A recent survey showed that more students took up business degrees in 2020 compared to the last survey a decade ago. Business education actually took over STEM in popularity, despite the latter being more in-demand in recent years. One motivation could be the fact that the degree gives you a lot of flexibility – unlike a degree in engineering or health sciences, a business degree can give you access to just about any company or industry, because business knowledge is the driving force behind the success of any company.
A business degree also gives you the skills to weather uncertain times, which for today’s graduates means both the pandemic and recession. It also opens up exciting career doors, including progression into the highest-paid roles in any company, like Chief Executive Officer, Vice President, or Director. For example, a CEO at Google (Singapore) can earn up to $45,000 a month, while the CEO of GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, makes over a million a year. Basically, for anyone armed with sufficient business acumen, the sky is (potentially) the limit.
While that type of salary won’t be something just any fresh graduate can achieve, having a business degree can definitely steer you in the right direction. However, salary isn’t everything, and before you decide to pursue a business degree, it is essential to understand the broader career implications.
How does the role weather the pandemic?
The pandemic has shown us the importance of areas like healthcare and e-commerce, but even those fields will need someone with a background in business to keep the wheels rolling. For example, online platforms Lazada and Shopee are hiring dedicated people in business development and product development roles in response to the surge in online shopping.
The pandemic is also causing many fresh graduates to rethink the industries they want to be in. For instance, there may be new roles carved out of the gig economy, or even the energy market which is seeing a major surge as the world starts to rebound. Startups that serve the gig economy and major energy companies have in common the need for adaptable executives who understand how to apply strong business fundamentals in an ever-evolving marketplace.
Ultimately, no matter what the role may be, aspiring executives need to have transferable skills in order to take advantage of all these opportunities. Those who can work through problems in the face of roadblocks, communicate well with others, and come up with creative solutions with limited resources will stand out in the job market. These skills are not as common as you may think. The average fresh graduate doesn’t just develop them, so those with a specific business background (both theoretical and practical) will have an immediate advantage.
What is the potential salary for a business graduate?
Fresh business degree graduates have to be realistic in their expectations. If money is your goal, a Georgetown University’s study found that a certain group of majors provide a bigger return on investment over a lifetime. Of the twenty-five highest-paying majors, all are in STEM fields, except economics and business economics. So not all business degrees give you the same opportunities in the job market.
The highest paying fresh graduate roles with business degrees are often math-focused, typically with roles in the finance industry. In fact, it is not rare to find banks in Singapore that pay about $10,000 a month after just three years of employment!
Most of the highest paying numbers-related jobs that are open to new hires require candidates to have strong analytical skills, be process-driven and detail-oriented, including:
|Annual base salary (<1-5 yrs)
|Business Analyst (Finance/Banking)
|$44,000 – $49,000
|$47,000 – $53,000
|$54,000 – $60,000
|$82,000 – $110,000
However, the finance sector does come with its own, unique challenges – like ever-changing policies, long hours, and digital transformation – so you need to have a genuine interest and passion in to take on roles in this industry.
If a job in finance doesn’t float your boat, there are lots of options in marketing, business development, strategy planning or management where you can flex your communication, analytical, and organisational skills to provide structure and strategy to a workplace.
Entering “business degree” into a job search engine may not pull up many job listings, because it is a major that equips you with the skill set for a variety of careers across multiple fields.
In fact, business graduates can be found across a wide range of industries. Think tech companies like Google or Amazon, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) like Unilever or P&G, pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer or Bayer, luxury brands like Louis Vuitton or Balenciaga, and many more.
Here are some non-finance roles tailored for business graduates:
|Annual base salary (<1-5 yrs)
|Recruiter (HR Specialist)
|$42,000 – $51,000
|Business Analyst (IT)
|$44,000 – $55,000
|Assistant Manager (Managerial)
|$49,000 – $60,000
|Marketing Manager (Digital)
|$59,000 – $72,000
Is a business degree for you?
If you are planning to get a head start in a career that offers you flexibility in terms of job roles and industries, or want the opportunity for career growth and development, then a business degree may be a great fit for you.
Some business degree programmes, like ESSEC’s Global Bachelor of Business Administration (Global BBA), boast not only good graduate employment rates (97% of students find a job within 6 months of graduation), but also impressive graduate starting salaries, averaging $6,000 a month.
Depending on what you want to focus on, business programmes like ESSEC’s Global BBA include modules that range from mathematics (ie. applied to economics & finance, financial management, financial accounting) as well as modules in international marketing, international trade, and the like. These modules are designed to impart a well-rounded knowledge of how businesses are powered by people, and how the right strategies can make a big change in a company.
ESSEC’s 4-year programme not only gives you flexibility in the course modules; one of its biggest benefits is the global exposure. You have the option of studying at any of their campuses (Singapore, France, and Morocco), and opt for exchange programmes at over 170 partner institutions globally.
While courses are taught primarily in English in the Asia-Pacific campus, all of ESSEC’s graduates are required to be well-versed in at least 3 languages, making them truly global citizens. All students will also undertake a global internship for 10-16 months where they can get a head start even before venturing into the working world after graduation.
If you are looking to land a job at a multinational company with roles that involve international travel, any fresh graduate with international exposure or knowledge would be looked at more favourably. Even if you are aspiring to be an entrepreneur, the flexibility and exposure of a business degree has been known to open doors to many possibilities.
Find out if ESSEC’s Global BBA is the right degree for you.
Note: The salaries reflected are higher-range ones posted publicly on job sites by hiring companies at the time of posting.