Business Administration vs. Business Management: A Guide

Updated June 29, 2023

People gathered around a table, busily working.

Business administration focuses on strategic planning vs. business management concentrating on the day-to-day management of people and resources. Both offer the chance to specialize and pursue lucrative careers. Understanding the core principles and primary positions may help you determine which path is right for you and your career goals.

In this article, we discuss business administration versus business management, their differences, salary information and duties for four job options in each.

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What is business administration?

Business administration covers many of the tasks related to operating a company. It refers to overseeing an organization to keep it running smoothly and efficiently. Due to its broad scope, business administration may include the following duties:

  • Manage employees

  • Make decisions related to company growth

  • Oversee the day-to-day operations of a business

  • Keep staff focused on common goals

  • Organize all aspects of the company for effective operations

It's a vast field that includes numerous positions. Nearly every type of business, from a small startup to a large corporation, relies on business administration experts to ensure success.

Related: Business Administration: Definition and 27 Career Paths

What is business management?

Business management focuses on deploying the organization's resources to maximize productivity. Individuals in business management often hold leadership roles in which they oversee the day-to-day duties of team members within their department. They can directly influence how businesses operate, develop growth strategies and market themselves.

Effective business management creates a work environment that encourages employee communication and helps employees plan, direct, control and organize different goals and projects. Experts in business management often help employees develop skills and facilitate collaboration to further company objectives. These roles may require refined interpersonal and leadership skills.

Related: What Is a Business Management Degree? (With Potential Career Paths)

Business management vs. business administration

Here are a few differences between business administration versus business management:

Difference between business administration and business management degree programs

When studying business administration, students often learn about typical business subjects. Once they understand the different general business roles, they select one and declare it their major. For example, a student may major in business administration and choose accounting as their specialty. Often, business administration students hope to learn more about business to determine which specific position to pursue.

Business management students take courses to help increase their leadership skills and explore specialties within the business field, like human resources, communications, ethics and management. These students often participate in events or organizations that help them develop their management skills, such as student organizations within the business department, student government or different academic clubs. Many business management courses focus on interpersonal communications and career development.

Related: What Can You Do With a Business Administration Degree?

Difference between business administration and business management courses

The two degrees can have similar core courses in the undergraduate program, such as:

  • Accounting

  • Business law

  • Business ethics

  • Microeconomics and macroeconomics

The differences in courses in a business administration program include taking advanced economics and spreadsheet applications classes. Students in these programs may also enroll in elective courses related the computer information topics. As for a business management program, these students can take marketing fundamentals and business strategy classes.

Difference between business administration and business management in the workplace

Business administration employees often start working in a specific department within a business that leverages their specialty area. They dedicate their efforts to a single department rather than overseeing several teams or processes across functions. They administer the efficiency of a company's core operations and engage in research, strategic planning and forecasting.

Business management employees often start in positions where they develop skills to help them manage people and lead a department. Many organizations expect business managers to assume leadership roles and oversee daily business tasks and operational duties. Once a business manager achieves a higher-level position, they may manage other employees and make department-level decisions.

Related: The Best Business Degrees for Your Field

Careers in business administration

Here are some careers you can pursue related to business administration:

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit

1. Marketing specialist

National average salary: $57,220 per year

Primary duties: Marketing specialists work with sales and product teams to build campaigns around different products, analyzing distinct target audiences and strategizing how to sell to them. They regularly serve in various roles within the marketing department, including content management, market analysis and product marketing. They aim to determine what effectively sells a product or service.

Find marketing specialist jobs

Read more: What Does a Marketing Specialist Do? (With Job Requirements)

2. Accountant

National average salary: $61,249 per year

Primary duties: An accountant creates financial reports for departments of a company to ensure accounts remain responsible and stable. They also track and analyze data involving financial decisions. Accountants strategize and recommend changes to help leadership manage proper spending habits.

Find accountant jobs

Read more: Learn About Being an Accountant

3. Human resources specialist

National average salary: $63,954 per year

Primary duties: Human resources (HR) specialists are responsible for potential and current employees. They recruit employees for a company and conduct screenings and interviews. Many also work with current employees to build company culture and engagement. They also may handle employee tax forms, payroll documents and personal information.

Find human resources specialist jobs

4. Business analyst

National average salary: $82,815 per year

Primary duties: Business analysts compile reports to determine what a business requires to improve. They work on the developmental side of a company, using software to create and analyze strategies to grow the business. They typically fulfill the role of project manager and work on individual initiatives to find solutions to benefit the company.

Find business analyst jobs

Read more: Learn About Being a Business Analyst

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Careers in business management

Here are some examples of careers you can pursue related to business management:

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit

1. Operations manager

National average salary: $69,561 per year

Primary duties: An operations manager oversees different departments within a company. Many work with HR, sales and marketing teams to ensure the completion of tasks and goals. They encourage engagement among employees and develop different budgets and financial plans. Operations managers ensure employees receive the resources necessary to succeed.

Find operations manager jobs

Read more: Learn About Being an Operations Manager (With 5 Steps)

2. Management analyst

National average salary: $73,096 per year

Primary duties: Management analysts frequently create manuals to help outline overall procedures and document best practices to follow as an effective manager. They do this by conducting studies and measuring the performance analytics of leadership.

Find management analyst jobs

3. Sales manager

National average salary: $73,511 per year

Primary duties: Sales managers lead a sales team to increase the overall performance of the sales department. They train and motivate employees to meet quotas, engage with potential customers and assist with sales challenges. Typically, this role creates strategies to enhance the sales team's efficiency and acts as a mentor.

Find sales manager jobs

Read more: Learn About Being a Sales Manager

4. Financial reporting manager

National average salary: $111,132 per year

Primary duties: A financial reporting manager works heavily with legal and accounting teams. They develop strategies to assess different financial costs within a company and analyze financial and accounting documents to determine if a specific expense can benefit the company.

Find financial reporting manager jobs

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