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Online Degrees in E-Commerce


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E-Commerce, or e-business, is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Companies involved in e-commerce create and design products and services which are then sold over the internet. According to Forrester Research, Inc., online sales in the United States will reach $370 billion by 2017. That is 10.3 percent of the projected total of all sales, up from 5.2 percent in 2012. As online sales grow, employers will need to hire employees with a strong understanding of the e-commerce industry.

An online degree in e-commerce could lead to a number of different exciting career paths. Graduates of e-commerce programs have the opportunity to work in online business fields like web development, online sales management, customer database administration, internet advertising, internet marketing, and more. For these types of positions, most employers request a bachelor's degree as a minimum requirement for employment. Students enrolled in e-commerce degree programs typically take courses in e-business, economics, marketing, and database structures.

Although a degree in any number of related business or marketing fields can help students land a job in e-business, an e-commerce degree is specifically aimed to prepare students for work in this industry. By combining their interests in business and technology, graduates are able to skillfully navigate both the demands of running a successful business and the intricacies of the online world.

To be successful in e-commerce, you need a thorough understanding of sales, marketing, web development, and online consumer behavior. Because of this, most employers require at least a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions. For those who want to become an online entrepreneur, online degrees in e-commerce provide a solid background in online business operations and techniques. Depending on the type of career path they wish to pursue, students will find program options ranging from the certificate level all the way up to master's degrees. This chart includes the various types of degrees available and which sort of positions those degrees may lead to:

Degree

Length of Completion

Potential Careers

Certificate in E-Commerce

Certificate programs typically take less than a year to complete. These programs are often geared toward working adults seeking to obtain new skills.

Web Developer

Associate in E-Commerce

These programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete.

Web Developer

Bachelor's in E-Commerce

These programs typically take four years of full-time study to complete.

Web Developer; Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager; Sales Manager; Database Administrator; Computer Software Developer/Engineer; Computer Programmer

Master's in E-Commerce Technology

These programs take up to two years of full-time study after completion of a bachelor's degree.

Database Administrator, Computer Software Developer/Engineer, Computer Programmer

Students should choose a degree program that aligns with their specific career goals and objectives. Those hoping to launch their own e-commerce business, for example, may wish to begin work quickly and obtain only the basic knowledge needed to start their new online business. In this instance, a certificate or associate degree program may be a good fit. However, students hoping to find work in highly technical e-commerce positions -- such as database administration or software engineering -- will probably need to seek a bachelor's or master's degree. Unless one is planning on becoming an online entrepreneur, most positions with e-commerce companies will require a bachelor's degree or higher.

After enrolling in an e-commerce degree program, students can expect to receive instruction that provides them with a well-rounded education in both business and technology. The field of e-commerce blends these two very different subjects, making online degrees in e-commerce a great fit for those seeking careers in online business. Specializations in the e-commerce field include:

  • Web Development
  • Online Sales
  • Internet Marketing and Advertising
  • Online Customer Database Administration
  • Internet Pricing and Promotion
  • Computer Programming
  • Computer Software Engineering

Many schools offer degree programs in fields related to these specializations. However, an e-commerce degree provides a broader breadth of knowledge for those seeking employment with e-commerce companies. Online degrees in e-commerce may help students obtain employment in a number of different areas pertaining to online business, rather than just one specific field offered by more focused degrees.

Specific curriculum for e-commerce degrees varies by institution. Most programs will include core courses such as:

  • Fundamentals of E-Commerce
  • Internet Marketing
  • Principles of Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Fundamentals of Management
  • Management Information Systems (MIS)
  • Introduction to Economics
  • E-Business Strategies

With a number of different degree programs available, potential e-commerce students have plenty of educational options. Before selecting a specific program, students should consider the type of career they wish to pursue and the length of the program required. Some positions in the field may require additional specialized training or knowledge of specific technologies.

By nature, e-commerce businesses require employees to perform most of their work using computers and computer programs. Because e-commerce is based online, students interested in this field should see pursuing their degree online as a natural first step. While completing courses online, students will communicate with their peers and professors using a number of different online mediums. Message boards, video chat, and online networking events are just some of the ways online students gain an understanding of the materials covered while interacting with peers and making connections that can be used to further their careers in the real world.

For working professionals, parents, or students with other commitments, an online degree can be an excellent way to further their education. Online programs are typically more flexible than their on-campus counterparts. With most online degree programs, students have 24-hour access to their lectures and course materials. This flexibility makes it easy to design a study schedule around their already busy lives. That way, online students are able to complete their school work at a time that is convenient for them.

Online businesses require employees who possess many of the same talents and skills sought by traditional brick-and-mortar businesses. There are a wide variety of careers available to those whose skill set blends a mastery of business and technology. Here are a few of the most popular options, complete with relevant wage and employment data as cited by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Career

Projected Job Growth 2014-2024

Mean Annual Wage in 2014

Web Developer

27 percent

$68,670

Advertising and Promotions Manager

5 percent

$114,700

Marketing Manager

9 percent

$137,400

Sales Manager

5 percent

$126,040

Database Administrator

11 percent

$82,280

Computer Software Developer/Engineer

17 percent

$106,050

Computer Programmer

-8 percent

$82,690

To learn more about online degrees in e-commerce, request information from any of the schools listed below.


Sources:
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm
Computer Programmers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm
Database Administrators, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/database-administrators.htm
May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
Sales Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/sales-managers.htm
Software Developers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm
"U.S. Cross-Channel Retail Sales to Reach $1.8 Trillion By 2017," Forrester Research, Inc., https://www.forrester.com/Forrester+US+CrossChannel+Retail+Sales+To+Reach+18+Trillion+By+2017/-/E-PRE6324
Web Developers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/web-developers.htm

As a husband, father, and a corporate trainer who traveled, I knew that the campus experience would be difficult, if not impossible, since I couldn't be sure that I would be in town on a given night each week. Additionally, I had taken an online class during my earlier, mostly on-campus college experience and found that it worked out okay. - Brandon Pipkin 
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