The 2021 Guide to Online Business Management Certificates and Courses

Financial corporations. Healthcare organizations. Marketing companies. Law firms. Tech giants.
In each of these work settings, you may find a skilled business manager. A startup, 50-person nonprofit, or single client can also benefit from the services of a business manager. Regardless of where they work, business managers are usually the critical thinkers and strong communicators who strategize, implement and oversee daily business practices to ensure increased productivity and growth. Some days, they may be busy writing business proposals. And other days, they may be involved in bookkeeping or called upon to share market research with their team. Specific job duties vary from one professional to another, but a strong background in business management can help to prepare them for the job.

One way to gain business management expertise is to take online courses in business management. You can also earn an online graduate certificate in business management. These two options may help individuals gain the relevant knowledge and skills to become a business manager. They are also useful for professionals looking to advance their career. Continue reading to learn about online business management courses available to you and job options across an array of industries.

Can You Study Business Management Online?

Perhaps you’ve graduated from a bachelor’s degree program in business management. You have the option to build on your undergraduate studies by obtaining a graduate certificate in business management or taking select online courses based on your interests, availability, and most importantly, your career goals.

There are many benefits to taking online business management classes. For one, you don’t have to worry about relocating closer to the school offering the courses or deal with lengthy commutes to and from campus. As a distance learner, you can access course content from any location.

Course content comes in various formats. There are live online classes that meet virtually at a set time and date. There are also self-paced business management online courses that you can complete on your own schedule.

There are many options for online business management classes, so consider carefully how you learn best, how much time and money you have available for education, and what you hope to achieve through your studies.

Topics in Business Management Online Courses

What is business management? Business management is all about the coordination and organization of various business activities. Many topics fall under the larger umbrella of business management, such as:

  • Advertising
  • Budgeting and planning
  • Customer service
  • Finance
  • Inventory control
  • Legal issues
  • Marketing
  • Organizational behavior
  • Packaging
  • Record keeping
  • Risk management

Business management online courses can allow you to gain core competencies like problem-solving and leadership skills. When coupled with an in-depth understanding of management theory and practice and business trends, these skills can help business managers to develop sustainable solutions to problems they encounter in the workplace.

If you want to learn how to become a business manager online, there are a variety of business management courses you can take, covering a range of topics or specialties including those mentioned above.

Business Management vs Project Management

There is an important difference between business management and project management. Business management deals with the processes involved in running a business. And project management is the practice of applying specific processes to plan, execute and manage projects with a defined, finite scope, timeline, and resources. Business management and project management involve many of the same domains, such as procurement, human resources, communications, and risk management. But project management is focused on the goals of individual projects, while business management is focused on maintaining the business as a whole. You may also take online courses in project management.

Online Business Risk Management Certificates and Courses

In a volatile and unpredictable world, risk management may help to keep companies from taking a big hit. Without it, businesses wouldn’t be able to identify and assess risk factors and ultimately control future outcomes. A risk manager helps business leaders optimize success by minimizing threats and maximizing opportunities. Risk management courses can prepare you to manage uncertainty. When studying to become a risk manager, your online courses may cover concepts and areas such as:

  • Risk management frameworks
  • Corporate governance and enterprise risk management
  • Decisions and uncertainty
  • Risk identification
  • Risk assessment
  • Risk response
  • Risk reporting

With training in risk management, you can work in finance and related fields. You may also find jobs in the construction, transportation or energy industries, and more.

Online Strategic Business Management Certificates and Courses

Strategic business management entails planning, monitoring, analyzing and assessing the different factors a business or organization, to determine how those factors can impact business goals. So, a strategic manager is often responsible for helping to shape long-term business strategy and developing ways to realize company objectives. Strategic management online courses and certificate programs may benefit professionals at various stages of their careers. These offerings focus on topics such as:

  • Theory and evolution of strategic management
  • Discerning organizational goals and values
  • Conducting internal and SWOT analyses
  • Developing sustainable competitive advantage
  • Strategy implementation
  • Evaluation and control
  • Strategic alignment and ensuring sustainability

With a background in strategic management, you can pursue jobs in the financial and public administration sectors, and multiple other areas.

Online Supply Chain Management Certificates and Courses

In a fast-changing global economy, effective supply chain management can be both complex and vital. It is the process that allows companies to improve service levels to customers. Supply chain managers must be able to develop a cost-effective supply chain plan that incorporates procurement, inventory, storage, demand, and transportation management. When studying supply chain management online, you can expect to cover the following areas and more:

  • Procurement management
  • Inventory management
  • Warehousing and storage management
  • Forecasting and demand management
  • Transportation management
  • Containers and packaging
  • Reverse logistics and investment recovery
  • Managing the international supply chain
  • Creating a competitive advantage

While many supply chain managers work in logistics, warehousing, transportation, inventory control, or purchasing, supply chain management courses may also be helpful for those working in marketing, sales, customer service, and retail.

Online Business Operations Management Certificates and Courses

Business operations is a broad management discipline that in many ways is a complement to strategic business management. While strategic business management is focused on moving the company forward, business operations focuses on what it takes for a business to run smoothly in the present, so that it can continue to grow in the future. Some business operations courses may include:

  • Process types, management and measurement
  • Location and facility design
  • Organizing and managing people
  • Forecasting, demand and capacity management
  • Production and service planning
  • Project management
  • Inventory and supply chain management
  • Quality management and financial analysis in operations management
  • Operations strategy and lean thinking

Learning about business operations management online can prepare you to manage the operations of a team, department, and even an entire company once you gain enough experience. Business operations managers can find employment across a range of industries, from healthcare to manufacturing.

