What is an office manager?
The office is a vital component of all businesses to some degree. It acts as the foundational building block for many and, at the very least, a support structure. It’s a gathering place to brainstorm, collaborate, and complete business goals. Office managers serve as the glue for that space. Their role is to ensure a smooth and efficient workplace by handling the bulk of the administrative tasks within their team of support staff.
If you want to become an office manager, possessing experience as a manager, especially in an administrative role, goes a long way in landing a job. Excellent communication, organization, and time management skills are all major pluses.
Duties and responsibilities
From managing schedules and meetings to booking accommodations or transportation for traveling staff, these managers play an integral part in the overall functionality of the office. They may additionally handle implementing and enforcing systems and policies and help with recordkeeping, among other tasks. Often, they act as essential liaisons between upper management and the office staff.
The typical work environment for an office manager is a centralized office location among their team and other departments. Often, the office manager acts as a greeter for visitors and customers coming to the office. Desks are located in a highly trafficked area where they are easily accessible. There may be occasional travel for training, meetings, and conferences.
Typical work hours
Office managers can expect to work a standard, full 40-hour workweek. The hours will align with the office’s main hours, typically nine to five. They may occasionally be asked to work overtime on weekends, evenings, or holidays to meet deadlines. There may also be travel expected, which would include some longer days.
Top skills for office managers
Most office manager positions require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Business administration is the top degree for office managers, but management, accounting, human resources, or any other business degree is also relevant. Experience working in an office is also important, so a minimum of two years of previous business experience will improve your chances of getting an interview.
In addition to education and employment, a few skills are required for an office manager position. Customer service and interpersonal skills are necessary. Strong leadership and organizational abilities will help candidates work with teams and get things done promptly and efficiently. Any experience with project management is good as well.
With management roles, candidates must have excellent verbal and written communication skills. You’ll need to be able to keep confidential information because the job deals with all kinds of information about employees and customers. And it never hurts to have some experience in IT and any software systems the company currently uses, like the Microsoft Office suite. Previous accounting and budgeting work is another plus.
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Types of office managers
Office managers cover many different industries, but many duties are similar regardless of the company or industry. The types of office managers can be grouped into four categories for the most part.
Corporate office manager
The most common office manager job is in corporate office management. These jobs include branch managers, district managers, and within the human resources and marketing departments. Corporations have many departments, and each has a leader responsible for the team’s daily activities and productivity.
Medical office manager
A medical office manager is responsible for the same tasks as the corporate office manager, but additional knowledge is required. Medical office managers supervise the medical assistants and must understand anatomy and basic laboratory procedures. Patient confidentiality is critical; this role is usually responsible for managing that within the office.
Legal office manager
Another more specialized position is a legal office manager. Working in a law office doesn’t necessarily mean you are a lawyer. Office managers in this space are in charge of the administrative assistants, payroll, and any HR duties within the firm. It requires some familiarity with practical law and procedures.
Virtual office manager
The final category for office managers is virtual office management. These managers typically help multiple small companies at one time. This role is becoming increasingly popular with more remote workers because there are fewer responsibilities without a physical office. However, companies still need help managing some of the office manager’s duties. It’s great for freelancers looking for multiple part-time positions.
Office managers cover many different departments within an organization, so someone can take many career paths. The next level after a manager is typically the director level. Many companies have an administrative director responsible for long-term planning and strategies.
Above the director level, people reach the executive level and seek out vice president roles and possibly the Chief Business Officer, which reports directly to the CEO.
Similar job titles
Position trends and outlook
As long as there are offices, there will be a need for office managers. They play a major role in the success and efficiency of the office. Team members must have someone to supervise them and counsel them when needed. Office managers are necessary for handling responsibilities like ordering supplies and creating budgets. They are the glue that keeps an office functioning, and with a 9% increase over the next ten years, this is a secure line of work to pursue.
Employment projections for office managers
Over the next decade, administrative services managers are expected to see a 6% increase in employment due to increased demand in various industries, including healthcare, education, and technology. The management of administrative tasks and personnel will become increasingly important as organizations grow and expand. New managers will also be needed to fill the position left by retiring office managers.
How much do office managers make?
There are many variables that go into determining how much an office manager makes, from company size to experience to education just to name a few. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top-paying places of employment and specific industries for office managers are (shown in annual mean salary):
- Management of companies and enterprises – $125,690
- Finance and insurance – $122,860
- Professional, scientific, and technical services – $119,450
- Local government, excluding education and hospitals – $100,070
- Educational services; state, local, and private – $94,410
The top-paying states for office managers to work in are (shown in annual mean salary):
- Delaware – $145,500
- New York – $144,810
- New Jersey – $141,450
- Rhode Island – $141,380
- Massachusetts – $138,760
The average national salary for an office manager is:
How to become an office manager
In order to become an office manager, you will need a combination of education, training, and experience. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to achieve your goal:
Step 1: Earn your education
In addition to a high school diploma, a college education will open up more opportunities for office management and business positions. Work towards a bachelor’s degree in business administration or something similar from an accredited college or university.
Step 2: Sign up for specific office management courses
Specialized education courses can be added to your resume to help you stand out more from the competition.
- Coursera partners with universities and colleges from all over to provide access to some of their courses and programs. There are over 300 business administration classes in their database to help give you additional education opportunities. Any of these courses would be a great supplement to a degree that isn’t specifically business administration. Check out the complete list and see which programs would be a good match for your interests.
