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Office Manager Career Guide

What is an office manager?

An office manager is an essential figure within the workspace, responsible for maintaining and ensuring the efficiency of daily operations within an office setting. Their role extends beyond mere administrative tasks; they are the gears that keep the office machine running smoothly. Often seen as the nexus of communication, they maintain order and structure in an otherwise chaotic environment.

By handling a broad spectrum of tasks – from resource allocation to personnel management – these professionals enable other employees to perform their jobs effectively. They work in the background to create a functional, organized, and welcoming workplace, often anticipating needs and solving organizational problems before they escalate.

Duties and responsibilities

The office manager plays a multifunctional role in the administration and operation of an office. They are entrusted with a broad spectrum of responsibilities that ensure the office is an efficient and productive environment. Their tasks often include overseeing administrative staff, managing office budgets, and developing intra-office communication protocols.

They are tasked with the upkeep of office facilities and may also manage contracts and negotiations with office vendors, service providers, and office lease management. Implementing and maintaining procedures/office administrative systems and designing filing systems are also part of their responsibilities. These managers ensure that safety policies are up to date and adhered to. In smaller offices, they might also perform tasks related to human resources, such as maintaining staff records and managing benefits.

Work environment

The work environment for an office manager is typically within the confines of an office. They are often stationed at a central location or in an individual office where they can oversee the operations. The environment is generally fast-paced and requires the manager to be proactive and able to handle a variety of challenges throughout the day.

The role may involve a substantial amount of time seated at a desk working on a computer or speaking on the phone, although it can also include moving around the office to interact with staff and manage facilities. They typically work closely with all levels of staff and may have to manage not only people but also the physical space of the office.

Typical work hours

The typical work hours for an office manager are during regular business hours, such as 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. However, depending on the specific demands of the office and its industry, they may sometimes need to arrive early, stay late, or work some weekends to oversee important projects or events, meet deadlines, or manage office relocations.

The job might not include a significant amount of overtime, but flexibility is often a requirement for the role. This position does not typically involve shift work, and office managers can generally expect to work a consistent schedule that corresponds with the operational hours of their office.

How to become an office manager

In order to become an office manager, you will need a combination of education, training, and experience. In this career guide section, we cover 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 toward 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.

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.

Highest paying industries

  • Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers: $70,000
  • Monetary Authorities: $68,000
  • Securities and Commodity Contracts Intermediation and Brokerage: $67,000
  • Software Publishers: $66,000
  • Legal Services: $65,000

Highest paying states

  • New York: $75,000
  • New Jersey: $72,000
  • Massachusetts: $70,000
  • California: $69,000
  • Connecticut: $68,000

Browse office manager salary data by market

Types of office managers

Office managers cover many different industries, but many duties are similar regardless of the company or industry. The types 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.

Top skills for office managers

This career guide section outlines the skills and abilities that will help you find success as an office manager.

Organizational capabilities

The ability to organize and streamline office procedures is crucial. They are often responsible for maintaining office supplies, managing mail distribution, and ensuring office equipment is functioning properly. A knack for creating an orderly environment allows for enhanced productivity and a well-maintained workplace.

Administrative expertise

These professionals typically oversee administrative tasks; this could include record keeping, managing office budgets, and setting up efficient workflow policies. Their attention to detail ensures that all administrative duties are completed accurately and on time, which is vital for the smooth operation of the business.

Staff management proficiency

Effective managers are skilled in supervising staff, often handling or overseeing hiring, training, and sometimes payroll processing. They play a key role in team development, conflict resolution, and maintaining morale. The ability to lead, motivate, and maintain a positive work environment is essential for this role.

Understanding of office operations

A comprehensive understanding of overall office operations enables them to coordinate all activities that facilitate the proper functioning of an office. This includes a good grasp of how each department functions and interrelates, which is important for coordinating efforts and improving efficiency across the organization.

Communication and interpersonal skills

Being the central point of contact within the office, they must exhibit excellent communication and interpersonal skills. These managers interact with a variety of stakeholders, from employees to suppliers and clients, necessitating clear and effective communication. They also need to be able to resolve disputes and handle sensitive information with discretion.

Office manager career path

The career trajectory for an office manager often commences in roles that hone organizational and administrative skills, such as administrative assistant or office coordinator. Mastery of office procedures, competence in software like Microsoft Office Suite, and strong communication abilities are fundamental in these initial positions.

As one ascends to the manager role, responsibilities expand to include managing administrative staff, developing office policies, overseeing budgeting for office supplies and equipment, and ensuring that all operations run smoothly and efficiently. These professionals are pivotal in creating a productive work environment and may also handle HR-related duties such as coordinating employee records and benefits.

With years of experience and a proven track record, they can progress to higher management roles such as operations manager, where the scope of oversight includes the entire company’s operations, not just office administration. An adept manager with strategic vision might also transition into roles like business manager or chief administrative officer (CAO), participating directly in executive-level decision-making and organizational planning.

Those with specialized experience in certain industries may pursue tailored pathways; for example, those in medical offices might become practice managers, while those in law firms could ascend to law office administrators.

Further education, such as a master’s in business administration (MBA) or PMP certification, can also pave the way to upper management roles like director of operations or even vice president of administration, where leadership, strategic planning, and financial management are key components of the job.

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. These professionals are necessary for handling responsibilities like ordering supplies and creating budgets. They are the glue that keeps an office functioning, and with an increase over the next ten years, this is a secure line of work to pursue. 

Employment projections

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.

Office manager career tips

Soft skills and traits

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 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 on 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 office manager jobs are

Top companies

  • Marriott International
  • Hilton
  • State Farm
  • Robert Half

Top states

  • New York
  • California
  • Illinois
  • New Jersey
  • Connecticut

Top job sites

  • Indeed
  • ZipRecruiter
  • Careerbuilder
  • Upwork


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 a job as an office manager 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.

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.

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.