Careers in Management

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Management is a very exciting and rewarding career. A career in management offers status, interesting work, and the satisfaction of working closely with other people. People are considered the most important resource in organizations. If they perform effectively, the organizations will succeed. Managers work closely with people, ranging from top managers to clerical workers, to ensure that organizations achieve their objectives.

A management career also offers the opportunity to make the world a better place. Managers help organizations succeed. When organizations are successful, there is better utilization of resources, less stress among employees, less chaos in society, and a better quality of life for all. Effective managers play an important role in shaping the world in which we live. Certo and Certo (2006) emphasized this point when they stated that our society would not be as developed as it is today without effective managers to guide its organizations.


Management is a people job. The manager coordinates the work of other people to ensure that the unit is run efficiently and profitably. A manager may have direct responsibility for a group of people in one department or a team of people from several different departments. For some managers, it could mean supervising one person.

Managers provide overall direction and leadership for the organization. The manager sets clear objectives for the team and makes sure they know what the focus is, assigns duties to team members, and encourages them to perform those duties. The manager also evaluates the team's actual performance against organizational objectives and decides on promotions and salary increases where appropriate. When team members are not performing satisfactorily, the manger makes the changes necessary to ensure that they reach the company's objectives. Managers use their people skills and business skills, such as marketing and cost controls, to achieve the company's objectives while at the same time making sure to stay within budget.

The manager's job is varied. Managers are involved with planned and unplanned activities. These activities include scheduled and unscheduled meetings, inspection tours, report writing, new product launches, disagreements among employees, customer grievances, and changes in business trends. According to Miller and associates (1996), a manager should be able to shift continually from person to person and from one subject or problem to another. A manager who is also the business owner makes all the daily decisions involved in the business.

Managers make things happen in organizations. They decide what will be done, who will do it, when will it be done, and what resources will be used. They hire and train new employees, and they coordinate their departments' activities with other departments. Managers are the heart of organizations, the force that unites everything in the organization to ensure optimum efficiency and profitability.


In large organizations, managers work in a variety of areas, including operations, human resources, finance, and marketing:

  • Operations managers see that the company's products and/or services meet quality standards and satisfy the needs of customers and clients. They plan production schedules to ensure the most efficient use of plant, manpower, and materials. The operations manager is responsible for production control, inventory control, quality control, plant layout, and site selection. New graduates will start as management trainees. After successfully completing the program they will be promoted to production supervisor, then to plant manager. The top management position is vice president for operations.
  • Human resources managers provide the organization with competent and productive employees. The duties of the human resources manager include human resource planning, recruiting and selecting employees, training and development, designing compensation and benefits systems, and formulating performance appraisal systems. In small firms one person may be responsible for all the human resource activities, while in large firms separate departments deal with each function.
  • Financial managers deal with the financial resources of the organizations. They are responsible for such activities as accounting, cash management, and investments. They also keep up-to-date records for the use of funds, prepare financial reports, and gather information to assess the financial status of the organization.
  • Marketing managers are responsible for getting customers and clients to buy the organization's products or services. They develop the business marketing strategy, set prices, and work closely with advertising and publicity personnel to see that products are promoted adequately.

Apart from the career opportunities in the specialized areas of management, management careers are also available in government agencies, hospitals, not-for-profit agencies, museums, educational institutions, and even political organizations. Good managers are also needed in foreign and multinational companies. All organizations exist for certain purposes and need good managers to guide their operations to achieve the best possible results. Regardless of the type of organization, managers are obviously one of its most important resources.

There are many specific management positions, including the following:

Management trainees work under the supervision of an experienced manager while learning. They receive formal training in a variety of management areas. The management trainee position is designed to prepare trainees for work as administrators or managers. Their duties include providing customer service, preparing work schedules, and assisting with coordination of support services.