- Office Management 101 from Udemy is a fantastic introduction to management. It provides instruction in the manager’s roles and responsibilities. It’s suitable for anyone in the healthcare industry and practice management.
- Another great Udemy option is the course, Become an Admin and Office Manager. This course covers the basics of office management. Everyone completing will be able to organize a binder, develop procedures, prepare checklists, understand succession planning, and collect the correct tools to be successful as an office manager.
Step 3: Acquire appropriate certifications
- Certified Business Office Manager (CBOM) – For this certification, there are no prerequisites. Candidates must pass an oral or written exam. The modules cover how to be the best office manager and provide tools for productivity, efficiency, and professionalism. Recertification is not required.
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA) – This certification requires a minimum of two years of education or training after high school. Candidates must also have at least two years of work experience and pass an oral or written exam. Though not strictly required as an office manager, knowing accounting and finance will set you apart from the other candidates. Recertification is required every 12 months.
- Certified Manager Certificate (CMC) – This certification is for mid-level managers and supervisors. It requires an oral or written exam. Recertification is not necessary.
- Project Management Professional (PMP) – This certification takes some time, but it gives you tons of incredible resources for leading and organizing projects. It requires a four-year degree, 36 hours of leading projects, and 35 hours of project management education/training or CAPM certification. There are options for candidates with a high school diploma to earn this, but they require additional hours of experience.
Step 4: Apply for jobs and internships
Submit your resume and cover letters to hiring managers for any jobs that fit your specific search specifications. Check job boards and online resources, like LinkedIn and Indeed, and communicate your availability to your network. There are many ways to learn about job openings, so try a few methods to ensure you’re catching all the available options.
Step 5: Volunteer for special projects
Once you are hired, gaining experience is critical for advancing your desired career path. If you can make it work with your schedule, volunteer for any special projects to learn more about other departments. Whether it’s a year-end clean-up project for the accounting team or a research assignment for marketing, you can gain real-world experience while boosting your visibility within your current organization.
Step 6: Pursure career advancement opportunities
Once you’ve been in the office manager role for a few years, start thinking about your next steps. Is there a larger company or group that you want to be a part of? Would you like to further your education and work in an executive-level role? Keep your eyes open for jobs and continue connecting with people within your industry to learn about potential opportunities.
Office manager career tips
Soft skills and traits for office managers
Work on your communication skills. Office managers must be skilled verbal and written communicators, so boost your skills and experience. Practice negotiation skills. You may have to negotiate in this role in many ways, so having some tactics under your belt is a good idea. Learn tricks for booking and managing travel. Many office managers are in charge of booking travel for other employees, and it’s good to have some experience.
Commonly required skills and qualifications
Have an organization plan for the companies you’re interviewing to document the changes you would make upon starting. Practice using project management software systems and get more familiar with different programs. Become a wizard at Microsoft Excel and spreadsheets. Watch videos to learn secrets with pivot tables and calculations to save time. Familiarize yourself with employment laws and HR basics for your city and state. A basic knowledge of your area’s legal requirements for hiring, firing, and disciplinary actions sets you apart.
Develop a professional network
Network with other office managers and people who work in the administrative side of the business. Here are a few great options to check out:
- National Management Association (NMA)
- Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals (AEAP)
- American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP)
- LinkedIn Professional Groups
- National Association of Professional Women (NAPW)
Where the jobs are
- Marriott International
- State Farm
- Robert Half
- New York
- District of Columbia
What does an office manager do?
Office managers make sure that the office functions efficiently on a day-to-day basis. The duties include managing employees, customer service, assisting the accountants, organizing paperwork, overseeing processes, and so much more. Each day looks different depending on the current projects and needs of the team and management.
What education is required to be an office manager?
Most office management roles require a bachelor’s degree in business administration or another business-related department. Some companies allow applicants to substitute more years of experience instead, so it’s possible to get an office manager role with a high school diploma or associate’s degree if you have the appropriate experience.
Is being an office manager a stressful job?
Office managers typically have their hands in many buckets simultaneously, so there can be a bit of stress. Time management and organization will reduce the overall stress a bit more. Like most business occupations, there will be busy seasons that will be a bit more hectic.
What are the typical hours for an office manager?
Office managers usually cover the typical business hours. Depending on the industry, some work may be required outside the usual nine-to-five schedule, but the schedule will be consistent most of the time.
Is an office manager part of HR?
The organization’s size will determine if there is a separate human resources department or if the office manager is involved in HR duties and responsibilities. Any manager with direct reports partially deals with HR because they are responsible for holding their team accountable and managing their work.
What makes a good office manager?
A strong office manager needs good organizational skills and project management experience. In addition, it’s essential to be an excellent communicator and have basic industry knowledge and computer skills with relevant software programs.
Do you need experience to become an office manager?
Office managers usually need at least two years of experience in the business world before applying for a manager role. Any experience in customer service, accounting, marketing, or human resources would be relevant to an office manager role.
What is the next level up for an office manager?
Office managers have strong advancement possibilities. The role gains experience and visibility with all the departments in an organization. The next level is the administrative director or another director-level role.
Are office managers in high demand?
Office managers will be necessary as long as businesses continue to utilize offices. There are predictions that the role will continue to grow by about 9% over the next decade.
How to get a job as an office manager?
If you are searching for a job as an office manager, you should have a degree in business administration or a related field. It’s good to have at least two years of experience in a business setting.
Do office managers manage people?
Office managers manage employees in a lot of companies. It depends on the size and structure of each organization, but it is typically a role that requires some experience managing people.