World is your oyster with a good business qualification

A business degree opens up a wide range of career options along with the best prospects for financial reward and international travel


Of all the disciplines you could choose to study at third-level, business can open up the broadest array of career choices. It is also the one with the best prospects for financial rewards, career advancement and international travel.

Business students also learn a range of transferable skills, including analytical ability, critical thinking, problem-solving, team work, goal-setting, effective communication and time-management.

While business represents a very general area of study that could encompass such wide-ranging topics as management, marketing, law, accountancy, economics and maths, it’s equally true that you can choose to focus on very specific areas.

In fact, business courses are these days notable for their sheer diversity, helped by the huge extent to which business schools have collaborated with other fields of study such as IT, languages and law – even sociology – to create multidisciplinary or combination programmes.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that many of the most popular, broader business studies courses will, to a greater or lesser extent, enable their students to pick and choose from a whole variety of modules – almost like an à-la-carte menu – to create a course content blend that could be entirely your own.

And then there’s the increasing likelihood that whatever business course you choose will come with a valuable work placement.

Where to study

Almost all third-level institutions in Ireland offer business courses, with the competition particularly tough among the top colleges, including UCD, Trinity College, UCC, DCU and NUI Galway. UCD’s Bachelor of Commerce degree has a strong following, while Trinity’s business, economic and social studies (BESS) also ranks strongly among the most popular business degree programmes.

NUI Galway and UCC score points for offering their respective BComm programmes with a variety of languages, although UCC has a slighter wider choice, including Chinese and Italian.

The brownie points for course content innovation go to DCU’s Business School and UL’s Kemmy Business School. For instance, DCU’s BA in global business allows you to spend two years studying in a partner institution in France, Germany, Spain, the US or Canada, while those who want to become commercial pilots or work as a manager in the aviation sector should check out its BSc in aviation management with pilot studies.

Students at UL can do a course combining the study of economics and sociology or law and accounting.

Many of the institutes of technology deal heavily in business subjects, while smaller colleges like the National College of Ireland, Dublin Business School, and Griffith College also pride themselves on their solid reputations for business.

No two courses are exactly alike – even if they have similar titles – so it’s worth assessing each of them on their own merits if you are open-minded about which college to attend.

CAO points

Generally speaking, if you want to get into one of the top courses, you would need to aim for at least 500 points on average.

Career outcomes

Combine your studies with a foreign language, and the world could truly be your oyster.

The go-to industries for business studies graduates will include accounting, retail, digital marketing, banking and global commerce, but the chances are there will just as many opportunities in the civil service, the voluntary sector, science and engineering, the media, hospitality and tourism etc.

Many of the largest graduate recruiters naturally gravitate to those with business-related qualifications.

There you will get further training, which might later include the opportunity to do an employer-sponsored MBA.

Salary expectations It’s difficult to figure out average salaries in a field where there is such a diversity of roles, but it’s safe to say that business graduates are in a good position to command some of the highest salaries of any profession, and that there is huge scope for career progression.

According to the 2016 salary survey of recruitment firm Sigmar Recruitment, a financial accountant with a couple of years under their belt can expect a salary of at least € 50,000 a year, while an experienced financial controller would be in line for annual pay packet of € 90,000.

A HR manager with less than three years’ experience can expect to earn up to €70,000, but an experienced HR director could command up to €50,000, according to Morgan McKinley. An SEO specialist with a digital marketing agency can earn between €30,000 and €60,000 depending on experience and location, while the head of an agency can command up to €90,000.

In all cases, those working in Dublin can expect higher overall salaries than their counterparts in Galway, Cork, Limerick or Waterford.