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6 Common Business Management Career Paths

business management career

Management roles are essential in so many industries and across such a wide range of companies that it's sometimes difficult to define what exactly a position in management may look like. Since the knowledge, skills and education required for management roles often vary from field to field, it can be hard to start thinking about a business management career before you know exactly what options exist in your chosen industry. Below, we've broken down some of the most common management career paths in six major fields, as well as the education and skills most often required for each.


While accounting managers may oversee a team of junior accountants in some large firms, management roles often work a little differently within this field. Management accounting is a specific branch of accounting work that deals with tracking the financial health of a company and recommending internal processes and changes to improve profitability. A career in management accounting may involve working alongside other middle and upper-level managers to help make important decisions about a company's future, rather than directly overseeing a group of one's own employees, as is common in many management roles.1

A bachelor's degree in accounting is usually the base requirement for entry-level management accounting positions. However, those looking to further their career in the field will need to consider pursuing the certified management accountant (CMA) designation from the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA).2


Marketing managers are responsible for overseeing a number of different parts of the marketing and advertising process for a company or product. Depending on whether your interest is in working with vendors and selling products or more on the creative side, marketing career paths can lead in quite a few different directions. Brand managers and market researchers often work together with creative teams to determine the best ways to reach target customers, and are responsible for establishing aesthetic and style guidelines, proper messaging and marketing plans. A field marketing manager, on the other hand, may work with stores and vendors to ensure marketing plans are being carried out properly in order to reach consumers.

Marketing management degrees are frequently offered in business administration programs, sometimes as a specialization within a BBA degree. Those interested in pursuing digital marketing or an Internet marketing manager role may also consider any additional courses or concentrations focusing on web and technical skills.3


Business management career paths often intersect or overlap, such as with the role of a financial manager vs. that of a management accountant. Financial managers help assess a company's health by reviewing budgeting, investments, industry trends and other business activity, while compiling financial statements to use in advising upper management. Though their responsibilities revolve more around spotting trends and making long-term projections, financial managers may work with management accountants to get the information they need.

Financial management careers require experience in economics, financial analysis and accounting, as well as extensive knowledge of the company or industry in which one wishes to work. For this reason, financial managers frequently have at least five years of experience in lower-level management or entry-level positions in addition to a BA in finance, accounting, economics or business administration.4


A career in business operations management requires solid working knowledge of many different branches of a company in order to facilitate internal cooperation and communication in service of a larger goal. Operations managers work on a variety of projects, from helping to establish departmental and company budgets to guiding new products from conception to launch.

Because operations management requires strong communication and administrative skills, a bachelor's in business administration is often the required degree. However, specific concentrations may be useful if one is hoping to enter a particular industry. Additionally, since operations managers need to have a clear understanding of the inner workings of a business, several years of experience in entry and mid-level positions can be helpful.5

Project Management

Project management careers can take a number of different forms across many industries. At any level, a project manager's role is to help coordinate efforts between multiple internal and external teams, setting goals and delivery timelines and ensuring all parties have the resources they need to complete a job.

Sometimes project management concentrations are offered within a business administration degree, though this is not necessarily required for a career. Often entry-level positions like project coordinator, assistant/junior project manager or project analyst can lead to senior management positions with extended experience.6


An HR manager typically handles many of the same responsibilities of human resources specialists, but they may help oversee the work of a team of employees. They also work less with individual employees and new hires, instead spending more time corresponding with upper management to plan hiring budgets and project company growth.

HR career paths often start with entry-level specialist roles before progressing to mid-level positions like hiring or benefits managers. Starting positions may require a degree with an HR concentration, but often just require a business-related bachelor's degree.7

Ready to learn more? Explore online business degrees at AIU.

1. The Guardian, "Careers in Management Accountancy: It's More Than Just Number Crunching," on the Internet at (visited April 23, 2016).

2. Institute of Management Accountants, "IMA Global Salary Survey," on the Internet at (visited April 23, 2016).

3., "What Career Options Are Available in Marketing Management?" on the Internet at (visited April 23, 2016).

4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, "Financial Managers," on the Internet at (visited April 23, 2016).

5. U.S. News Careers, "Business Operations Manager Overview," on the Internet at (visited April 23, 2016).

6. Project Management Institute, "Career Paths for the Entry-Level Project Manager," on the Internet at (visited on April 23, 2016).

7., "Human Resources Careers," on the Internet at (visited on April 23, 2016).