Diverse career paths with good prospects

Career Guide: Business

Business offers a hugely diverse range of courses and career paths in virtually every industry. It is a good career path for students interested in the fast- paced world of commerce with good prospects for career advancement, high salaries and international travel.

Business students learn the arts of critical thinking, research, analysis and communication – and they are among the most highly paid of all graduates. These degrees can be broad or highly specialised.

While accounting and actuarial students are focused on the numbers, a grá for maths is not an absolute essential for business, with areas such as human resources, marketing and communications and sales and procurement drawing more heavily on people skills.

Where to study it:

Somewhat fittingly, there is major competition between third-level institutions to attract business students. UCD is the most established provider of business education, and its bachelor of commerce course remains hugely popular. Trinity’s business economic and social studies (BESS) degree continues to draw in a large crowd.


Both the Kemmy Business School at UL and the DCU Business School offer some of the more innovative courses. Among other options, students at UL can tackle law and accounting, economics and mathematical science and economics with sociology.

Meanwhile, DCU undergrads can take to the skies with a BSc in aviation management, or turn their attentions stateside with a BA in global business (US), which will allow them to study for two years in the United States.

There are even more unique and specialised options. NUI Maynooth offers the country's only BBS with equine studies, helping graduates develop the skills to work in Ireland's multimillion euro horseracing industry, while Dún Laoghaire IADT is a good option for students who want a career in the arts, with a well-regarded course in business studies and arts management.

Don't ignore the smaller operators: the Dublin Business School has a solid reputation for business education, with human resource management and accounting among the options. The National College of Ireland also offers Level 8 courses in business, accounting,and human resource management.

Increasingly, students are opting for business courses that also have a language component, with German, French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese among the options available as part of UCD’s hugely popular international commerce course.

Trinity College also offers business studies with a language, including Polish, Russian, German and Spanish. Business with language options are also available at UL, DCU, NUI Galway, WIT, UCC and DIT.

The biggest growth area is, perhaps, business with Chinese, with courses on offer at UCD, UCC and DIT.

Some of the best business courses will have some element of work placement or international exchange. These include many of the business courses at on offer at UCD, UCC, DCU, and NUI Galway. It is worth checking out if your business course offers this.

Career opportunities:

There is no area of life where business graduates are not needed. In almost every field, people with a knowledge of budgetary control and business management are essential.

While business graduates may find themselves working in retail, banking, accounting or global commerce, they are equally likely to work in the civil service, the charity sector, media, science and engineering industries, hospitality and tourism . . . the list is endless.

Graduates can also work in marketing, human resources, consultancy, sales or procurement. The digital marketing industry is a huge growth area. It’s also a good route to take if you’d like to work for yourself, providing you with the skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur or a consultant.

Although demand for business courses did fall slightly during the recession, it remains a resilient sector of the economy.

Big companies often take in business graduates and provide them with further training. Internships are becoming more common.

Many business professionals will go on to further study, with MBA programmes among the most popular and internationally recognised postgraduate professional development options.

Salary expectations:

Business graduates have among the highest salaries of any profession – just look at all that furore over bankers’ bonuses.

However, salaries, as may be expected, will rise with experience and the huge diversity of career areas is reflected by a huge range of salaries.

Accountants and financial management graduates can expect to start off at about €22,500; banking, insurance, and financial service graduates can expect a starting salary of €25,500.

Recruitment firm CPL says that a financial analyst can earn €45,000-€58,000 a year, but the salary of a financial controller may be as high as €100,000. A supply chain manager can take in from €55,000- €75,000; fund accountants can earn up to €70,000, while a marketing manager can make €50,000-€90,000.

At the top end of the scale, a human resources director can earn upwards of € 140,000.