Labor relations managers have an interest in labor law and are good communicators. They negotiate collective bargaining agreements and develop grievance procedures to handle complaints. When problems arise between management and labor, they interpret and administer the labor contract and resolve the disputes according to the terms of the contract. They also work closely with the human resources director on issues such as wages, benefits, pensions, and work practices.

Administrative services managers coordinate and direct supportive services of larger businesses and government agencies. They are responsible for services such as clerical support, records management, payroll, conference planning, information processing, and materials distribution and scheduling. However, corporate restructuring has resulted in many organizations outsourcing their administrative services. This means that the demand for administrative services managers will greatly increase in companies providing management consulting, management services, and facilities support services.

Food service managers have very similar duties to restaurant managers, catering managers, and fast-food restaurant managers. In fact, the food service manager works in a variety of facilities, including fast-food restaurants, hospitals, and school cafeterias. Food service managers coordinate all aspects of the food and beverage activities for the organization. They set the standard for quality food service, hire and assign employees, and plan menus. They also perform some clerical duties, such as payroll and inventory.

Building managers, also called real estate managers, administer rental properties, such as apartment buildings and office buildings, for the owners. As the agents of the owners, they market vacant space, negotiate leases, set and collect rents, and arrange for security and maintenance of the properties. They also handle all the bookkeeping and accounting records and provide periodic reports to the owners.

Fitness center managers are physically fit and interested in exercise science. Companies, government agencies, and cruise ships with fitness facilities are looking for managers who can develop programs that satisfy customers' health and fitness needs. The fitness center manger conducts research to identify customer needs, develops and manages programs for the center and its clients, and monitors health and safety requirements. In small centers, the manager is also responsible for delivering fitness training and maintaining center equipment.

City managers, also called town managers, are responsible for the day-to-day operations of various departments of city government. A main responsibility of city managers is to prepare budgets for the city council's approval. The city manager must also provide reports to the council members on ongoing and completed projects.

Health services managers work in clinics, hospitals, and health maintenance organizations (HMOs). They make most of the business or operational decisions in the health care facility. The health services manager establishes billing procedures, handles budgets, supervises staff, and interacts with the public. Health services managers start as management trainees or assistant administrators.

Hotel and motel managers are responsible for the full range of activities in a lodging establishment. These include guest registration and checkout, housekeeping, accounting, maintenance and security, and food service. The manager is also responsible for coordinating activities, such as meetings and other special events. In large hotels, assistant managers are responsible for the operations of various departments. Hotel managers begin as department heads and, after gaining experience, are promoted to manager.

Retail managers supervise employees and deal with customer complaints. In addition, they are responsible for managing the store inventory. They keep up-to-date records of merchandise, make pricing decisions, and decide on advertising and promotions. The retail manager works long hours and may be employed in a wide variety of stores, including department stores, discount stores, or specialty stores. Retail managers often begin as assistant managers responsible for a department in a large store. They are then promoted to merchandising manager or to store manager.

Sales managers exist in almost every firm and perform one of the most important functions in the organization. They find customers for the company's products and/or services and therefore provide revenues for the company. They recruit, hire, train, and supervise the company's sales force. Sales managers begin as sales representatives. Being a successful sales representative leads to promotion to senior sales representative or sales supervisor, then to a sales manager.

Procurement managers, sometimes called purchasing agents or industrial buyers, buy the supplies and materials needed by a company. They must be knowledgeable about the various vendors and their offerings. They must acquire the best possible deals for their company in terms of price, quality, delivery, and payment schedules. Managers in large companies sometimes specialize in specific types of purchases.


Educational requirements for a career in management vary. However, most employers require a college degree in either the liberal arts, social sciences, or business administration. A master's degree in business administration (MBA) is also a common requirement. For students interested in getting into management trainee programs in major corporations, an MBA gives the best opportunity for these top programs. An MBA or the master's degree in health services administration is generally required for a career in health service management.

