A business associate degree can be a stepping stone to a successful career. And if you’ve ever wondered why an associate degree might be a smarter choice than a bachelor’s, we’ve got some compelling arguments for you.
This article will walk you through the ins and outs of a business associate degree, highlighting trending topics in business management such as hybrid work, artificial intelligence, sustainability, data-driven decisions, and secure communications.
From admission requirements to coursework details, you can find the information you need to know to get your degree. And if you’re thinking about your career and financial future, we’ll also reveal some of the highest-paying jobs that could be yours with a business associate degree.
So whether you’re just starting out or looking to upgrade your skills, this guide will serve as your roadmap to a rewarding career in business. Let’s dive in!
An associate degree in business is a two-year academic program that offers a solid foundation in business principles. It’s an ideal choice for recent high school graduates or those with some work experience who are looking to advance their education.
This degree is a streamlined version of a bachelor’s degree in business, requiring only about half the credits, making it a time-saving and cost-effective alternative. Studies show that folks with an associate degree often have higher earning potential than those with just a high school diploma.
The coursework for this degree typically centers around business administration or business management. Business administration tends to focus more on the strategic aspects, while business management delves into managing people and the operational dynamics of business.
To earn this degree, you generally need to complete approximately 60 to 80 college credits, which usually equates to about two years of full-time study.
Whether you’re keen on weighing the advantages of an associate degree over a bachelor’s, simplifying admission prerequisites, or curious about the coursework, we’re your compass.
In the high-speed world of commerce, getting a jump on the competition can be game-changing. That’s where a business associate degree comes in. This two-year curriculum is crafted to arm you with the essential abilities and know-how you need to get your business career off the ground.
Here are a few reasons why a business associate degree might be a more suitable choice for you than a bachelor’s degree:
- Quick to the Punch: A business associate degree can be wrapped up in just two years. That’s half the time it takes for a bachelor’s degree to get you out in the field and earn a paycheck faster.
- Easy on the Wallet: Since it’s a shorter program, an associate degree is typically less expensive than a bachelor’s degree. It’s a budget-friendly choice for many students. You can also get an associate degree at a community college which makes it even cheaper.
- Jumpstart Your Career: An associate degree in business gives you a solid start in the business world. It arms you with the basic know-how and skills that you can put to use right away in your job. And if you decide to hit the books again, you can pursue a bachelor’s degree to help you climb your career ladder.
- Open Doors: An associate degree can get your foot in the door for entry-level jobs in various sectors like healthcare, business, and tech. It’s a great launchpad for your career.
- Flexibility: If you’re still figuring out your career path or if you’re juggling work and school, an associate degree offers flexibility. It lets you dip your toes into different areas of business without committing to a four-year program.
Admission Requirements for Business Associate Degree
If you’re looking to pursue a business associate degree, there are a few key things you’ll need:
- Age: You should be at least 18 years old.
- Education: You’ll need a high school diploma or an equivalent qualification like a GED.
- Extras: Some colleges might ask for letters of recommendation and a personal essay.
Can I Apply for a Business Degree Without a GED or Diploma?
Yes, it is possible to apply for a business associate degree without a high school diploma. There are several pathways you can consider:
- Non-traditional student: Some colleges accept students without a GED or high school diploma if they apply as non-traditional students.
- Community College: Some community colleges accept students without a high school diploma or GED. They often have more flexible entrance requirements than 4-year universities. A community college may start you off with placement exams so that you can be put in classes that match your academic level.
Remember, these are just the general requirements. Each college might have its own specific requirements, so it’s always a good idea to check with the college you’re interested in.
Business Associate Degree Coursework
A business associate degree is a two-year academic program that provides a comprehensive understanding of business strategies and operations. This degree can be known by different names, such as,
- Associate of Business Administration (ABA),
- Associate of Arts in Business Administration (AABA), or
- Associate of Science in Business Administration (ASBA).
The curriculum for this degree generally includes the following subjects:
- Business Overview
- Business Ethics
- International Business
- Project Management
- Marketing Principles
Along with these business-related subjects, students are also required to complete general education courses in areas like mathematics, history, and composition. However, the exact coursework can vary based on the specific program and the institution offering it.
Taking extra courses alongside a business associate degree can be a strategic move to keep up with the trends in business, enhance your skills, and advance your career. It’s an investment in your future that can pay significant dividends. Let’s look at some trending topics in business management:
Data analytics is crucial for businesses to stay competitive by identifying market trends, especially in fast-paced industries like tech and fashion. Decisions are more data-driven now, leading to evidence-based outcomes.
The demand for data analytics skills is growing across different roles and industries. These skills, which can be acquired through data analytics courses, are a great asset for your career, helping you make strategic decisions in a world that increasingly relies on data.
Related: How to Become a Data Analyst?
