Business and Commerce Graduate Jobs and Opportunities
Qualifications in business and commerce are highly sought-after across the industry sectors, in an extremely wide variety of professions. Business skills are required for all jobs relating to the study and management of the economy; to the creation, management and operation of commercial enterprises (whether they be SMEs or major corporations); and the various support industries that service them. Graduates with commerce degrees will usually work in the private sector however the public service also has a demand for people with business skills to handle government funds and advise on economic policy.
What do I need to get a job in this industry?
There are a variety of options available for students to study business and commerce at a tertiary level. While the degrees provide a broad understanding of commerce and a base set of skills (through compulsory core courses), the choice of major will determine the student’s specialisation and direct their choice of profession after they graduate (although there is still a lot of flexibility).
The main degree choices for commerce and business students available at most universities include*:
- Bachelor of Commerce
A Bachelor of Commerce provides a student with grounding in multiple disciplines of business, including accounting, management, economics and management, as well as the opportunity to major in a range of specialisations like finance, marketing, international business and risk management. It is the most common form of business degree, and provides the most flexibility for graduate career choices. Commerce graduates usually go to work in business but they are not confined to it since the degree provides valuable skills that are relevant to any industry. In fact commerce graduates may work anywhere, from the public service to science, law, entertainment and the arts.
- Bachelor of Economics
The Bachelor of Economics provides a more in-depth exploration of the sub-fields of economics than is provided by the Bachelor of Commerce, as well as an opportunity to combine the study of economics with a major in an area outside economics and commerce, such as mathematics, psychology, languages or international relations. Economics graduates are highly sought-after as financial and statistical analysts, researchers, consultants and policy advisors.
- Bachelor of Actuarial Studies
The Bachelor of Actuarial Studies is for those seeking the technical and non-technical skills required to work in a quantitative position in the fields of risk assessment, insurance and financial services. It generally consists of a set of core subjects (including mathematics, statistics, accounting, economics and business finance), the actuarial studies major and a second business major. Courses in the Bachelor of Actuarial studies may count towards professional accreditation.
- Bachelor of Media (PR & Advertising)
While not specifically a commerce degree, the Bachelor of Media (PR and Advertising) provides many skills and knowledge relevant to the commerce discipline of marketing. The degree provides a core set of media subjects, focusing on organisational and media communications rather than a broad set of business skills. It is ideal for students with a clear career plan in media and an interest in the production side of advertising, since it provides more practical experience than a marketing major in a Bachelor of Commerce (which is more strategy-based). It can also be studied as part of a double degree. . *(These degrees may also be taken in combination with a Bachelor of Science, Engineering, Arts, Law or Information Technology. Many other options are also available. Combined degrees are highly sought-after by employers, since they indicate an individual with a wide knowledge- and skills-base.)
Major Choice and Job Direction in Commerce
Since business degrees provide a great deal of flexibility and equip students for a multitude of potential career paths, the choice of major/s within Commerce or Economics degrees are significant indicators of the direction these paths can take. Below is an exploration of some the jobs commonly associated with the majors available to Commerce and Economics students. Of course, there is overlap between them, and there are many alternate paths to these careers. Not all universities offer all the majors below, and there will be some that have not been included.
Accountants record, analyse and present information regarding a business’s financial standing and performance to internal managers and external stakeholders. An accounting major equips a graduate to work in financial or management accounting, auditing or in taxation.
- Business Statistics
A Business Statistics major provides students with a sophisticated and deep understanding of mathematics and statistics, preparing them for work in the many quantitative roles within the commercial sectors of finance, insurance, banking and manufacturing - as well as many jobs in the public sector. Jobs include financial analysts, market researchers, stockbrokers and policy advisors.
- Business Law
A major in Business Law is not for students wishing to enter the legal profession (that requires a Law degree), rather it provides future business professionals with a solid understanding of the regulations and requirements imposed on commercial activity. Business Law majors learn about the legal processes and structures that underpin common financial transactions (such as contracts). They also learn about their responsibility to the consumer and the market, to act in a fair and ethical manner. Graduates with majors in Business Law are in high demand for many positions, including auditing, compliance; business or financial analysis; risk assessment and consulting.
Economics can be studied either as a bachelor’s degree, or at a Major level. In essence, economists study the movements and effects of demand, production, distribution and consumption in the market, in order to try and model what will happen to the economy if certain factors change. Microeconomics is concerned with the behaviours of buyers and sellers in the market, while macroeconomics takes a larger view of the economy, examining the drivers of economic growth, unemployment, poverty and inflation, and the influence of technological factors such as the internet.
A major in Finance teaches the science of money-management – from the pricing and management of financial assets and equity, to portfolio selection and risk management. Finance is the major of choice for students planning to enter the banking industry. Graduate jobs include financial analyst, investment banker, financial planner, risk management analyst and stockbroker.
