Top paying careers in business and their degree requirements

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Wondering if you can break into any of the top paying careers in business? 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes an Occupational Outlook Handbook that provides answers to questions about job growth and opportunity. Let’s take a look at what they say and what level of education you need for these top careers.

Good news: The median annual wage for business and financial occupations was $76,570 in May 2021, which was higher than the median annual wage for all occupations.

More good news: Overall employment in these jobs is projected to grow 7 percent from 2021 to 2031. This increase is expected to result in about 715,100 new jobs over the decade. In addition to new jobs from growth, opportunities arise from the need to replace workers who leave their occupations. About 980,200 openings each year, on average, are projected to come from growth and replacement needs.

Check out these top paying careers in business, by median pay, and the degree level needed to be successful in each. 

  1. $95,570 – Financial Analyst – Financial analysts help individuals and businesses decide how to spend money to earn a profit. They assess stocks, bonds and other types of investments to evaluate current financial data and help guide a company’s monetary decisions. As a financial analyst, you can be on the buy-side or sell-side and work in a bank, at a pension fund or at an insurance company. To become a financial analyst, you need a bachelor’s degree in a common field of business. Some employers prefer to hire candidates with master’s degrees, but it is not required for entry-level positions.
  2. $94,500 – Project Management Specialist – Project management specialists coordinate and monitor the budget, schedule, pay and other details of a project. They oversee a variety of projects, ranging from building new commercial centers to expanding sales in additional markets. Project management specialists also serve as the liaison between the client or customer and technical staff. To enter the field, you need a bachelor’s degree in business, project management or a related field. Some employers prefer candidates with a degree in a technical field, such as computer and information technology or engineering.
  3. $94,170 – Personal Financial Advisor – Another top paying career in business is a personal financial advisor. These professionals meet with individuals to discuss their finances and help them plan for future financial success. They can help their clients with short- and long-term goals such as paying for college and saving for retirement. Advisors also spend a lot of time marketing their services through seminars or business networks. Successful candidates for this job need a bachelor’s degree.
  4. $93,000 – Management Analyst – Management analysts help improve an organization’s efficiency by teaching managers how to reduce costs and increase revenues. They inspect data and develop ways for organizations to improve their financial efficiencies. Although some analysts work for an organization, many work on a contractual basis as consultants. Candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree and several years of related work experience to enter the profession. Some employers prefer to hire individuals with a master’s in business administration.
  5. $81,410 – Financial Examiner – Financial examiners monitor financial transactions and ensure compliance with laws and regulations. They review balance sheets, operating income and expense accounts, and loan documentation. Examiners also assess bank management and track the conditions of other financial institutions. To become a financial examiner, candidates need a bachelor’s degree that includes some coursework in accounting or finance.
  6. $79,940 – Budget Analyst – Budget analysts, another one of the top paying careers in business, help private and public institutions plan their finances by preparing budget reports and estimating future monetary needs. Analysts also use cost-benefit analyses to review financial requests, explore funding methods and evaluate program tradeoffs. Job candidates entering this field typically need  a bachelor’s degree in business, social science, psychology or mathematics.
  7. $77,250 – Accountants and Auditors – Accountants and auditors review financial records for accuracy and ensure taxes are paid appropriately. They examine areas of risk and opportunity and prepare written reports and schedule face-to-face meetings to explain their findings to clients. According to experts, accountants and auditors also use artificial intelligence and robotic process automation to boost productivity. To enter this occupation, candidates need a bachelor’s degree in accounting or a related field. Some universities offer specialized programs in auditing and accounting, and sometimes individuals with an associate’s degree can land junior accounting positions.
  8. $77,030 – Logistician – Logisticians coordinate an organization’s supply chain and manage product life cycles from acquisition to delivery. They use software systems to track the movement of goods and propose strategies to reduce the time and cost of transporting products. Candidates need a bachelor’s degree to become a logistician, although an associate’s degree may suffice for some positions. However, companies prefer to hire workers who have at least a bachelor’s degree because of the job’s complex logistics.
  9. $77,010 – Labor Relations Specialist – Labor relations specialists interpret and draft labor contracts, which outline wages, salaries, pensions and management practices. They collaborate with labor union representatives and a company’s management team to guarantee employee/management policies are appropriate and legal. Individuals interested in becoming labor relations specialists must complete a bachelor’s degree in labor or employment relations. However, education level and previous experience vary by employer and position, and job seekers may qualify with a bachelor’s in human resources, industrial relations, business or other related field.
  10. $76,390 – Insurance Underwriter – Insurance underwriters are in charge of approving insurance applications. They use underwriting software to help them decide whether or not an applicant fits a policy’s criteria. According to experts, most underwriters specialize in either health, life, or property and casualty insurance policies. To become an insurance underwriter, you may need a bachelor’s degree. However, insurance-related work experience, an associate’s degree or a high school diploma may be enough to enter the occupation.

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out our Ultimate Guide to Online Business Degrees, chock full of information you need to find the right business program and meet your future goals.

See more top paying careers in business in the U.W. Bureau of Labor Statistics Business and Financial Occupations section of the Occupational Outlook Handbook.