Business, Sales and Accounting: Do You Have What It Takes? Part 3

Spotlight: Human Resources

Important Qualities 

Ability to Make Decisions. As a human resource manager, you will be called on to make critical decisions which can have a significant impact on workers or operations, such as deciding whether or not to hire or fire an employee.

Work Well with Others. In human resources, you will need highly developed interpersonal skills. Human resources personnel regularly interact with people. They often collaborate on teams and must develop positive working relationships with their colleagues.

Organizational skills. Individuals who work in human resources must be able to manage several projects at once, prioritize tasks, and effectively follow-through.

Communication. Human resources managers rely on communication skills, both written and spoken, to give presentations and work with staff. They must clearly communicate project plans and tasks to others within the organization.4 

Typical Duties 

Human resources employees typically do the following:

  • Build an organization to best use employee talents
  • Act as a liaison between an organization’s management and its employees by handling questions, administering employee services, and resolving work-related problems
  • Understand and update managers on organizational policies
  • Handle and direct recruitment, interview, selection, and hiring processes
  • Be responsible for staffing issues, such as mediating disputes, firing employees, and directing disciplinary procedures.5 

Education Required 

To work in human resources, you will need a Bachelor’s in Human Resources or a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. If you do get a bachelor’s degree in something other than human resources, it is advisable to take courses in human resource subjects, like labor or industrial relations, organizational behavior or development, or industrial psychology.

To reach higher levels of human resources management, you may need to earn a Master’s in Human Resources or Labor Relations, or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.6 For adults who need to work while earning additional credentials, online colleges and universities offer a variety of a master’s degree programs, including ones in business and human resources. Before enrolling, you can help fill any prerequisites you may need through self-paced, low-cost online classes in subjects such as calculus, economics, or psychology.

Spotlight: Sales

Important Qualities 

Analytic Mindset. Sales staff must collect and interpret sales and marketing data to target potential customers and determine the most effective sales strategies.

Excellent communication. In sales, you will be working with people inside and outside your organization. You must be able to communicate effectively, persuasively, and clearly.

Customer-service know-how. In sales, you must be able to listen, understand, and respond appropriately to customer’s needs.7 

Typical Duties

Sales personnel typically do the following:

  • Sell products and services to customers
  • Assist with and/or help resolve customer complaints around sales and service
  • Work within budgets and, if a sales manager, approve budget expenditures
  • Understand customers and, if a sales rep, network, network, network!
  • Read, prepare, and analyze sales statistics
  • Create sales projections
  •  Assess requirements for discount rates or prepare special pricing plans8
  •  Interact with marketing and advertising staff within your organization. 

Education Required

To work in sales management, you will need a bachelor’s degree; many sales managers also have a Master’s in Business Administration. You will find that educational requirements are more fluid for those working in sales that have significant work experience as a sales representative. However, it is advisable to add on to your education with courses in business law, management, economics , accounting, finance, mathematics, marketing, and business statistics .9

Your Business Degree Checklist

As you contemplate whether or not a career in business is right for you, review this checklist:

  1. Are you analytical?
  2. Are you detail oriented?
  3. Are you a people person?
  4. Do you like to network with people you don’t know?
  5. Are you organized?
  6. Do you have strong math skills?
  7. Do you enjoy speaking in front of people?
  8. Do you have excellent communication skills?
  9. Are you comfortable with technology?
  10. Work well within a team with a common goal?

The skills required to be successful in business cover the full spectrum of strengths an employee might have. If you find yourself responding strongly to questions about being analytical, detail-oriented, and organized – then accounting and finance might be a great fit for you. If you find yourself more aligned with people, speaking, and networking skills – then you might find that sales, marketing, and human resources would be a better fit.

No matter which path in business you see yourself taking, if you feel inspired about working within a team to reach a common goal, you may just have what it takes to earn a degree in business.


4Bureau of Labor Statistics, How to Become a Human Resources Manager, 2012, p.1
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm#tab-4

5Bureau of Labor Statistics, What Human Resources Managers Do, 2012, p.1
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm#tab-2

6Bureau of Labor Statistics, How to Become a Human Resources Manager, 2012, p.1
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm#tab-4

7Bureau of Labor Statistics, How to Become a Sales Manager, 2012, p.1
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/sales-managers.htm#tab-4

8Bureau of Labor Statistics, What Sales Managers Do, 2012, p.1
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/sales-managers.htm#tab-2

9Bureau of Labor Statistics, How to Become a Sales Manager, 2012, p.1
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/sales-managers.htm#tab-4