- Human Resource Manangement
Human Resource Management (or HRM) emphasises the importance for successful businesses to hire, train, manage, reward and retain their employees effectively, in order for them to work at their best. Graduates in HRM often become excellent managers, or find work as Human Resources Officers, training coordinators, employment relations consultants or recruitment officers.
- International Business
International Business explores how businesses conduct and manage their operations across national borders, and looks at how factors in the global economy affect the development, strategy and operation of multinational corporations. The fiscal and monetary policies of national governments will also be investigated, since they have an impact on international trade. The effect of technological change and the implications of globalisation will also be considered. Graduates with an International Business major are sought-after by MNCs for positions such as international equity or marketing officer, international business strategist, export and import officer and global product coordinator. They may also find work in the public service as a cross-cultural advisor or policy advisor.
- Information Systems in Business
Information technology has revolutionised modern business, from globalising consumers, suppliers and competitors; to streamlining and integrating business functions. A major in Information Systems will provide a business graduate with an understanding of the impacts of technological change on the business environment; as well as the ability to develop and implement information systems and solutions for business. Job opportunities include consulting, business intelligence, systems development, project management and digital security.
A Management major provides students with a multidisciplinary skill-set and knowledge-base, enabling them to pursue and achieve many different business targets and projects, undertake leadership roles and coordinate teams in a variety of business environments. Management majors may find themselves working in many different commercial disciplines, in a plethora of leadership roles.
Identifying and satisfying the needs of the customer in a unique, memorable, and profitable way is the core ideology behind marketing. All businesses, if they are to be successful in any form, need marketers. A marketing major is useful for anyone working in commerce, particularly for entrepreneurs, business owners and managers. Specialist marketing jobs include marketing and business development consultant; public relations officer, advertiser, market and consumer researcher; and brand manager.
- Languages (e.g. Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean)
The ability to speak multiple languages is a highly useful and desirable skill for people working in business and commerce. The internationalisation of trade and expansion of the technology-mediated “global village” means that interaction with different cultures and nationalities is becoming increasingly common. A major in Chinese, French or any other non-native language provides the skills to speak fluently at a professional level, while gaining valuable contextual cultural knowledge. Commerce students with a major in language are particularly well equipped to work in international business.
Ecological and social sustainability are increasingly becoming recognised as highly important of businesses’ consideration. The “triple bottom-line”, the integration of sustainable practices into every facet of an organisation’s operation, “social managers”, and the importance of sustainability to brand image – these and other issues are explored in a Sustainability major. Students graduating with knowledge and skills in sustainability may often work as consultants, entrepreneurs, marketers or managers.
Taxation majors may work either in the public service (in the Tax Office), or as taxation professionals, providing organisations with advice and assistance in their tax duties, informing them as to the most tax-efficient ways to operate and finance their projects. A major in Taxation can count towards becoming a Registered Tax Officer.
As with all professions, work experience in a relevant job improves business graduate employment prospects. Since “business and commerce” spans all industries, there are almost no limits to the type of work that can be considered “relevant” experience. It all depends on the type of graduate job a candidate wants to enter. Internships and vacation programs with large financial services corporations (such as the Big Four accounting firms), banks and big corporations are in high demand amongst commerce students, and for good reason, since they accept only the best candidates, provide structured training and mentoring and can sometimes provide experience across multiple layers of the business. However, since they are so competitive, it is worthwhile to look beyond the biggest companies to the much larger SME market. An internship, work experience or part-time job with a small-to-medium business provides plenty of practical experience that will be extremely valuable post-graduation.
Macroeconomic Trends and Job Prospects
Overall, Australia has a strong economy, driven mostly by the booming mining exports industry. Business conditions within Australia vary, with many companies still not recovered from the financial crisis, facing increased costs and decreased consumer confidence. This has shrunk the employment market, with many companies scaling back their workforces. Too gloomy an outlook would be a mistake however, as economic growth and recovery continues (albeit slowly). The major implication for graduates is an increased selectivity among employers, who are raising their standards for recruitment, looking for employees with transferrable skills, practical experience, interpersonal skills and a good fit with organisational culture and values.
Although the vast majority of jobs available for business and commerce graduates will be in private enterprise, the public service should also be considered. Graduates with business backgrounds will be considered for most Federal and State departments, especially the Treasury, the Department of Employment, the Finance Department, the Department of Industry and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Salaries in business and commerce vary widely within the range of $50-120k per annum, depending on industry. Accounting, despite being one of the most popular choices for business students, has a relatively low starting salary with a 2014 median of $54 000. This is similar to the starting salary estimates for marketing and sales ($56 000) and HR ($57 500), all of which are lower than the AAGE’s reported average starting salary for all graduates, ($58 000). Despite these figures, jobs in accounting, sales, marketing and HR should not be passed over, since the salaries increase with each year of experience and the long-term opportunities are very good. On the other end of the spectrum, starting salaries in consultancy and investment banking can be very lucrative, from $80-120k. However these salaries are usually tied to increased working hours and higher stress.