Business Administration vs. Business Management: What is the Difference?
If you’re interested in business as a career path, you may be overwhelmed with the choices in front of you. There’s marketing, accounting, sales, management, administration, and more.
However, if your goal is to start, build, or manage a successful business, you may be a bit confused about the difference between business administration and business management.
These career paths are very similar, so it’s important to understand the differences so you know which direction makes the most sense for your unique strengths, passions, and goals.
In this article, we’ll compare business administration and business management as career and educational paths. We'll discuss how they're different and look at some overlap before we discuss how to choose the best option for you.
Business Administration vs. Business Management: The Basics
Business administration and business management are two career paths that are differentiated by the level of business operations they're involved in.
Business administrators focus on the day-to-day business operations, whereas business managers focus on the bigger picture and higher-level decision-making.
With that in mind, let’s take a moment to explore a few key differences between the two.
What is Business Administration?
Business administration refers to the teams within an organization who manage day-to-day business operations. For some, business administration is a career. For others, it is a stepping stone for a role in business management.
Some examples of business administrator jobs include human resource officers, project management specialists, financial analysts, and business analysts. These roles require core skills, such as strong people and organizational skills, but some may require industry-specific skills or certifications.
What is Business Management?
Business management refers to the departments that run businesses at a high level. This could include executives and C-suite professionals, such as CEOs, sales managers, financial managers, and marketing directors.
Successful business managers typically have strong leadership skills. They're go-getters who excel in developing strategies and can guide their company in executing them. Management skills are also a must.
Intersections Between Business Management and Business Administration
As we’ve discussed, business administration and business management have clear differences. But there are also quite a few overlaps between these two disciplines. Here are a few major intersections between business administration and business management positions.
1. Course Work
From an education standpoint, business administration and management curriculums are very similar. A few core courses will vary from major to major, but the materials covered will be very much aligned. You’ll likely study business ethics, basic business law, and operations-related subjects.
Business students, in general, will cover core business concepts that can be applied in administrative and managerial business roles. They'll also focus on developing soft skills, such as:
- Communication skills
- Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
- Leadership, teamwork, and interpersonal skills
- Analytical skills
- Organization skills
Depending on the school, the degrees may require a different internship or capstone project, but you can count on them being similar otherwise.
For example, business administration students may have an internship with an office manager, whereas business management students are more likely to intern with C-level individuals.
Business administrators and managers have very similar average salaries. In fact, the two are so similar that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps them into a single career type.
The median salary for business administrators and managers is around $100,000 per year. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that some specific types of business managers earn a median salary ranging from about $50,000 to $160,000 per year.
3. Shared Goals
Business administration and management may have different micro-level goals, but the macro-level business goals are typically the same.
For instance, both roles are geared toward supporting the growth and well-being of businesses.
And you need to master both to contribute to the building and maintain a well-run business. In other words, without the collaboration of administration and management, running a successful business would be difficult.
4. Need for Organization
Organizational skills are extremely important whether you’re seeking an administrative or managerial role. To stay organized on a greater level, people in both types of roles need to have a broad understanding of the future of the business.
With that, having a board resolution from the company's directors is essential to know the next steps towards which it'll advance.
If you’re not familiar, a board resolution is a record of decisions made by board members that affect the company and its stakeholders.
Both administrators and managers must plan and organize all the resources necessary to achieve the company's objectives. It's paramount that they know fully and transparently the vision of the company's leaders, which is reflected in this resolution.
5. Awareness of Logistics
Logistics is a major overlap between business management and business administration.
Electronic logging devices (ELDs) uniquely bridge these domains by ensuring regulatory compliance with the ELD mandate, providing real-time insights into fleet performance, driving operational efficiency, and contributing to cost control.
Companies adopting ELDs have reported significant time savings, cutting paperwork hours by a remarkable 30–40%, all while receiving valuable data about drivers' hours of service and vehicle performance so they can properly track and manage their assets and equipment.
Choosing Between Business Administration and Business Management
As we’ve discussed, business administration and business management are very similar, with only a few small differences. Which path you choose will depend on your strengths and career goals.
Even if you aim to work at the management level, you may start with an administrative role. However, if your goal is to get a management job, you may opt for a business management program rather than a business administration program.
As long as you have the core skills we’ve identified above and are willing to learn the industry-specific skills for different business roles, your options will be wide open.
So, which career path feels more fitting for you?
About the Author
Emily Krings is an SEO content writer and strategist with a knack for storytelling. She specializes in helping B2B businesses create blog content that connects with their audiences.