Your online banking is as secure as a vault, and your video calls are as private as a whisper. That’s the power of secure communications, and it’s a skill that’s in high demand today. To get skilled, you can enroll in courses in communications security and related subjects.
The internet is a wild frontier, filled with data breaches and cyber-attacks. But with skills in data and information security, you can be the sheriff that keeps it safe. This expertise isn’t just for tech jobs—it’s a golden ticket to a wide range of careers in the business world.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The AI technologies that are revolutionizing businesses today are the same ones you’ll be working within your career. Whether you’re studying marketing, data science, supply chain management, or any other field, AI is likely to be a part of it.
For instance, if you’re studying marketing, understanding how AI personalized marketing strategies based on customer behavior could be crucial for your future role. If you’re into data science, the ability of AI to sift through big data at lightning speed and provide valuable insights is something you’ll be dealing with on a daily basis.
Related: 21 Highest Paying Data Science Jobs
Learning AI courses while pursuing a business associate degree can be a great way to combine technical skills with business acumen. Here are some steps you can take:
- Networking: Attend AI-related seminars, webinars, or meetups in your local area or online. This can help you network with professionals in the field and learn from their experiences.
- Projects: Hands-on application of knowledge is key to understanding AI. Try to put what you learn into practice through small projects. This could be as straightforward as building a chatbot or forecasting sales using machine learning algorithms.
- Business Applications: As a business major, always aim to understand how AI can tackle real-world business challenges. This includes areas like customer segmentation, sales prediction, and even financial analysis.
As companies invest in energy-saving tech and renewable energy sources, they need professionals who understand these fields. By studying relevant courses, you can prepare yourself for these emerging roles.
Courses that focus on ethics in business can help you understand the importance of ethical sourcing and production. This knowledge is increasingly valuable as companies strive to ensure their products aren’t tied to deforestation or worker exploitation.
Role of Women in Business Management
In 2023, women made up 47% of US entrepreneurs starting businesses, a significant increase compared to the pre-COVID-19 pandemic period. This indicates a strong trend of women breaking barriers and establishing themselves in the business world.
Moreover, women-owned businesses have seen substantial growth in their annual earnings. In 2023, annual earnings for women-owned businesses increased by almost 30%, with women-owned businesses in the manufacturing sector experiencing a 35% increase.
If you are a woman considering stepping into the business world or starting your own venture, know that you’re not alone. The increasing number of women entrepreneurs and the success they are achieving is a clear indication that the business landscape is changing. It’s becoming more inclusive, offering more opportunities for women to shine.
Getting a business associate degree is a great way to equip yourself with the foundational skills needed to be successful in business. It can provide you with the knowledge and confidence to navigate the complexities of the business world.
The hybrid model might not be as widespread as first thought. While many are banking on hybrid/flexible work becoming the norm in their organizations in the near future, there’s a clear trend of companies shifting back to full in-office work.
This pivot could be down to a range of factors, including the need for more collaboration, team building, and a return to business as usual.
That said, the hybrid work model is likely here to stay in some shape or form, especially in sectors and roles where remote work is doable and advantageous. So, the future of work could well be a more flexible and tailored approach, balancing business needs with employee preferences and well-being.
The ability to navigate and resolve conflicts effectively is becoming increasingly valuable.
Misunderstandings can occur in teams relying on written communication like emails or chats, which lack non-verbal cues. Hence, many business associate degree programs now include conflict management courses, acknowledging their importance in today’s workplace.
The average yearly income, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for an individual with an associate degree is roughly $40,000. Now, that’s the average across all associate degrees in various fields. It’s safe to say that a business associate degree will likely pull in more earnings than its counterparts, considering the demand.
Now that we’ve established the potential of the degree, let’s explore some of the highest entry-level paying jobs with an associate degree in business. These positions not only offer attractive salaries but also provide a stepping stone to a rewarding career in the business world.
An executive assistant provides seamless administrative support to top executives in an organization. They juggle complex schedules, orchestrate meetings across departments, handle executive communications, and act as the go-between for the executive and other employees or stakeholders outside the company.
Being an executive assistant gives you a front-row seat to how businesses work. You can climb the corporate ladder to upper management roles with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, communications, project management, and leadership. Please note that additional certifications alongside your main degree can help you move up the ranks quicker. Consider getting certified in either:
- Strategic planning (about setting long-term company goals and determining the best way to achieve them),
- Financial analysis (evaluating a company’s financial data to assess its stability, liquidity, and profitability),
- Operational efficiency (deducing better business processes to improve profit-share against operating costs),
- Data science (data analytics, data visualization, using statistics to identify patterns in business decisions), and
- Product management (translating market knowledge into a strategic plan, communicating it, coordinating its execution, and learning from the marketplace)
Average salary: $63,966
Sales reps are the primary point of contact between a business and its customers. They are responsible for presenting and selling products or services to potential clients. This involves understanding the customer’s needs, demonstrating product features, negotiating contracts, and providing after-sales support.
