Business Executive: Education & Career Requirements

Business executives plan an enterprise's future by establishing goals and implementing initiatives. Examples of upper business management titles include chief executive officer (CEO), chief operating officer (COO) and chief financial officer (CFO). Read on to learn more about the educational path to become a business executive.

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Upper Business Management Educational Requirements

Bachelor's Degree for Business Executives

Not all business executives hold a bachelor's degree, but entering upper management may be easier for those who have completed a bachelor's degree program. Aspiring business executives may consider programs in business administration, finance or management. These programs cover topics ranging from accounting to building relationships. Students may also be assigned group projects in which they are responsible for a particular task, like researching trends in an industry.

College graduates usually do not become executive officers immediately. Most firms prefer young employees to work within the company so they can be trained on the job. During this period, new hires gain valuable insights into how the business functions, begin fostering relationships and build their reputations so that they may be considered for promotions.

Advanced Degrees for Business Executives

In order to speed the process of entering upper management, individuals may consider enrolling in an advanced degree program, like Master of Business Administration or Master of Science in Finance programs. Advanced degree programs typically last 1-2 years, during which students work on individual and group assignments ranging from marketing and brand management to finance and strategy. Most programs also require students to participate in presentations to build soft skills, like speaking and leadership.

Industry-Specific Education for Business Executives

Some employers within specific industries, like construction or telecommunications, may have established trainee or management programs for new hires. These programs help recent graduates to become familiarized with aspects of the business from the ground up.

Students wishing to work within a given industry, such as construction or engineering, may consider taking supplemental classes in those fields. For example, aspiring CFOs for construction management firms may enhance their employment and advancement opportunities by taking courses in sourcing, contract negotiation and bidding.

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a 5% job growth for top executives in the years 2010-2020. Chief executives earned a median annual salary of $168,140 in 2012, according to the BLS.

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