Enjoy managing people? If so, an online business management degree may be a great major for you. Managers specialize in guiding and motivating people. They staff, appraise, train and place employees in an effort to boost workplace productivity. Students of online business management degree programs learn how to sharpen their problem-solving skills and deepen their critical thinking abilities.
Degrees in business management can lead to vastly different careers for different professionals. Managers work in every industry, including both the private and public arena. Salaries and job growth vary by sector. Sales managers—who generally need just a bachelor's degree—can rake in nearly $99,000 a year. Administrative services managers can make up to $78,000. Experience, along with an online degree, will help you move up.
THE CAREER PATH
Professionals who earn an online business management degree are not limited to any one industry or position. Business management is a highly flexible major that will lay a strong foundation for work in most sectors and industries. Sales, marketing, healthcare, IT, engineering, retail and manufacturing are a few common fields.
Careers in business administration and business management are very similar. The key difference is who is following and who is leading. In many situations, business administrators tend to be the followers, that coordinate their departments or services to meet the objectives and goals that are set by the leaders. Business management professionals, on the other hand, tend to be the leaders in most organizations. Business administration tends to be very broad, offering potentially the widest variety of options for professionals to develop their skills in areas such as marketing and finances. In contrast, business management tends to focus more on the authoritative aspects of business that incorporate many facets of logistical operations, communications, and leadership. Top business management positions include:
- Sales Managers – Sales managers typically work in their industry of choice to direct organizational sales teams, set sales goals, analyze data and trends, and develop training programs for sales representatives. The usual responsibilities of sales management professionals include projecting sales and determining the profitability of products and services, developing plans to acquire new clients through direct sales, cold calling, and business-to-business marketing visits, and resolving customer issues regarding sales and service.
- Human Resources (HR) Managers – The role of managers in HR is typically to oversee the planning, directing, and coordinating of HR department activities and staff. They serve as the link between top executives and employees, and may be the person who delegates activities related to employment, labor relations, and training. HR managers can oversee entire HR departments for smaller organizations, or they may fall into management categories including labor relations, payroll, or recruiting/staffing managers.
- Advertising, Promotions & Marketing Managers – Generally speaking, communications managers are responsible for planning programs that will generate interest in products or services offered by their organization. The types of tasks that these managers perform include estimating the demand for a particular product and/or service and assessing similar supply by competition, identifying potential market opportunities for an organization, and working with sales, PR, and product development staff in order to develop pricing and promotional strategies that maximize profits and market share while satisfying clients.
- IT Managers – IT managers serve to connect businesses and organizations with the technology that allows them to meet their goals and to thrive. While the general concept of IT management is consistent across the board, there are a few options available for those who are interested in these types of careers.
- Chief Information Officers (CIOs) determine goals and strategize the appropriate implementation of technology in order to meet those goals.
- Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) design, evaluate, and recommend the appropriate technology solutions for an organization.
- Information Technology Directors run the logistics of an IT department, such as the finances, employees, and activities.
- Information Technology Security Managers oversee network and data security protocol, threats, and investigations.
- Top Executives – Top executives are the professionals that we typically think of when we hear the term “CEO” or “director.” For many business professionals, becoming a top executive is the ultimate goal. The top executive is typically the “boss’s boss,” who devises strategies and policies, as well as plans, directs, and coordinates operational activities to ensure than an organization meets its goals. Different types of top executives may perform different responsibilities depending on the scope of the organization that they run:
- Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) are sometimes referred to as “executive directors,” “managing directors,” or even “presidents;” they provide overall direction for organizations by managing operations, policies, and goals.
- Chief Operating Officers (COOs) typically oversee other executives who direct activities of various, specific departments and carry out the organization’s daily guidelines.
- General/Operations Managers oversee operations that are too diverse and general to be classified into a particular area of management.
As the generation of baby boomers continues to age into retirement, the demand for qualified management professionals is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. The exception to this boom in growth will be for Chief Executive positions, which are among the most competitive and highest paying occupations in the United States, and which are expected to see a decline in demand in the next decade.
Occupations in management tend to be some of the highest paying jobs in general—the average salary for each of the management positions listed above is upwards of $100,000. However, the salary does tend to fluctuate dramatically between positions and organizations and that type of compensation occurs after many years of experience.
WHO IS THE IDEAL CANDIDATE?
Much like degrees in business administration, business management is broad enough to allow developing professionals to change the course of their career over time as necessary. Professionals can customize their career path to specialize in areas that suit their lifestyle, goals, and interests.
The most successful business management professionals are problem-solving, decision-making leaders, with a strong set of communication and management skills. They are prepared to think critically, and to set a positive example for the many different professionals of their organization.
WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR?
The online business management degree is best suited to those who seek a broad education that will allow them flexibility when choosing their career sector. It is also a solid general major for managers who have been in the field for some time and want to roll up their studies and life experience into one marketable degree.
Most online business management degree programs focus on core courses in the principles of management, strategic planning and the psychology of the workplace and human motivation. Expect a common core study plan to include courses in business law, statistics, ethics, human resources, organizational behavior, economics, cost accounting and strategic planning. Expect courses in this online major to focus more on the human side of business and less on the operational side of commerce. Electives often cover the more operational or quantitative side of commerce—finance, logistics and advanced accounting.
Related online degree programs and majors include business administration and management. In choosing among these programs, consider your career goals. Compare course plans. The business administration degree often includes a harder core set of studies in the quantitative side of business—economics, calculus, logistics, finance and advanced accounting—than any management major.
Most positions in business management require competitive applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Some advanced positions may require a master’s degree, and all management occupations require extensive experience in the field on behalf of the applicants. Graduation from an AACSB-accredited school can be a plus in a competitive sector but can also come with a higher price tag.
The average cost of a four-year online bachelor's in business management is just over $53,000 in the United States, but many options under $30,000 exist. An online master’s in management can cost an additional $23,000, on average. However, our rankings reveal that most affordable master's in management programs cost less than $10,000.
Make sure to thorougly research the programs you are considering to get the most bang for your buck. Some programs may include benefits such as internship opportunities or certification courses that may help offset degree cost.