Online Business Sustainability Management Certificates and Courses

With challenges such as climate change, social inequality, pollution, and other environmental problems, sustainability has become a hot topic for businesses and governments. Sustainability in business generally addresses two areas: the effect the business has on the environment, and the effect the business has on society. Making an effort to address these effects can improve a company’s bottom line by reducing production costs and increasing sales to a socially-conscious marketplace. Essentially, business sustainability may be a viable way to profitability. You can learn about important topics in sustainability management online, such as:

  • Sustainability challenges and opportunities
  • The business case and leadership for action
  • Regulatory environment and international policy
  • Production and consumption
  • Design, technology, and planning for sustainability
  • Communication and marketing
  • Collaboration and partnerships
  • Rewiring your business approach

Professionals and business owners in a variety of industries may benefit from incorporating business sustainability principles into their work.

Online Digital Business Strategy Certificates and Courses

Digital business strategy goes beyond using new technology to perform tasks. Digital business strategy is about reimagining how people use machines, how physical products interact with digital platforms, and how knowledge spreads in the digital age. Digital business strategy courses may explore topics like:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Business platforms in the digital economy
  • Crowdsourcing knowledge
  • The impact of technology on organizational structure
  • The changing roles of managers and leaders

Digital business strategy courses are offered by a variety of individuals and organizations, some of which are affiliated with traditional learning institutions. Indeed, a common strategy in digital business is to turn knowledge into sellable products. Make sure you vet courses carefully, looking at the instructor’s expertise.

Online Business Compliance Management Certificates and Courses

Laws and regulations can be complex and are often subject to reform. Businesses that do not remain compliant with laws, new and old, run the risk of litigation, fines, and other penalties. Professionals working in business compliance management help companies learn about their compliance responsibilities, communicate those responsibilities to employees, ensure that business processes and operations incorporate those requirements, and take corrective action when necessary. When taking business compliance courses online, you may learn about:

  • Effective corporate governance
  • Structuring a compliant organization
  • Creating the right culture for compliance
  • Compliance risk as an element of the risk universe
  • Compliance risk management planning
  • Control design
  • Monitoring and reporting

Taking courses in business compliance management online or obtaining a business compliance management certificate can help to prepare you for a strategic role in corporate governance, compliance management, or a related field.

Is a Business Management Course or Certificate Worth It?

There are many benefits of an online business management certificate. For early-career professionals, it may be a way to increase your knowledge and explore your interests in the business world regardless of geographic location. Business management courses may also enable mid-career individuals to learn new skills and improve their leadership ability. Overall, cost factors and time constraints might prevent some people from getting a full degree, such as a master’s degree. That’s when an online business management certificate comes in. It can help anyone gain valuable skills, experience, and professional connections without committing the time and money necessary to obtain a full degree.

Business Management Certificate vs Master's in Business Administration

A master’s in business administration, or MBA, is a graduate degree for business professionals. MBA programs typically last 18 to36 months. The price of an MBA varies by school but generally, it can cost thousands of dollars. A graduate certificate in business management on the other hand, may be completed in as few as six weeks, often for a cheaper price.

It’s likely a business management certificate program or standalone business management course will not provide the breadth of knowledge an MBA would. These options cover the more authoritative aspects of business, while a business administration degree program is broader in scope and may explore certain management functions. But if you do not need a wide curriculum, you can use these smaller programs to add specific skills to your resume.

3 Benefits of an Online Business Management Certificate or Short Course Program

Taking business management courses online can be beneficial to your career and current lifestyle. Here are just three perks to completing an online business management certificate or short course:

1. Develop Your Leadership Abilities

It is one thing to be able to do your own work well, but managing other employees and processes is a step up the leadership ladder. You may have already learned specific marketable skills such as accounting, marketing, or sales, but taking management courses can help to prepare you to become a business manager. You can learn from established business leaders and also connect with other professionals in different industries.

2. Learn How to Lead Remotely

Taking online coursework may help you learn more about leading remote teams. You’ll get to practice using digital tools such as Google Docs, Zoom, and others in a low-stakes environment, that allow you to connect with members outside of your community. This can be helpful when it’s your turn to lead a remote team. In addition to mastering the technology, you will also be better prepared to build relationships and communicate virtually after taking online classes.

More and more businesses, including large companies, are offering telework options or even going fully remote. Knowing how to leverage technology to lead a remote team may give you an additional edge beyond the management skills you learn through online courses.

3. Obtain a Certificate in as Few as 8 Weeks

You might be wondering how long does it take to get a business management certificate? Certificate programs vary in length but here are options that can be completed in as few as eight weeks. Within that time frame, you can learn a new skill or advance your knowledge of a topic you already know about.

Many online business management certificates are self-paced, which means you don’t have to attend meetings at a specific time as long as you complete assignments on time. Others require scheduled virtual meetings where you meet with instructors and fellow classmates to ask questions and work together. Online business management courses can be an efficient, flexible way to add to your business skill set and ultimately advance your career.

Last Updated June 2020