Ecommerce, or e-business, is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Ecommerce organizations and vendors 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 ecommerce 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 ecommerce-related 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.
Choosing the Right Ecommerce Degree
Successf in ecommerce typically requires a thorough understanding of sales, marketing, web development and online consumer behavior. Because of this hybrid toolbox, many employers require at least a bachelor's degree for entry-level positions. For those who want to become an online entrepreneur, ecommerce degrees 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:
Length of Completion
Certificate in Ecommerce
Certificate programs typically take less than a year to complete. These programs are often geared toward working adults seeking to obtain new skills.
Associate in Ecommerce
These programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete.
Bachelor's in Ecommerce
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 Ecommerce 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 ecommerce 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 positions -- such as database administration or software engineering, both of which tie into the industry -- 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.
What to Expect in Ecommerce Programs
After enrolling in an ecommerce 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 ecommerce degree provides a broader breadth of knowledge for those seeking employment with related companies and organizations. Online degrees in ecommerce 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 varies by institution. Most programs will include core courses such as:
- Fundamentals of Ecommerce
- 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 ecommerce 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.
Benefits of an Online Degree Program
By nature, ecommerce vendors require employees to perform most of their work using computers and computer programs. Because the principal business is conducted 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.
Careers in Ecommerce
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 tech. 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:
Projected Job Growth 2014-2024
Mean Annual Wage in 2014
Advertising and Promotions Manager
Computer Software Developer/Engineer
To learn more about online degrees in ecommerce, request information from any of the schools listed below.
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