"The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself. The more you learn, the more you earn."
Are you detail-oriented and structured? As an accountant, you will succeed in interpreting financial statements and documents, managing business operations, and auditing, among other tasks. Not to mention, the average accountant has a base salary of $85,550 per year (Salary.com). From accounting associates to securities analysts, there is a large playing field for accountants.
Got a flair for creativity? As a marketer, you will effectively promote and advertise products, manage sales, market both domestically and internationally, and strategize through consumer research. On average, a person in marketing will make $78,404 per year (Glassdoor).
In addition, as an international businessperson, you will foster your development in business ethics, global banking and logistics, and intercultural communication. Shift to the human resources department, and you will be transported into the land of employee and labor relations, employment legal requirements, statistics, training and development, and effective recruitment.
For those with a strong sense of leadership, business administration and management could be a potential area of study. You would learn to be in charge of operations, financial and informational systems management, business policies, and international management and marketing, among other tasks.
Once you decide on a major, it is important to find an appropriate school to provide the education and environment that are best suited to your needs. Consider the opportunities available on campus, such as mentors and internships, as well as the surrounding college environment.
According to US News & World Report, in a 2022 ranking, the best business schools are the University of Chicago (Booth) and the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton). Comparatively, tied for 5th place on the list are Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. These rankings give a good sense of the quality of the school’s business programs, but as always, conduct your own research and choose wisely.
If you're thinking about a business career, the following high school classes will be beneficial:
Advanced math courses
AP Calculus (AB or BC)
AP Macroeconomics/AP Microeconomics
AP English Language and Composition
Math courses will prepare you for analyzing quantitative data as well as strategizing through developing problem-solving skills; psychology will help you understand human behavior; and mastering English will aid tremendously in communications at all levels, further contributing to your success.
Additional classes, such as AP United States Government and Politics, are great for those specializing in business careers that deal with governmental regulation.
High schools typically offer a variety of business-related clubs, and we recommend that you not only become an active member, but seek out a leadership position during the last couple of years before you graduate. For example, DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) allows students to compete locally and globally in business-related events. DECA members typically focus on a specific cluster (finance, hospitality and tourism, marketing, and business management and administration) and demonstrate their prowess in competitions. FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) members also participate in academic competitions and hone their leadership skills while offering unique scholarships and opportunities.
You may be wondering—aren’t finance and business the same? Actually, finance concentrates on studying how money is spent in a business, “enabl[ing] the purchase of the equipment, the leasing of the property, the buying of materials, [and] employee’s salaries” (Chron).
While someone in accounting focuses on the company’s financial information, someone in finance focuses on how the company handles its capital (ROARK). On average, a finance major will earn $67,829 annually (Zippia). Finance companies and professional companies will offer the most jobs to finance majors—crazy, right?
As for suitable schools, according to U.S. News & World Report, the best finance MBA program is at the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton), followed by the University of Chicago (Booth). Once again, research, research, research! The school that may be “perfect” for others may not be the glass slipper that will fit you.
In particular, as finance majors are heavily concentrated in the math field, AP Calculus, AP Statistics, AP Macroeconomics, and AP Microeconomics are highly recommended. Other APs will further solidify the analysis skills that are a must for someone in finance.
Furthermore, clubs such as DECA and FBLA have finance components that are great segues into the real world of finance.