How to Become a Business Development Officer


A career as a business development officer could be a great fit for you if you have a passion for sales, market analysis and building professional relationships.


This field offers the chance to work in an office but get out of it frequently, the ability to forge relationships with a variety of stakeholders, great pay, and plenty of room for career advancement.


So, if you'd like to know more about the ins and outs of this field then read on; we’ll fill you in on what you would be doing for a living, how much you could earn, and what you’ll need to break into this profession!



Education Needed to Become a Business Development Officer

Employers often look for a bachelor’s degree in an area related to business (such as marketing, business administration, management, etc.). Some may accept a diploma or certificate in business, while others will look for an MBA, or other graduate degree.


Some employers might hire you without formal education, or if your education is in a non-business field, provided you have sufficient professional experience. 





Experience You'll Need 

Most employers will want you to have professional experience that’s related to the functions of your job, unless you have a graduate degree, such as an MBA. Even then, for more competitive roles, you may need a graduate degree and related experience.


Relevant experience includes any of the following (not an inclusive list):


• Working in a sales role

• Working in a marketing role

• Working in a finance role

• Working in product or service management

• Working on mergers and/or acquisitions in any capacity

• Having owned your own business

• Working on developing business plans, marketing, long-term strategic plans, feasibility studies or similar

• Working in fundraising or fund development

• Anything that enables you to acquire some of the skills listed below



Skills Needed to Be Successful

To be effective in your career as a business development officer, you'll need to have a certain set of skills, which includes:


• A good working knowledge of business plans, marketing plans, feasibility studies, short and long term strategic plans and related documents

• Excellent understanding of financial information, specifically related to funding requirements

• Able to recognize opportunities for synergistic, co-branded offerings

• Able to strategically assess business development opportunities

• Strong sales and negotiation skills

• Excellent research skills, database management skills

• Proficiency with Office software, such as Microsoft Excel

• The ability to ‘cold call’

• Strong public speaking skills, and ability to clearly communicate with clients, stakeholders and partners



General Job Description

As a business development officer, you would be responsible for helping your organization grow. You would do so by finding, analyzing and evaluating new business opportunities.


New opportunities could mean new markets, new partnerships with other businesses, acquisitions or mergers with other businesses, finding new ways to reach existing markets, or offering new products or services to better meet the needs of existing markets.


Once your research, analysis and evaluation are complete, you would then be responsible for creating and executing strategies to exploit these opportunities to create revenue. 



Duties Typical to the Job

Although your duties would vary from job to job, you could expect to perform duties similar to those described below, no matter where you work:


• Prepare feasibility studies, business plans, marketing strategies and financing proposals

• Develop portfolio of marketing materials

• Cultivate a sustainable supply of high qualified leads to create predictable revenue

• Establish distribution channels to get your product or service to market

• Supervise and support the activities of the business development team

• Maintain business development databases using Microsoft Excel and other software

• Build and leverage relationships to facilitate opportunities

• Support marketing activities such as trade shows, direct mailings, cold calling and others

• Ensure appropriate business/commercial licenses are in place

• Present progress reports to executive management and other stakeholders





Is this Profession Right for You?

To survive the ups and downs of a career as a business development officer, and to enjoy yourself along the way, you need to have a certain set of traits, including:


• Willing to ‘cold call’ to get on people’s radar

• A passion for the field in which you operate, and/or the tasks you will be executing

• A keen interest in building and fostering professional relationships

• Enthusiasm for sales, and setting sales targets

• Outgoing and friendly, and exceptional at building rapport with a wide range of people

• A general aptitude for business



Who Employs Them?

A very wide range of businesses, in virtually any sector, could potentially employ you: from accountancy to recruitment, and from education to manufacturing.


You might also find work with non-profit organizations, as they employ business development officers to increase their profile and their market share of fundraising.


If working for a non-profit, your title likely wouldn’t be ‘business development officer’. It would probably be ‘development associate’, or ‘fundraiser’.



Average Salary Level in This Profession

The salary level you could earn as a business development officer can vary, depending on the following factors:


• Your level of experience

• Your level of education

• The type of industry in which you work

• The region in which you work

• The scope of your job duties


Average Salary - Canada (Alberta figures only): According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (latest figures available at the time of writing), Albertans working in the Business Development Officers and Marketing Researchers and Consultants occupational group earn an average salary of $102,104 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing (June 26, 2019).


Median Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers occupational group is $123,450 per year.



Current Job Opportunities

Our job board below has business development officer postings in your area of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, when available:




Work Environment

Schedule: You’d most likely work standard office hours, Monday to Friday. Longer hours may be required to meet deadlines, or perform other functions, such as attend meetings, conferences, or visit a customer’s premises. Most jobs for business development officers are full-time, but part-time work should be available.


Setting: Your work would be based out of an office. It would also involve some travel, to meet with clients, media representatives, or other stakeholders. Fortunately, some organizations will provide you with a company vehicle.


Conditions: Because your work would directly affect your organization’s revenue, you would likely work very closely with the top executives. Your job will likely be stressful, particularly near deadlines, or when you’re having difficulty generating new business from your efforts. 



Career Advancement as a Business Development Officer

If you display competence in your job, and a solid work ethic, you will have plenty of opportunities to advance in your career. For example, you could:


• Advance to roles of greater responsibility and pay

• Become a senior development officer, or development/marketing executive

• Work as a freelancer or consultant in business development/marketing


Alternatively, you may choose to use your skills in sales, marketing and project management to move into other areas of business. 



Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or be in the same sector of industry, as business development officer:


• Advertising Manager

• Demographic Researcher

• Development Associate

• Economic Development Officer

• Marketing Director

• Public Opinion Interviewer




Please consult the following resources to learn more about what business development officers do for a living, and how you can become one:


Wages & Salaries in Alberta:Business Development Officers & Marketing Researchers & Consultants.” (n.d.). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 31, 2019.

Management:Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 31, 2019.

Explore Careers:Business Development Manager.” (September 4, 2019). National Careers Service website. Retrieved October 31, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Business Development Officer

The “Relevant Fields of Study” section below shows fields of study relevant to this profession. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful (or are necessary) for getting into this field. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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Business Development Officer