Earning a business degree can be a significant investment. The key to maximizing that investment is knowing which areas of business offer the highest salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for business and financial occupations was nearly $72,250, which is significantly higher than the median annual wage for all other occupations. In fact, it is almost double. In this article, we take a look at popular business degrees that offer the best return on investment and convert into high wages.
Reviewing the Top 10 Highest Paying Business Degrees
After consulting the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) – Occupational Outlook Handbook, we determined the highest paying business degrees based on the most current information and data published. Below are our results for the top 10 highest paying degrees in business.
#10 – Human Resources – Master’s, MBA, or Bachelor’s in Human Resources
Employees, also known as human capital, are the most important assets to any organization. A human resources degree teaches students to effectively manage personnel relationships as well as the policies and procedures that establish a healthy work environment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for a human resources specialist is $63,490, which is over $20,000 more than the median pay of $41,950 for all occupations. Also, BLS reports that the highest 10 percent of earners in this occupation made more than $109,350 per year. Top paying industries for HR specialists include professional, scientific, and technical services; government; and manufacturing.
The role of an HR specialists covers a wide range of duties. In addition to managing organizational relationships, human resources professionals manage important aspects of the employment cycle, from hiring new personnel to overseeing medical and retirement benefits. Courses within a human resources degree program may include business communication, business ethics, compensation and benefits, and management principles.
Overall, the job outlook for HR specialists remains stable through 2029. In fact, employment for this occupation is projected to grow 7%. Most employment growth is anticipated in industries like professional, scientific, and technical services.
#9 – Marketing – Master’s, MBA, or Bachelor’s in Marketing
Marketing has always been a critical aspect of any organization seeking to acquire and maintain customers and stakeholders. Without effective marketing in a consumer-based economy, it is difficult for organizations to survive. Because marketing is an essential function for nearly all organizations, the positions typically pay well. BLS states the median (average) pay for a market research analyst is $65,810, with the highest 10% of individuals in this occupation earning $127,410.
Marketing degrees cover a wide range of topics that teach students concepts and skills such as advertising campaign creation and management, consumer behavior, digital branding, and market research. Other courses may include data analysis, statistics, and marketing theory. Some MBA programs also offer concentrations or specializations in marketing, making the business degree more versatile.
The job outlook, as reported by BLS, is projected to grow 18% for market research analysts, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations. The increased use of data and market research in businesses and organizations will drive growth over the next decade.
#8 – Labor Relations – Master’s, MBA, or Bachelor’s in Labor Relations
Maintaining strong labor relations between employees and management is an essential function to ensure a healthy work environment where the demands of the workforce and needs of management are both met in a spirit of compromise. Management desires productive employees, while employees need fair treatment and livable wages. Labor relations specialists are employed to meet these goals by mediating the relationship between employees, management, and labor unions through the creation and interpretation of contracts and policies. They also investigate workplace grievances as needed.
In some institutions, labor relations programs may be referred to as organizational relations or industrial relations. These programs may also be offered as concentrations or specialty tracks as part of a human resources degree.
According to BLS, the average labor relations specialist earns $73,240 annually, with the highest 10% earning over $128,000. Two industries that pay the highest wages for this occupation include management of companies and enterprises and the government. Labor relations specialists working in management of companies see a median annual wage of $90,620, while those working in government see an average of $75,010.
#7 – Accounting – Master’s, MBA, or Bachelor’s in Accounting
A bachelor’s degree in accounting has always been a popular degree due to its usefulness and attractive pay. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) – Occupational Outlook Handbooks states the median pay for an accountant and auditor is $73,560. However, the highest 10% of earners in this occupation see more than $128,680 per year.
As organizations seek to organize their finances and comply with new taxation laws, accountants are needed to ensure accuracy, compliance, and fiscal feasibility. While an accounting degree teaches a narrow skillset, accountants have great flexibility on what type of organization and industry they want to work in. Students can expect to take courses in cost accounting, finance, mathematics, and taxation.
The job outlook for accountants and auditors is favorable. According to BLS, a 4% employment growth is projected through 2029. The growth is expected thanks to globalization, a growing economy, and the need to comply with new tax laws and regulations.
#6 – Logistics – Master’s, MBA, or Bachelor’s in Logistics, Supply Chain Management
With an average annual salary of $76,270, logisticians rank #7 on our list of top 10 highest paying degrees in business. According to BLS, the highest 10% earn over $122,500. However, industry and years of experience impact earnings potential for this occupation. BLS reports three industries with median annual wages of more than the average listed above. These high paying industries include federal government, manufacturing, and management of companies and enterprises. Logisticians working in federal government earn a median annual wage of $88,280, as reported by BLS. Those working in manufacturing earn an average annual wage of $77,840, while logisticians in management earn $76,900.
