What is a Business Management Associate Degree?
Business management trains students in the fundamental principles of business, leadership, and management. Students gain valuable training in business administration, preparing graduates for careers in a variety of fields. The degree leads to jobs as insurance sales agents retail store managers, and administrative assistants.
Graduates can also transfer into a bachelor's program and earn their bachelor's degree in two years. A bachelor's meets the entry-level qualifications for many opportunities in business. For example, most sales managers hold a bachelor's degree and several years of professional experience.
During an online business management associate degree, students complete foundational courses in business administration, accounting, and financial management. The degree appeals to professionals seeking a career change, particularly working professionals who benefit from the flexibility of an online degree. Most online business management programs do not require in-person meetings, allowing students to attend out-of-state programs that provide specialized concentrations in their desired field.
The career outlook for business management graduates remains strong. Several career paths show above-average earning potential and strong job growth, as covered in the following sections. By earning a business management degree, students advance their careers and increase their salary potential.
Why Earn an Online Business Management Degree?
An online business management degree benefits students in multiple ways. The flexibility of an online program helps students pursue career advancement while working.
- Build Business Skills
An associate degree in business management builds foundational business skills, which translate into job opportunities in business or prepare students for a bachelor's degree.
- Career Advancement
Earning an associate degree helps professionals qualify for advancement opportunities. Graduates can also transfer into a four-year program to earn a bachelor's.
Online programs offer flexibility through their schedules. Many let students complete business management courses around work or family obligations.
An online learning format makes it easier for working professionals to attend top programs without having to relocate. Online programs also offer greater convenience, because they eliminate commute time.
- Increased Earning Potential
As professionals increase their degree level, they often see a salary increase. Earning an associate degree in business management translates to higher earning potential.
Career and Salary Potential with an Associate Degree in Business Management
Professionals with a business management degree pursue opportunities in sales, business, and management. Roles such as store manager or sales agent draw on the skills gained during a business management degree. While no degree guarantees a career or salary, this section introduces typical careers and salary averages for business management graduates. Some business management jobs require a bachelor's.
Business management associate degree salary information, listed below, demonstrates the strong earning potential in the field.
Median Annual Salary: $124,220
Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 5%
|Sales managers direct an organization's sales team. They set sales goals, analyze sales data, and create training programs for sales representatives. Sales managers also prepare budgets, project sales to determine profitability, and develop strategies to increase customers. Most sales managers bring several years of experience in sales and hold a bachelor's degree.|
|Retail Store Manager||
Median Annual Salary: $38,550
Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 4%
|Retail store managers supervise and coordinate the activities of retail sales workers. They oversee purchasing, manage the department's budget, and create a schedule to cover shifts. Store managers also manage daily operations at the location. Most retail store managers bring several years of experience as a retail sales worker.|
Median Annual Salary: $38,880
Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): -7%
|Administrative assistants perform clerical and administrative tasks. They prepare documents, organize files, schedule appointments, and provide support services. The duties of an administrative assistant include answering phone calls, handling incoming mail, preparing reports, and editing documents. Candidates with an associate degree meet the educational requirements for most administrative assistant positions.|
|Customer Service Representative||
Median Annual Salary: $33,750
Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): -2%
|Customer service representatives work with customers to process orders, accept returns, and resolve complaints. They also provide information about an organization's products or services. Customer service representatives answer customer questions and concerns, review customer accounts to make changes, and record information about actions taken after a customer call.|
|Insurance Sales Agent||
Median Annual Salary: $50,600
Projected Growth Rate (2018-2028): 10%
|Insurance sales agents contact customers to sell insurance. They explain insurance policies to help clients choose plans, analyze insurance policies to suggest additions, and customize insurance programs around client needs. Insurance sales agents also handle policy renewals. Some employers prefer candidates with a college degree.|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Earning an Associate in Business Management Online
An online business management associate degree provides foundational skills in business and management. This section explores the application process, common courses, the length of a business management associate degree, and skills gained during the degree. Specific classes and admission requirements vary depending on the program.
Prospective business management students must complete the application process before beginning their degree. During this process, colleges assess a candidate's qualifications based on their application, transcripts, and personal statement. Most two-year programs do not require SAT or ACT scores.
Schools often require an application, which details the candidate's educational, professional, and personal background. Most schools offer online applications, with the option to waive the application fee for qualified students.
Generally, associate programs require a high school diploma or the equivalent. Students submit high school transcripts to demonstrate meeting the educational requirements. Candidates with college experience also provide college transcripts, which schools evaluate to determine transfer credits.
Many programs require a personal statement, which allows students to explain their preparation for a business management degree and their career goals after graduation.
Letters of Recommendation
Students may need to submit letters of recommendation from former teachers or supervisors. These letters should speak to the student's qualifications for college.
Some colleges set a minimum GPA for admission. Students who do not meet the minimum may qualify for provisional admission. Prospective students can reach out to an admissions advisor to learn more about the process.
Principles of Management
Many business management programs begin with a principles of management course. The class introduces students to the business environment and the role of a manager. Students study decision-making, organizational leadership, and planning. The course prepares business management students for additional classes in their major.
In financial management courses, students explore the foundational concepts for financial decision-making. Students learn about finance as a field, including financial assets, investment strategies, and financial planning. The course emphasizes managing financial assets, including capital management and capital structure. Students apply these skills in finance or in management careers.
