Career switching is more common than you might think. The average American has 11.9 jobs over their working career, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2018. And according to a 2016 report from the Graduate Management Admission Council, 40 percent of prospective MBA students decided to enroll in a graduate business program because they wanted to switch careers—more than the percentage of people who wanted to continue their existing career path.
So if you have a passion for business but your background is in another field, a master's degree in business can help propel you to where you want to be. Maybe human resources, healthcare management, or finance sounds exciting. Here are three potential career paths that a business degree can help you pursue.
1. Human resources manager.
Every organization, no matter its size, needs someone to coordinate administrative tasks and ensure that the company is following standard business and labor practices. HR managers steer the administrative side of a business's ship, and oversee a wide array of people-related tasks, such as recruitment, interviewing, and training. They're generally the liaison between management and employees.
The key responsibilities of an HR manager typically include:
- Recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new employees
- Training new employees and managing career development
- Analyzing and resolving business conflicts
- Designing compensation and benefits programs
- Overseeing adherence to evolving federal employment laws and regulations
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of jobs in human resource management to grow by 9 percent by 2026.
If you're thinking of changing careers, a master's degree in business instills the business function, leadership, and management skills needed to perform the duties of an HR manager. A good business program will teach you the importance of adaptation and innovation when faced with management problems and how to formulate strategies to solve them. It will also school you in the ethics of business and organizational development, and it'll impart a strong understanding of occupational safety and equal employment opportunity laws.
2. Financial manager.
Time was when financial managers mainly monitored a company's financial health. Advances in technology have expanded the role, and a financial manager nowadays often analyzes large data sets and helps develop strategies to maximize profits. The outlook for jobs in financial management is strong; the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 19 percent jump in financial management positions at banks, insurance agencies, and the like by 2026.
Several core functions that financial managers perform are expected to be in high demand over the next few years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes. These include:
- Producing financial reports and cash-flow statements
- Developing profit projections and risk-management strategies
- Directing investment decisions
- Planning long-term financial goals
Pursuing an MBA or another advanced business degree will help you develop the high-level skills—such as attention to detail and advanced analytical abilities—you'll need to work with numbers and comply with laws and regulations. Financial managers also need excellent verbal and written communication skills, as they often must help team members understand complex reports. Graduate school will also provide you with training in accounting, marketing, finance, data-driven decision making, and leadership to make sure you're ready for your career switch.
3. Healthcare administrator.
Whether in handling the administrative duties at a small practice or managing a team in a large hospital, a healthcare administrator oversees and coordinates nonclinical services such as human resources, finance, and marketing.
Healthcare administration is a demanding field with many responsibilities, such as:
- Recruiting, hiring, and terminating employees
- Monitoring professional licenses and standards
- Managing budgets and payroll
- Directing purchasing and controlling costs
- Overseeing compliance with local, state, and federal laws
As baby boomers get older and require more healthcare intervention, the need for healthcare administrators will grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 20 percent rise in job prospects by 2026.
An MBA in healthcare administration will help you develop the insight and leadership skills needed to be successful at any facility. You'll study strategic planning, leadership, and economics, and you'll build analytical, technical, and communication skills that will empower you to manage a team, solve staffing problems, and adapt to changing laws. Because electronic record systems are an intrinsic part of the healthcare industry, it's also helpful for healthcare administrators to be familiar with healthcare technology and data analytics.
Make the switch.
Accredited online MBA programs provide the flexibility you need if you're already working full-time. The advanced coursework of a business degree promotes the growth and innovation necessary to work in any complex work environment in the top levels of leadership, whether your goal is to work in business or government or at a nonprofit. With the right business degree, career switching can be simple.