Apart from major corporations, many other organizations have management trainee programs that college graduates can enter. Such programs are advertised at college fairs or through college job placement services. These programs include classroom instruction and might last one week or as long as one year. Training for a department store manager, for example, might include working as a salesperson in several departments, in order to learn about the store's business, before being promoted to assistant manager.

In small organizations, depending on the type of industry, experience may be the only requirement needed to obtain a position as manager. When an opening in management occurs, the assistant manager is often promoted to the position, based on past performance. In large organizations a more formal process exists. The management position to be filled is advertised with very specific requirements concerning education and experience.

Persons interested in a career in management should have good communication skills and be able to work well with a variety of people, ranging from other managers, supervisors, and professionals, to clerks and blue-collar workers. They should be analytical, flexible, and decisive. They should also be able to coordinate several activities simultaneously and be able to solve problems quickly. Ability to work under pressure and cope with deadlines is also important.

Recruiters look for self-starters who can use their initiative, recognize what needs to be done, like responsibility, and have high ethical standards. Self-starters and team players are the types of people corporations are looking for.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (1996), the number of managerial jobs was expected to increase by 17 percent by 2005. The greatest increase in management positions is projected to be in health services, management consulting, marketing, advertising, and public relations fields. Opportunities for management careers in financial services, restaurant and food service, and real estate industries will also grow at a faster than average rate through 2005. Educational institutions, industrial production, and administrative services were expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2005.

The outlook for management careers is good, despite the headlines about downsizing and corporate restructuring. As the economy continues to grow, many businesses are expanding, and this creates additional opportunities for management jobs. Also, as the economy becomes more global, an increasing number of American firms are expanding overseas, and an equally large number of foreign companies are doing business in the United States. This means that despite the layoffs of some middle-level managers, there continues to be a worldwide need for good managers.

The future is bright for women and minorities interested in management. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964 bans discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Many companies, because of affirmative action rules, are actively seeking out women and minorities to fill management positions.

As a result, women are well represented at the lower levels of management; however, the number of top executive positions remains low. Only about 10 percent of the top jobs in the 500 largest U.S. companies are held by women. However, companies are taking steps to attract and promote women executives.

Minority groups remain underrepresented at all levels of management. A Rutgers University study (cited in Certo and Certo, 2006) found that in 400 Fortune 1000 companies, less than 9 percent of all managers were members of a minority group (p. 16). Since more and more new entrants into the labor market are members of various minority groups, it is becoming essential for business to recruit talented minority managers.

There are numerous opportunities for management careers available in all types of organizations, especially small and medium-sized companies. Every organization is looking for competent managers who can increase employee performance and help the company to be successful. Mosley and associates (1996) put it best when they said: "Managers in organizations of all sizes, in all industries, and at all levels have an impact on performance they make the difference between success and failure for their companies" (p. 7).


For further information, readers are encouraged to contact any of the following organizations:

American Hotel and Lodging Association, 1201 New York Avenue, NW, #600, Washington, DC 20005-3931,

American Management Association, 1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019,

Administrative Management Society, 4622 Street Road, Trevose, PA 19047

National Management Association, 2210 Arbor Boulevard, Dayton, OH 45439,

Women in Management, P.O. Box 3451, Stamford, CT 06905,

see also Management


Boone, Louis E., and Kurtz, David L. (2006). Contemporary Business 2006. Mason, OH: South-Western.

Certo, Samuel C., and Certo, S. Trevis (2006). Modern Management (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Griffin, Ricky W. (2005). Management. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

Miller, Donald S., Catt, Steven E., and Carbon, James R. (1996). Fundamentals of Management. St. Paul, MN: West Publishing Company.

Mosley, Donald C., Pietri, Paul H., and Megginson, Leon C. (1996). Management: Leadership in Action. New York: HarperCollins.

Robbins, Steven P., and Coulter, Mary. (1999). Management. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Occupational Projections and Training Data (1996). Bulletin No. 2471. Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Author.

Thaddeus McEwen

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Careers in Management

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