International business courses examine business in a global context. Students survey fundamentals and principles of management for globally oriented firms. The course addresses the cultural and social environment for business, organizational structures for international business, and government regulations. The coursework explores the differences between businesses with a domestic or international focus and prepares students for careers in global business.
In marketing courses, students learn about the fundamentals of marketing. The course covers communicating value to potential customers and delivering value. Marketing courses also train students to assess customer needs, align marketing strategies with organizational goals, conduct marketing research, and craft targeted marketing plans.
Courses in managerial accounting introduce students to making business decisions based on financial information. Students examine assessing past performance through accounting and projecting productivity. They also learn how to financially assess new business practices before putting them into practice. This knowledge prepares graduates for management roles.
Average Online Degree Length
Completing an online business management associate degree generally takes two years for full-time students. Most colleges require around 60 credits to earn an associate degree, including general education requirements and business management courses.
Several factors shape the length of an associate degree. For example, some programs require an internship or capstone course, which can add time to the degree. Many online business management schools offer flexible enrollment options which also affect degree length. For example, students who choose an accelerated timeline can finish in less than two years with accelerated classes or a higher course load. Students who choose a part-time option add time to the degree.
Online business management students benefit from the learning format's flexibility. Instead of set class times, many online programs let students arrange their lectures and coursework around their work or family responsibilities. Most online programs also accept transfer credits, which save students time and money.
Skills, Traits, and Knowledge Gained
Business management students study topics like organizational leadership, management, marketing, and accounting. The degree provides foundational business knowledge for graduates pursuing careers in business or a bachelor's degree. At the associate level, students can focus their degree by pursuing concentrations in leadership, entrepreneurship, or management.
During a business management degree, students build skills and abilities that translate in many fields. Graduates apply their analytical and problem-solving skills as sales managers or retail store managers. Strong communication and interpersonal skills also help graduates advance in business management jobs.
These abilities benefit business professionals in any field. However, business management students can also hone their skills for a specific industry or career during an associate program. Pursuing elective classes designed for the restaurant industry or hotel management provides job-ready skills. Similarly, students can complete an internship to gain experience in their chosen field.
Accreditation for Business Management Associate Programs
Prospective business management students should always choose an accredited college to earn their degree. Accreditation benefits students in several ways. Credits and degrees earned from accredited institutions will more likely transfer to other colleges or universities. Associate degree students considering transferring to a four-year institution can save time and money by attending an accredited two-year institution. Accredited institutions also meet the requirement to offer federal financial aid.
Accredited colleges meet high standards of academic excellence. Schools voluntarily submit to review from an independent agency to earn accreditation. During the review, the accrediting agency evaluates the institution's graduation requirements, graduation rates, and student learning outcomes. Accredited institutions must undergo periodic review to maintain their status.
Business management students can look for both regional accreditation, which evaluates the entire institution, and programmatic accreditation, which assesses the business program. An accredited degree offers the best investment for business management students.
Professional Organizations and Resources
Professional organizations help business management students and professionals stay current in the field. These organizations offer networking opportunities through conferences and events, provide professional development support through webinars and training programs, and grant certificates to recognize professional skills. Many also host career centers with job postings and career guidance for management professionals.
By joining a professional organization, business management students strengthen their professional skills and build a network as they transition from school into the workforce.
AMA offers professional development tools for students and management professionals. The association offers certificate programs, seminars, and webcasts, while also hosting events with networking opportunities. AMA also provides a resource library, skill assessment resources, and articles to keep management professionals current in the field.
A professional organization focused on entrepreneurship, EO connects students, business professionals, and entrepreneurs. The organization offers an online entrepreneur forum, leadership development programs, and executive education opportunities. The EO Mentorship program connects early career professionals with mentors who provide education and engagement, which helps students enter the workforce.
A professional organization for business students, FBLA-PBL supports over 230,000 members. The organization emphasizes leadership development, educational programs, and community service. Members participate in FBLA awards programs to strengthen their skills and gain recognition for their abilities.
Next Steps: Continuing Your Education
An associate degree in business management prepares graduates for bachelor's programs. By pursuing a bachelor's degree, professionals increase their salary potential and widen their job opportunities. This section covers how to transfer into a four-year program and majors that help business management graduates meet their career goals.
Transferring to a Four-Year Degree Program
An associate degree introduces students to the business management field. By transferring into a four-year program, graduates can expand their skills and meet the entry-level educational requirement for many career paths in business, including management-level opportunities. Incoming students with an associate degree often earn their bachelor's in two years.
Prospective transfer students should research transfer agreements to determine which schools will accept their credits. In most cases, an associate degree covers all general education requirements along with major requirements.
Additional Degree Paths to Consider
After completing an online business management associate degree, graduates can pursue their bachelor's by transferring to a four-year college or university. A bachelor's degree meets the entry-level requirement for a variety of careers in business and management. With a bachelor's degree, graduates can also pursue an MBA.
- Bachelor's in Management: During a bachelor's in management, students strengthen their skills in organizational leadership, management, and business. The degree leads to business management jobs in several industries.
- Bachelor's in Business Administration: A bachelor's in business administration builds skills in marketing, finance, business, and management. Graduates pursue opportunities in business or apply to graduate programs to earn an MBA.
- Bachelor's in Marketing: A bachelor's in marketing prepares students for opportunities as marketing specialists or marketing managers. Majors study advertising strategy, strategic communications, and marketing.