The main function of a logistician is to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of an organization’s supply chain. This specific skill set requires an individual to hold a bachelor’s degree in logistics, supply chain management, or systems engineering. Students take courses from a variety of disciplines to learn concepts and skills, such as database management, software and technology specific to the field such as RFID, resource estimation, and reverse logistics. As the global economy further expands, the need for logistic professionals will continue to rise. And, as a result, the job outlook for this occupation will remain stable and favorable with a 4% projected growth in employment through 2029.
#5 – Management – Master’s, MBA, or Bachelor’s in Management
Effective leaders and managers are always needed in any organization, which makes a management degree an excellent choice no matter what level of education. Management programs teach skills and knowledge necessary to lead organizations. These roles offer high wages and advancement opportunities into more senior level positions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states management analysts earn an average salary of $87,660 and have an expected growth rate of 11%, which is nearly three times the average growth rate of all other occupations. BLS also reports that the highest paid 10% of individuals in this occupation earn an average annual wage of $156,840. However, the lowest 10% earn just under $51,000 on average. With such high pay and superb demand, a degree in management should be an excellent investment for the foreseeable future.
#4 – Finance – Master’s, MBA, or Bachelor’s in Finance
A degree in finance can be a profitable achievement with a high return on investment. BLS data shows finance professionals earn an average salary of $87,850. Compare that to the average for all other occupations and it’s easy to see why the degree is a popular choice. According to BLS, financial managers earn a median annual wage of $134,180 and personal financial advisors earn an average annual wage of $89,330. Another popular career path for finance majors is the role of a financial analyst. This occupation offers a median annual wage of $83,660.
Students considering a degree in finance, whether it is at the bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral level, will need strong quantitative and math skills. Typical courses include accounting, business, business law, financial accounting, law, and tax regulations. Certain finance professions also require continuing education and additional licensure due to the changing nature of the finance industry.
Overall, the job outlook for finance occupations is favorable. For example, employment of financial analysts is projected to grow 5% and employment of financial managers should grow 15% through 2029. The rate of growth is much faster than the average for all other occupations.
#3 – Statistics – Master’s, MBA, or Bachelor’s in Statistics
As the business environment becomes more data-driven, individuals with the ability to interpret and analyze statistics will be in demand. A degree in statistics can be used in any industry, including business, education, health, medicine, IT, and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, statisticians earn an excellent median wage of $92,270 along with a staggering 33% expected rate of growth through 2029. As businesses increase the volume of their digital and electronic data, statisticians will be needed to analyze findings and data collection.
Students with this major can expect to take courses in applied linear algebra, biostatistics, calculus, probability, and statistical analysis. Students interested in this major should be strong in mathematics and have a passion for solving complex problems. Also, aspiring statisticians should possess strong analytical skills.
#2 – Entrepreneurship – Master’s, MBA, or Bachelor’s in Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is defined as the ability to establish or set up a business with the hope of earning a profit, while minimizing risk. Not only is this ability essential for the small business owner, but it is also highly valued by business organizations of all sizes. Our analysis shows that individuals with an MBA who work in entrepreneurship earn an average base salary of $102,000 per year, while those with a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship earn a base salary of $55,000. These numbers were gathered from PayScale, a global compensation analysis company.
A program in entrepreneurship teaches students to create and maintain business ventures through critical analysis using economics, marketing, management, data analysis, and more. Graduates of these programs go on to a wide variety of careers as business owners, consultants, and sales managers.
#1 – Economics – Master’s, MBA, or Bachelor’s in Economics
A degree in economics tops our list of highest paying degrees in business. An economics degree teaches students to study how the production and distribution of resources impact the economy. Economists work in all sectors such as education, energy, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and more. In addition, all levels of government, from local to federal, hire economists to evaluate and interpret data. Most economist jobs require a master’s degree or Ph.D. Beyond traditional economics courses, students earning an economics degree take courses that explore advanced business, finance, and statistical analysis topics. Knowledge of statistical analysis software is helpful.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for economists is $108,350, which is nearly four times the average pay for all other occupations. Also, BLS reports the highest paid 10% of individuals in this occupation earn more than $198,230 in median annual wages. Pay varies by industry, geographic location, and years of experience. However, BLS shares four top paying industries for this occupation, with earnings above the average. For economists working in finance and insurance, the median annual wage is $129,060. In the federal government (excluding the postal service), economists earn an average annual wage of $125,350. The third highest paying industry for economists is scientific research and development services. In this industry, economists earn an average annual wage of $122,220. Finally, economists working in management, scientific, and technical consulting services earn an average annual wage of $111,340.
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