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Business & Commerce Major

53,444 yearly degrees
#18 in popularity
$103,000 median salary

General business/commerce is a major that typically falls into the Business, Management & Marketing category.

There are 575 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in general business, 436 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 122 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 24 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a General Business Degree?

General business/commerce runs middle of the road when it comes to popularity, ranking #21 out of all the majors we track. In 2017, about 25,800 graduates completed their bachelor’s degree in this major. Roughly 47.1% of the graduates are women, and 52.9% are men.

Racial Distribution

At the countrywide level, the racial distribution of general business majors is as follows:

  • Asian: 5.1%
  • Black or African American: 12.4%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 9.4%
  • White: 58.4%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 7.9%
  • Other Races: 6.8%

Business & Commerce Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in general business. About 7.9% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending general business majors to the U.S. are China, India and South Korea.

What Will You Learn as a Business & Commerce Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to general business to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for General Business Majors

General business majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

Important Knowledge Areas for Business & Commerce Majors

Skills for General Business Majors

When studying general business, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

Important Skills for Business & Commerce Majors

Abilities for General Business Majors

General business majors often go into careers where the following abilities are vital:

Important Abilities for general business Majors

What Can You Do With a General Business Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with general business:

Careers Related to Business & Commerce
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Loss Prevention Managers 8% $107,480
Chief Executives -3.9% $189,600
Storage and Distribution Managers 6.8% $94,730
Sales Managers 7.5% $124,220
Compliance Managers 8% $107,480
Construction Managers 11.1% $93,370
Regulatory Affairs Managers 8% $107,480
Wind Energy Operations Managers 8% $107,480
Management Analysts 14.3% $83,610
Business Professors 18% $83,960

Business & Commerce Major Salary

General business majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $94,000 to $116,000. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a General Business Major  ( 94000 to 116000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

Your salary will be largely dependent on the career path you follow and what area of the country (or world) you work. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Business & Commerce Major Jobs

Some careers associated with general business require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much education do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to general business have obtained the following education levels.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Business & Commerce
Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Less Than a High School Diploma 0.2%
High School Diploma or Equivalent 9.1%
Post-Secondary Certificate 4.1%
Some College Courses 7.2%
Associate's Degree or Equivalent 8.6%
Bachelor's Degree 45.4%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 4%
Master's Degree 14.1%
Post-Master's Certificate 2.3%
First Professional Degree 0.3%
Doctoral Degree 5.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 0%

Online Business & Commerce Programs

There are 436 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in general business/commerce, with 126 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Online learners benefit from being able to watch lectures remotely and complete coursework on their schedule, but they also take longer to graduate than average and are more likely to dropout.

Is a Business & Commerce Major Worth It?

The median salary for a general business grad is $103,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 166% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,288,600 after 20 years!

general business/commerce salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: U.S. Consulate General Munich via License

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