A Career in Management and Why It Might Be Right for You

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managementAlmost every industry sector in the world employs management professionals in some shape or form. Without them, the global economy would stall and many of the most exciting developments in technology and infrastructure wouldn’t see completion.

As a result, there are many specializations and many pathways to success. In the following guide, we’ll address a few of the things that make management an attractive career prospect to help you navigate the opportunities often presented to recent graduates.

What Managers Do

While the field represents one of the broadest possible spectrums at the professional level, it can be roughly divided into two categories — project management and people management. Within these, there are multiple positions and each requires a unique set of skills and abilities.

Conducting teams of people in the workplace may put you at the helm of a company’s HR department or you could opt to specialize in logistics, finance, scheduling, organizational policy or a combination of those things.

Project managers are typically responsible for managing human resources and materials with a clear direction and a view towards achieving set outcomes by certain deadlines. As such, there is a degree of overlap between people and project management.

Is Management Right for You?

It’s often said that good managers don’t make for good leaders, but this statement certainly doesn’t hold true in reverse. Sound leadership traits such as being able to show gratitude inform the success of managers at any professional level.

You have to be comfortable with taking on and assuming risk and then accepting responsibility to be effective in your role. That said, there are many job descriptions within the field and it’s highly likely you’ll find something to love.

Important Questions to Ask Yourself

As there are so many potential avenues where management is concerned, many students find it difficult to narrow down their options. If you find yourself falling into this category, try asking yourself the following:

  • Are you comfortable working under pressure or in high-stress environments?
  • Do you learn by doing or do you require constant feedback and support?
  • Does conflict make you cringe or can you take charge of difficult situations?
  • Are you able to delegate when required or as the need arises?

If you can answer these questions quickly and honestly, you have the right mindset to make it as a successful manager. Remember that others will look to you for leadership and that part of your role will be to stand by your convictions.

Salary Outlook for Management Professionals        

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, management occupations within specialized industries will experience an average growth rate of around 12 to 13 percent over the next seven years, with the outlook being brightest for biotech and high-tech arenas.

As for the majority of more conventional management positions, graduates can expect to earn as follows:

General/Operations Manager

Project Manager (General)

Information Technology (IT) Manager

Human Resources (HR) Manager

Marketing Manager

If the economy continues to do well and there are numerous projects either in the pipeline or on the horizon, managers working within competitive sectors should see an above average increase in career prospects.

For now, salaries are expected to hold and those looking to pursue management as a profession can expect to earn above the national average wage index, though this will vary by industry and title.

Management Opportunities and Potential Pathways

Unlike other some careers which are more restricted in their scope and function, management is broad enough to offer unlimited possibilities for driven individuals. However, very few people begin their working life as full-fledged managers and most graduates with a degree will be assigned such positions only after they’ve proven their ability.

Others have sought alternative pathways and opt to work in operations or service support before progressing further. Either way, hierarchical structure and career advancement opportunities should be taken into consideration when accepting or rejecting job offers.

The following represents a fair assessment of the varied roles within management:

  • General/Operations Manager: Most general managers are indispensable to businesses of any size and are responsible for ensuring the organization runs smoothly, managing staff, making sure procedures are adhered to, tracking inventory and much more.
  • Project Manager (General): As you might expect, project managers look after designated projects and coordinate team efforts. There are as many specializations within project management as there are industries and responsibilities may vary accordingly.
  • Information Technology (IT) Manager: Businesses that employ or make use of dedicated teams of IT professionals rely heavily on the skills and expertise of IT managers. They must possess a high degree of proficiency with technical equipment and be familiar with computer languages.
  • Human Resources (HR) Manager: Those who choose to work in this role will be responsible for supporting a company’s growth and operation. This requires HR managers to advise and coach employees, engage in recruitment practices, oversee budget developments and handle redundancy or relocation packages.
  • Marketing Manager: Creative industries typically have need of marketing managers when it comes to assessing demand for particular products, promoting the company and identifying potential customers. Marketing managers also track product development and monitor trends that identify new opportunities.

College Degrees and Popular Majors 

Educational requirements for managers tend to vary according to the type of projects that are managed and the industry within which they take place. For example, high-tech managers may require formal training in computer science or a related discipline.

In almost most cases, employers are looking for qualified candidates and place importance on people’s ability to think critically – a skill supposedly gained at the tertiary level. As such, advanced degrees such as MBAs typically don’t go astray.

While it isn’t strictly necessary for graduates to emerge with a diploma in business administration, economics, finance, marketing or management, taking electives in these areas can prove to be very advantageous.

Education, Certification and Training

Management is a varied field where experience counts for a lot, as it helps those who possess it to make informed decisions and take decisive action. To increase their chances and employability, professionals can opt to undertake additional training in pursuit of certification.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) provides participants with globally recognized credentials that certify project management expertise and offers a range of certification programs, including but not limited to:

  • PMP: The Project Management Professional credential is the industry-recognized certification for project managers. It demonstrates that you have the education, experience and competency to lead and direct projects.
  • PgMP: The Program Management Professional credential recognizes the advanced skill of program managers and demonstrates one’s proven competency to oversee multiple projects and achieve strategic business goals.
  • RMP: The Risk Management Professional credential is a solution to project management’s increasing diversity, complexity and growth and fills the need for a specialist role in project risk management.

Other companies include the Institute of Certified Professional Managers which offers the Certified Manager certification program consisting of a 3 course module, and the American Management Association, an organization that provides flexible seminars across 11 key development areas.

A career in this field can be one of the most demanding and rewarding experiences of your life and there are many pathways into management positions, regardless of which industry you choose to pursue.

Hopefully you’ll have a clearer idea of what to expect and will be ready to embark on your journey to becoming a success management professional.

Exploring careers in business? Be sure to check out the entire series of career exploration posts!

A Career in Real Estate 

A Career in Marketing

A Career in Business Law

A Career in Finance

A Career in Accounting

A Career in Insurance

A Career in Supply Chain

A Career in Human Resources

A Career in Management

A Career in Sales

A Career in Consulting


About the Author

Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer, blogger, and aspiring world traveler. Sarah is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site on which she shares advice for young professionals on navigating the work world, and finding happiness and success at work. For more on all things career follow her @SarahLandrum

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