Benefits of Entry-Level Business Jobs
There are lots of good reasons to attend business school, but if you haven't gotten that far yet (or don't plan to), there are still lots of business jobs that you could get with just a high school diploma. Most of these jobs are entry-level positions (you won't start out as a manager), but they pay a living wage and could provide you with valuable career development resources. For example, you could receive on-the-job training that could help you improve your communication skills or master software programs. You might even acquire special knowledge in a concentrated area like accounting, banking, or insurance. You may also be able to meet important business contacts or mentors that could help you advance your career later on.
An entry-level business job can also give you the experience you need to successfully apply to an undergraduate business degree program. Although most programs at the undergraduate level do not require work experience, it could still help to strengthen your application in several ways.
To start with, you'll have worked with a supervisor who can give you a recommendation letter that highlights your work ethic or achievements. If your entry-level job offers opportunities to take on a leadership role, you'll be able to gain valuable leadership experience, something that is always important to admissions committees who are looking for candidates who are potential leaders.
In this article, we're going to take a look at five different business jobs you can get without a business degree. These jobs require just a high school diploma or the equivalent and could really help you advance your career or education in the banking, insurance, accounting, and business fields.
Bank tellers work for banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. Some of the duties they perform include processing cash or check deposits, cashing checks, making change, collecting bank payments (like car or mortgage payments), and exchanging foreign currency. Counting money is a big aspect of this job. Staying organized and keeping accurate records of every financial transaction is also important.
A degree is almost never required to become a bank teller. Most tellers can get hired with just a high school diploma. However, on-the-job training is almost always required to learn how to use the bank's software. With enough work experience, entry-level tellers can move up to more advanced positions like head teller. Some bank tellers also go on to become loan officers, loan underwriters, or loan collectors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that median annual wages for bank tellers exceed $26,000.
Nearly every industry employs bill collectors. Bill collector, also known as account collectors, are responsible for collecting payments on due or overdue bills. They use internet and database information to locate debtors and then contact debtors, typically via phone or mail, to request payment. Bill collectors spend most of their time answering debtor questions about contracts and negotiating payment plans or settlements. They may also be responsible for following up on negotiated resolutions to ensure that the debtor pays as agreed.
Most employers are willing to hire bill collectors who have just a high school diploma, but computer skills can increase your chances of getting hired. Bill collectors must follow state and federal laws related to debt collection (such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act), so on-the job training is typically required to ensure compliance. Most bill collectors are employed by professional, scientific, and technical service industries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that median annual wages for bill collectors exceed $34,000.
Administrative assistants, also known as secretaries, support the supervisor or staff of a business office by answering phones, taking messages, scheduling appointments, preparing business documents (like memos, reports, or invoices), filing documents, and performing other clerical tasks. In large companies, they sometimes work in a specific department, such as marketing, public relations, human resources, or logistics.
Administrative assistants that report directly to an executive are often known as executive assistants. Their duties are usually more complex and may involve creating reports, scheduling staff meetings, preparing presentations, conducting research, or handling sensitive documents. Most administrative assistants do not start out as executive assistants, but instead move up to this position after acquiring a few years of work experience.
The typical administrative assistant position requires just a high school diploma. Having basic computer skills, such as familiarity with software applications (like Microsoft Word or Excel), can increase your chances of securing employment. Many employers provide some type of on-the-job training to help new employees learn administrative procedures or industry-specific terminology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that median annual wages for administrative assistants exceed $35,000.
Insurance clerks, also known as insurance claims clerks or insurance policy processing clerks, work for insurance agencies or individual insurance agents. Their primary responsibilities include processing insurance applications or insurance claims. This may involve communicating with insurance clients, either in person and over the phone or in writing via mail or email. Insurance clerks may also be tasked with answering phones, taking messages, answering client questions, responding to client concerns, or recording cancellations. In some offices, insurance clerks may even be responsible for processing insurance payments or keeping financial records.
Unlike insurance agents, insurance clerks do not need to be licensed. A high school diploma is typically all that is required to earn a position as an insurance clerk. Good communication skills are helpful to securing employment. Most insurance agencies offer some form of on-the-job training to help familiarize new clerks with insurance industry terms and administrative procedures. With enough experience, an insurance clerk could pass the required exam to earn a state license to sell insurance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that median annual wages for insurance clerks exceed $37,000.
Bookkeepers use bookkeeping or accounting software to record financial transactions (i.e. money coming in and money going out). They commonly prepare financial statements like balance sheets or income statements. Some bookkeepers have special duties beyond keeping a general ledger. For example, they may be responsible for processing a company's invoices or payroll or preparing and tracking bank deposits.
Bookkeepers work with numbers every day, so they must be good with basic math (like adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing). Some employers prefer job candidates who have completed finance courses or bookkeeping certificate programs, but many are willing to hire candidates who have just a high school diploma. If on-the-job training is provided, it typically involves learning how to use a specific software program or mastering industry-specific skills like double-entry bookkeeping. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that median annual wages for bookkeepers exceed $37,000.