can generate profits, and bls.gov anticipates job growth of as much as 36 percent for the career over the next decade. As noted in bls.gov, majoring in statistics is one potential education path for this career. The Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver offers a statistics major for students in its Department of Business Information and Analytics. The program helps students learn how to make effective, data-driven decisions in business and potentially even medicine. The school also offers a minor in statistics for those who want to supplement their education in subject areas such as business information technology and economics.
- Financial Advisor: According to a Gallup Poll conducted in the Spring of 2013, fewer than a third of Americans expect Social Security to make up a "major source" of their retirement income. Bls.gov reports that this shift helps to drive the expected 32 percent growth in demand for personal financial advisors through 2020. Educators at Texas Tech University have embraced this career trend, offering an undergraduate degree in personal financial planning. Students working towards this degree can take courses in a variety of business subjects, including accounting, communications, and family studies. The program also helps prepare students for the CFP certification exam, a career milestone that can increase one's job prospects in financial advising, according to bls.gov.
- Financial Analyst: Bls.gov estimates that American companies will employ as many as 23 percent more financial analysts over the next decade to match the growing demand for these professionals. Employers often require candidates to have a bachelor's degree in finance or a related subject area to qualify for employment. Undergraduates in Babson College's Finance Division can choose one of four paths to help focus their careers in business: corporate advisory, corporate financial management, real estate, and investments. These learning paths can provide students with a specialized skill set that could help them while on the job. Students may also advance their finance knowledge through a number of seminars featuring guest speakers throughout the academic year.
- Financial Examiner: By ensuring that banks and other major financial institutions can withstand risk, financial examiners can play a pivotal role in regulatory compliance and fiscal security. Bls.gov anticipates a 27 percent increase in the number of jobs for financial examiners by 2020, and earning an accounting degree may be the pathway to taking advantage of that growth. Accountancy majors at Bentley University in Massachusetts take courses in federal taxation, auditing, and financial reporting that can help prepare them for the everyday responsibilities of a financial examiner. Electives in fraud examination and internal audit can also help prospective examiners build relevant skills for the career.
- Human Resources Specialist: Recruiting, payroll, benefits management, and even employee counseling fall within the scope of most human resources jobs. A New York Times report highlighted the growing trend among small and medium-sized businesses to outsource their H.R. operations to specialized firms that employ teams of seasoned experts. As a result, bls.gov expects a growth rate as high as 55 percent for human resources specialists who work for employment services companies. Across the entire specialty, statistics point to an overall growth rate of 22 percent, still faster than the average for all occupations. The Psychology Department at Lewis University helps students meet industry demand with its B.A. program in Human Resource Management. Students build practical skills in recruiting, interviewing, and professional development. The school also offers SHRM Certification programs for those who want further recognition of their proficiency in human resources.
- Management Analyst: The rise of "big data" enables companies to make smarter decisions about how they run their businesses. However, researchers at the McKinsey Global Institute predict a shortage of up to 190,000 professionals with analytical skills by 2018. Bls.gov estimates that demand for dedicated management analysts could grow by 22 percent by 2020, as companies strive for greater efficiency and cost control. Students at Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business can focus on project management, problem solving, and decision modeling through the management consulting major. Electives on leadership, human resources, and innovation can help graduates round out their data-driven decisions with sharpened instincts.
- Market Research Analyst: While technology can be incredibly important for business operations, it can't sort mountains of data into actionable business recommendations. That's the role of the market research analyst, a specialty that bls.gov expects will grow by as much as 41 percent over the next decade. Students in the Marketing Major at the University of Georgia's Terry College of Business immerse themselves in market research analysis when preparing for potential careers in sales, marketing, and communications. Students in the degree program explore such topics as social media marketing, buyer behavior, and econometrics. The school's Master of Marketing Research program allows students to further their skill set with hands-on projects and advanced courses in marketing research.
- Survey Researcher: Survey researchers design surveys and collect information that market research analysts often analyze. Demand for high-quality research data has led bls.gov to predict growth of about 24 percent in this occupation over the next decade. Students in Missouri State University's marketing research program learn how to analyze meaningful data, meet information requirements, and understand consumers. The school currently offers an array of general and specialized research coursework, such as Consumer Market Behavior and Research Issues and Problems: Marketing, that can help students build an expertise in the field.
When thinking about questions to ask an academic adviser, consider whether some of the raw traits and skills necessary for these rising careers overlap with your personal interests. Employers seek talented workers with diverse interests, allowing you to add even more value at a new job when you blend professional training with unusual personal experiences.
Accountants and Auditors, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Business-and-Financial/Accountants-and-auditors.htm
Computer and Information Systems Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm
Cost Estimators, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/cost-estimators.htm
"Income, Age Key Factors in Retirement Funding Expectations," Gallup Economy, Jeffrey M. Jones, May 20, 2013, http://www.gallup.com/poll/162605/income-age-key-factors-retirement-funding-expectations.aspx
Personal Financial Advisors, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/personal-financial-advisors.htm
Financial Analysts, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-analysts.htm
Financial Examiners, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/financial-examiners.htm
Human Resources Specialists, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Business-and-Financial/Human-resources-specialists.htm
"When the H.R. Office Leaves the Building," The New York Times, Phyllis Korkki, Dec. 1, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/02/jobs/more-companies-are-outsourcing-their-human-resources-work.html?_r=0
"Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity," McKinsey Global Institute, James Manyika, Michael Chui, Brad Brown, Jacques Bughin, Richard Dobbs, Charles Roxburgh, Angela Hung Byers, May 2011, http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/business_technology/big_data_the_next_frontier_for_innovation
Management Analysts, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm
Market Research Analysts, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm
Survey Researchers, Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/survey-researchers.htm