High salary potential is probably at least part of the reason you’re considering earning a business degree. The median wage for business and finance occupations is $68,350, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and business professionals who work their way up to management roles enjoy a much higher median salary of $104,240. While these high salaries can tell you what to look forward to in terms of future job compensation, you can’t expect to earn wages in this range when you are just starting out. Students fresh out of college with no or little professional experience will have to begin their careers in entry-level roles in fields like consulting, analysis and specialist and associate-level positions.
Business as One of the Highest-Paying Majors
Although you probably won’t be earning anywhere near six-figures as a new graduate, you can feel confident in your degree choice knowing that business is one of the highest-paying college majors at both entry-level and mid-level career stages. Researchers found that only STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and health beat out business majors when it comes to entry-level pay rates. By the mid-career point, the median wage for business majors had overtaken that of health majors, making business second only to STEM in terms of earning potential.
The entry-level median wages reported in the survey were $43,000 for STEM majors, $41,000 for health majors and $37,000 for business majors. On the opposite end of the spectrum, humanities, arts and liberal arts majors saw a median wage of just $29,000.
A $37,000 median salary might not sound so impressive, even at the entry-level, but there are certainly job opportunities out there for new business graduates that offer better pay. Consulting roles are among the best-paying options for entry-level workers, according to Business Insider. The median salary for entry-level management consultant roles, as posted on professional networking website LinkedIn, is $74,300. For consulting analysts, who have similar job duties, the median wage is $75,000.
An entry-level role in the mid-$70,000 range might seem too good to be true, but in certain industries and geographical locations, it’s not out of the question. The overall median wage for management consultants is $83,610, according to the BLS. High-paying industries such as professional, scientific and technical services pay median wages of $89,370, so it’s within the realm of possibility for entry-level roles in this industry to pay as much as $75,000 – especially in regions where demand and wages are exceptionally high.
How does a new graduate become a consultant? First of all, you will probably start out in a lower-level role like junior consultant or associate consultant. Through on-the-job training and opportunities to learn from experienced consultants, you will develop your skills. When you apply and interview for entry-level consultant roles, you can draw from the skills you learned in the classroom and any internship or co-op experiences that allowed you to practice those skills in a real-world business setting.
The highest-paying states for management consultants, also called management analysts, are New York, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., Virginia and New Jersey. Median wages for the occupation in these states are much higher, ranging from $105,680 to $111,040.
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Entry-Level Analyst Roles
Many business roles revolve around analysis. Business professionals analyze everything from financial performance to investment opportunities, from market conditions for new projects to risk involved in extending a loan. Analysts are particularly in high demand in the field of finance. Among the highest-paying analyst roles in business are equity research analyst, with a median wage of $79,500, and investment banking analyst, with a $105,000 median. Again, junior analyst roles may be your best bet at getting your foot in the door. Job hunters should know that some of these high-paying entry-level analyst roles expect at least one to two years of full-time work experience, even though they are listed as entry-level opportunities.
In a general sense, the role of a junior business analyst is to create reports of trends in sales and other quantitative aspects of business under the direction of established business analysts. Many analysts work in finance, insurance and professional and technical services.
Specialist and Associate Roles
When starting your job search, looking for roles at the associate level will help you find opportunities that are more in line with your current level of education and experience. Development associate and marketing associate are two common entry-level job titles. You can also look for specialist job opportunities. While specialist doesn’t necessarily imply entry-level, it is a non-managerial role. Many specialist jobs require only a bachelor’s degree to get started and have no precise experience requirements.
Jobs like human resources specialist, communications specialist, marketing specialist, social media specialist and event specialist are all possibilities for new business graduates.