With more time as a sales rep, plus, a bachelor’s degree in business or marketing and additional certifications in inbound and outbound sales, you can get hired elsewhere for better pay or get promoted from your same role as:
- Business Development Representative (BDR): Role focused on generating leads by reaching out to new prospects), or
- Account Executive (AE): Responsible for negotiation and closing deals
Average salary: $57,713
Account Resolution Specialist
An account resolution specialist works with clients to resolve outstanding account issues. This could include unpaid bills, disputes over charges, or other account discrepancies. They communicate with clients to understand their concerns, investigate the issues, and work towards a resolution that satisfies both the client and the business.
If you’re unable to secure a job as an account resolution specialist at the moment, you can kickstart your career by working as a sales associate, cashier, or administrative assistant after earning your associate’s degree in business.
You need to have communication and technical skills, including proficiency in using Microsoft Office, to work as an account resolution specialist. Over time, with experience and a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting, finance, marketing, or healthcare administration (if you’re interested in roles such as practice manager), you can climb up the ladder to become an account manager, where you’ll manage client relationships on a larger scale.
Average salary: $50,035
Communications coordinators manage a company’s internal and external communications. They may write press releases, manage social media accounts, coordinate events, and ensure that all company communications are consistent with the brand. They work closely with various departments to gather information and craft messages that effectively convey the company’s mission and values.
If you wish to work as a communications coordinator, here are some basic skills and tools you can learn beyond earning a business associate degree:
- Adobe Creative Suite
- Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, Outlook
- Formal writing, email etiquettes
- Revising and editing for business communication
To advance in your career, you can pursue a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or journalism. With higher education, you’re well positioned to work in senior roles across departments, such as, marketing manager, corporate communications, human resources, and similar others.
Average salary: $53,054
Social Media Manager
Social media managers are responsible for managing a company’s social media presence. This includes creating and curating content, responding to comments, analyzing engagement data, and developing strategies to promote business on social media.
This is one of the most common roles you can aspire to after earning your business associate degree. Almost every business has an online presence today, and you can help increase their market share by regularly posting and engaging with audiences on their social media handles.
This role requires you to have basic marketing skills, including:
- Graphic designing, color palette to reflect brand image
- Writing, copywriting to suit brand voice
- Ability to manage content pipeline and publishing deadlines
- Data analytics to make reports and show marketing success achieved on social media
In marketing, experience and degree play a vital role in getting a good salary. Moreover, there are a lot of career options for you to consider once you pursue a
bachelor’s degree in business or marketing, including content marketer, event marketer, and others.
Human Resources Specialist
HR specialists recruit new staff, answer employee questions about benefits and policies, process paperwork related to hiring and termination. They play a crucial role in maintaining a positive work environment and ensuring compliance with labor laws.
If you choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business/HR, you’ll have many options to specialize in HR; they include compliance, payroll, recruitment, diversity and inclusion, employee performance management, and benefits.
Average salary: $68,353
Administrative assistants provide support to an office by doing tasks such as answering phone calls, scheduling appointments, maintaining files, and performing other clerical duties. They play a key role in ensuring that office operations run smoothly.
Since this is an admin-centric role, you can flourish in almost any business environment post this job. You can choose to work in human resources, accounting, marketing, finance, or sales. All you need is the backing of a bachelor’s degree in business or related field of your choice.
Average salary: $50,571
As we conclude this guide, it’s clear that a business associate degree opens up a world of opportunities. From understanding the latest trends in business management to exploring the benefits of this degree over a bachelor’s, you’re ready to get enrolled.
A business associate degree helps you get the basics right for further higher education as well as skills for entry level jobs in business across sales, marketing, retail, administration, and customer service. It’s never too late to get your degree. Get yours now.
You could find yourself working in a variety of industries, from healthcare to tech, and your job title could be anything from an administrative assistant to an operations manager or even a sales rep. The specific jobs you can land will depend on the focus of your associate degree in business.
When it comes to earning a business degree, the timeline depends on the type of degree you’re going for. If you’re working towards an associate degree in business, you’re typically looking at about two years of full-time study. A bachelor’s degree in business usually takes around four years of full-time study. And if you’re aiming for a master’s degree in business, like an MBA, you’re typically looking at two years or more of full-time study beyond the bachelor’s degree. But remember, these timelines can vary depending on the program and whether you’re studying part-time or full-time.
Now, if you’re wondering whether you can jump straight from an associate degree to a master’s degree, the answer is: it’s possible. Some universities consider professional background and experience as qualifications instead of an undergraduate degree. But keep in mind, most MBA programs do require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree.