There was once a time when business majors studied either management or finance and that was that. But business has become so complex that a vast number of new specialties have emerged, and colleges and universities have responded by created degree programs to train people for them.
The business world is actually changing faster than ever today with the digital revolution, new environmental concerns, legal changes and complications that come with trying to compete on a global basis. As a result, some slightly odd sounding specialties have already gained a real foothold in the business world. Here are some you might consider getting on the leading edge with:
Sustainable Enterprise Management
“Sustainability” has gradually become part of the general business lexicon over the past two decades or so, largely because companies have come under pressure to do a better job handling pollution issues. Today companies want to brand themselves as environmentally friendly, and they need experts in “green initiatives” to help them do so.
There’s no one more focused on this than oil and energy companies, given the problems that have arisen with oil spills and global warming. There’s practically a whole industry today built around creating and distributing alternative fuels like ethanol and natural gas to the truck fleets and agricultural businesses, for example. But virtually any business that either manufactures or transports anything has to be more environmentally conscious today, and that means growing demand for people who understand sustainability.
This is an expertise that can, at least in some companies, give you a fairly high profile. A degree in “sustainable enterprise management” or “sustainability” can be at either the bachelor’s or master’s level. Job descriptions can range anywhere from “environmental impact analyst” to “director of corporate sustainability.”
If you’re interested in things like carbon credit trading, water policy, logistics and climate change, it’s a career category where you might find a home.
Bachelor In Real Estate Studies
You’ve probably met real estate agents who don’t have any specialized degree in their business. So what’s the value of getting one?
The real estate industry involves many more people doing various jobs than the agents you see selling homes in your town. On the residential side, there are people who work as property managers for developments or apartment houses, real estate appraisers who estimate the value of a home for buyers and sellers, appraisers who determine property tax rates for local governments and brokers, who own large agencies with many retail agents working for them.
Commercial real estate, particularly in major cities, tends to involve bigger companies than residential. There’s a pretty wide range of opportunity for people who want to work with the owners, managers and lawyers who work on either managing commercial properties or buying them.
Generally speaking, this is an industry where you’ll find people with more general degrees working. But like many other industries, it’s a place where a more specialized degree can help open the door for you, if you feel confident that this is the business you want to be in. You are likely to have more of a leg up in commercial real estate if you have a master’s rather than a bachelor’s degree in this specialty.
Sports Management – Bachelor’s or Master’s
Sports management was once considered a fairly “soft” specialty, but a few things have given it more respectability. For starters, school athletics from the college all the way down to the grammar school level have become far more serious and well organized. Secondly, there’s been an explosion in health and fitness services for adults, with health clubs, workout classes and amateur adult sports programs drawing far more interest than they did just a few years ago.
It’s a good idea to hone down your goals in this area before signing up for a degree. Options you might look at include working in community or after school programs with kids, working on the management or sales side for a health club, working for a professional sporting association or getting into the sporting goods retail business.
There’s a wide variety of job titles in this area, from coach to nutritionist, sports events planner or sports marketing specialist.
MS Entertainment Business or MS Entertainment Technology
The growth of digital media has posed all kinds of problems for musicians, authors and other artists who have found it harder to control distribution of their content. But in the big picture, the overall media business has grown drastically since the Internet came along, and that has presented new opportunities for anyone who wants to participate in it from a business perspective.
This is a specialty that’s been around for a while – several top-tier universities have already offered degrees in it for 10 years or more. Generally speaking, the coursework covers areas including marketing, law, finance and accounting. It’s up to the student to decide whether he or she wants to gravitate toward a career in network television, cable, film, music or publishing.
Some schools offer entertainment as a specialization within a broader business degree, either at the bachelor’s or master’s level. Entertainment is a tremendously exciting business, but it’s also a hardboiled, brutally competitive one. A key attraction to specializing here is that the industry is seeing so many rapid changes and new business launches that it seems there will probably be lots of new opportunities emerging for many years to come.
Bachelor of Master in Risk Management
Large businesses in particular work very hard to avoid surprises that can impact them negatively from a financial perspective. That’s why real estate companies, manufacturers, and particularly insurance and financial companies have hired more and more risk managers over the years to help them be prepared for all kinds of problems before they arise.
Risk management degrees tend to have a very financial focus, and although they can lead to careers in many industries, they are often seen as door openers to the insurance business. Courses in this major often include subjects like taxation, derivatives, portfolio management and investment analysis. A significant specialty has grown up around international risk management, in companies that need to manage risks around currency, taxation, commodity prices and political unrest in foreign countries where they do business.
Many risk management graduates look to work as actuaries for insurance companies, calculating the risks and costs of insuring various entities. It’s a career where you’re likely to spend a great deal of time dealing with spreadsheets, but it’s one where opportunities are expected to grow, particularly in the insurance category.