Business is a vast area, with all kinds of different sectors and roles requiring the skills of graduates from all subjects.
Business as a degree
As it is a more general degree course, meaning there are fewer specific careers aligned with the subject, it can feel like there are no explicit routes to take. But in reality, there are thousands of small, medium and large enterprises, as well as public sector organisations, who are looking for the effective leadership, strategic thinking and financial expertise of business graduates.
In 2016/2017 there were nearly 50,000 students studying business in UK Higher education institutions. These students left their degree with higher than average employability rates, with 79.1% of business graduates employed within six months after leaving university. These figures show the popularity of studying business and the excellent career prospects that come with it.
The most popular route into business is a BA in businesses studies or business management which is available at over 120 universities in the UK; according to The Guardian University guide 2021, the top three institutions for this course are 1. The University of Oxford, 2. The University of St. Andrews and 3. The University of Bath. This course usually has a mix of accounting and finance, management and entrepreneurship.
It is also popular to do a business studies course as a joint degree with another related subject, such as economics, accounting or marketing.
In addition to an undergraduate degree at university, many people are choosing to get into a career in business via a degree apprenticeship. There are apprenticeships standards in Operational Research Specialist, Senior Leader and Systems Thinking Practitioner.
Alternative routes into business
Many of the jobs we would class as a ‘business role’ do not need any formal qualifications in businesses.
Many graduates, from a whole range of subjects such as arts and sciences, are finding roles that suit them in the businesses sector. As discussed above, business leads into many different areas, and almost every organisation, no matter what it does, will have roles for business strategy, management, finance and human resources.
The skills needed for these jobs include:
- Good management and leadership
- Organisation and planning
- IT skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Ability to problem solve and think strategically
- Ability to process numbers quickly
These skills are not exclusive to business graduates and are developed in many different subjects.
If you have a degree in Biology or Chemistry, you may be the perfect candidate to go into a pharmaceutical company or medical businesses and work for the business team.
As business is such a broad subject, there are many fields you can go into, each with different jobs and roles within them. The most popular sectors for graduates:
- Banking and financial sector: This includes all jobs related to money and finance, from working as an accountant to being a stockbroker or investor. These are very similar careers to those in accounting and finance.
- Consultancy: A businesses consultant is somebody who provides expert guidance and advice on security, management, law, accounting and much more. They provide expert solutions for their clients to solve any businesses related problems. Major consultancy firms in the UK include KPMG, Deloitte and PwC.
- Human Resources: HR act as a go-between for employers and employees, handling everything related to recruitment, payroll, employment benefits, dismissals etc. They manage and maintain the employees from a business perspective, ensuring everybody is being listened to, treated fairly, and working at the correct level. They also preserve employment law and regulation within a business.
- Marketing: Marketing relates to the processes of promoting the buying or selling of a product or service to its consumers. Companies use different marketing strategies such as advertising, selling and branding.
As well as these direct career paths into business, all kinds of organisations need people to be in charge of the businesses side of the company. Many companies that seemingly have nothing to do with business will hire graduates for business management roles, for example, in many of the creative industries such as fashion and graphic design.
There are also plenty of business career opportunities in the charity sector. Charities need a robust strategic business model which can bring in plenty of money for the charity whilst keeping costs low and engagement with the public high.
Other popular roles in business include:
- Data analyst
- Data scientist
- Project manager
- Risk manager
- Forensic accountant
- Supply chain manager
For more information on similar career paths, see our page on IT, Recruitment and Sales.