How To Become a Business Manager

Business operations manager discussing strategy with team

Do you enjoy juggling multiple projects at once? Are you constantly on the lookout for ways to improve your own and others’ efficiency? If so, you may have the makings of a future business operations manager.

Managers play an important role in all types of businesses, spanning both the manufacturing and service industries. Professionals often find a great deal of personal satisfaction in holding this level of responsibility and helping their businesses work more efficiently. If you’re wondering how to become a business manager, it all starts with your high school education, followed by your postsecondary business administration degree.

What Exactly Does a Business Manager Do?

Mid-size to large companies have multiple departments, such as human resources, accounting and marketing. Typically, each department has its own department head who is responsible for supervising departmental staff and overseeing the business operations of the entire department. In contrast, the business manager is responsible for overseeing multiple departments at once.

Business managers fill a leadership role that encompasses such responsibilities as ensuring that each department is on track to meet its objectives and supporting the organization’s overall profitability and stability. Specific tasks may vary from one company to the next, but in general, managers can expect to do the following:

  • Evaluate available resources and plan their allocation across departments
  • Develop and manage departmental budgets
  • Negotiate contracts with vendors and adjust the supply chain as needed
  • Research and analyze the consumer market
  • Consider ways of to improve customer satisfaction
  • Develop company policies and processes

In short, business managers are responsible for making sure the company is operating efficiently and meeting its growth objectives.

How to Become a Business Manager: An Overview

Even if you’re still in high school, you can already start the process of becoming a business manager. Talk to your guidance counselor about adjusting your course load to suit your career ambitions. Some relevant courses include:

  • Introduction to business
  • Business law
  • Economics
  • Accounting and finance
  • Computer applications

Communication skills are also key, so don’t neglect the humanities. If your high school offers a public speaking course or debate club, take advantage of those opportunities.

Of course, postsecondary education is one of the most important qualifications for a manager. You should plan on earning an undergraduate degree in business administration, and you may need to go on to a graduate-level degree program as well.

It’s expected in many companies that managers first work in an entry-level role, such as in the human resources or accounting departments. Then, after gaining a few years of experience, you may pursue your desired higher-level role. Additionally, you can increase your chances of success by earning one or two professional certifications.

Earning a Business Administration Degree

After high school, the first step to become a business manager is to earn an undergraduate business administration degree. Business administration is a broad field that instills many versatile and transferrable skills that will be useful no matter which industry you eventually enter, including:

  • Critical thinking
  • Communication skills
  • Analytical reasoning
  • Servant leadership
  • Ethical decision-making

The specific curriculum varies from one school to the next, but in general, you can expect to study such topics as:

  • The foundations of marketing, including developing and evaluating marketing campaigns, understanding consumer behaviors and combining traditional marketing with digital marketing;
  • Ethical and legal issues pertaining to business, including contract law, tort law, strict liability and intellectual property;
  • The global supply chain and international markets, with a look at cross-cultural competencies;
  • Managerial concepts and strategies for designing, operating and managing production systems in both service and manufacturing environments; and
  • Leadership within an organizational context, including organizational change and decision-making.

In short, you’ll learn about a broad range of subjects—from marketing and consumer behavior to organizational leadership and business accounting. A business administration degree is the ideal qualification for any aspiring manager.

Enhancing Your Business Manager Qualifications With a Master’s Degree

An undergraduate business administration degree may be sufficient to allow you to pursue an entry-level position, particularly at smaller companies. However, many companies — particularly larger corporations — prefer job candidates who hold a master’s degree. Since employers often prefer that business managers also have experience in addition to the right degree, you may wish to start your working career while earning your master’s degree on a part-time basis.

What type of graduate degree should you earn? An aspiring manager typically earns a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree, with or without an area of specialization. Specializations include finance, human resources, project management, accounting or leadership.

An MBA degree is considered the gold standard in manager qualifications. During your studies, you will take a deep dive into topics such as the:

  • Science of organizational behavior,
  • Practices of financial accounting,
  • Steps involved with financial analyses, and
  • Strategies used to streamline business operations.

Along the way, you will also refine your:

  • Analytical reasoning,
  • Critical thinking abilities,
  • Oral and written communication skills, and
  • Leadership styles and strategies.

In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to build a strong professional network by developing meaningful interactions with instructors and fellow students.

Pursuing Voluntary Certifications

Your academic manager qualifications and your on-the-job experience will be your most powerful tools as you build your career. However, you can enhance your qualifications further by pursuing voluntary certifications. Note that some certification options may require you to have a certain number of years of experience beforehand, whereas others are available to entry-level professionals.

Some certification options that are good choices for business managers include the following:

  • Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®)
  • SAP-Certified Application Associate - Business Planning and Consolidation
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®)
  • CBPA®-Certified Business Process Associate, Professional or Leader
  • AIPMM-Certified Brand Manager

You do not necessarily need to obtain every available certification. Having one or two is a good start that can set you apart from other job candidates.

If you picture yourself working as a business manager someday, you can get started on your career path by earning a business administration degree at Grand Canyon University. The Colangelo College of Business is pleased to offer the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree program. You will emerge with strong competencies that position you as a competitive job candidate, including skills in business finance, strategic management and international markets.

Begin planning for your future at GCU by clicking on Request Info at the top of your screen.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.