What To Know About a Career in Management

What types of management are there, and what skills do you need?

Businesswoman presenting project in meeting room
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A manager’s job responsibilities include leading a team, process, or resource toward achieving a common objective. Managers must be good at communicating, making decisions, and problem-solving to thrive in their role.

While pay can vary by company, industry, and years of experience, management pay usually rewards the role well. The median annual pay for management occupations was the highest of all wage groups at $102,450 in May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Preschool and childcare-center directors make the lowest management-related salaries with an annual median pay of $47,310, while computer and information systems managers make the most at $159,010.

If you’re wondering whether a management role is right for you, learn about the managerial position types, the work a manager does, and the pros and cons of being a manager.

Key Takeaways

  • There’s no one standard manager role—it can be executive or lower level.
  • As of May 2021, the median annual wage for management occupations was $102,450.
  • Management jobs span many different industries but generally manage people, processes, or resources.

Types of Managerial Positions

“Managers manage everything from people to projects to finances,” said Bridgitt Haarsgaard, CEO and founder of GAARD Group, via email with The Balance. The GAARD Group provides consulting on leadership skills. “While there may be a crossover within a manager's role that includes a mix of responsibilities, the three main management areas are people, processes, and resources,” she said.

People Managers

People managers are directly responsible for overseeing the activities of their team members, operators, clerks, and associates. Lower-level managers tend to have more general management duties (often client or customer-facing) and include maintenance of a physical location, such as a store or office. As managers move up the workplace ladder, their roles become more removed from the location operations. They may manage other managers or a more specific aspect of personnel such as schedules or hiring. For example, a lodging manager may oversee the front desk, cleaning, and maintenance staff to ensure a pleasant guest experience and a clean, well-maintained building.

Process Managers

Process managers, project managers, product managers, or production managers are responsible for creating and managing specific operations. Their roles may also include managing people, but their primary function is to oversee systems that ensure the processes are efficient to fulfill orders or meet deadlines. For example, a product manager may lead teams to develop user products.

Resource Managers

Resource managers are responsible for accounting for and distributing resources such as employees, materials, inventory, finances, and even land. These managers use their resource budget to enable businesses to function smoothly and efficiently within their means. For example, a resource manager could analyze and plan for resources a specific project requires—both physical and financial—to ensure availability.

Employment in management occupations could grow 9% from 2020 to 2030 and result in about 906,800 new jobs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Work Does a Manager Do?

So what exactly does a manager do on a day-to-day basis? Haarsgaard explained that whether managers are responsible for people, processes, resources, or some combination of the three, they usually:

  • Set goals and objectives
  • Implement and monitor strategies
  • Motivate team members
  • Resolve conflicts
  • Ensure the completion of tasks on time

Overall, managers develop and implement strategies to foster success within their team or organization by delegating tasks as needed, setting employee guidelines, managing budgets to maintain profitability, and communicating with stakeholders.

Management roles vary significantly by organization, and some managers may focus more on daily tasks such as problem-solving and coordinating work. Others may work on high-level projects to help communicate the organization's vision. According to an analysis by research firm Gallup, great managers exhibit qualities of coaches—encouraging engagement, deploying unique employee talents and strengths, and setting clear performance expectations and goals.

Pros and Cons of Being a Manager

Management benefits include the ability to significantly impact someone's life and receive compensation for your efforts, Haarsgaard said. However, management isn't for everyone. “While managers make more money than operators, they also have significantly more responsibility,” Haarsgaard said. “They must balance professionalism and business goals with personal relationships, and make difficult decisions directly impacting others.”

Pros
  • Involvement in decision-making

  • More autonomy and control

  • Career advancement and development opportunities

  • Increased pay

Cons
  • Heavy workload

  • Uncomfortable conversations

  • High-stress role

  • More hours at work

Pros Explained

  • Involvement in decision-making: When you’re a manager, you’re often involved in meaningful conversations and contribute to making impactful decisions.
  • More autonomy and control: While managers usually have a boss, they’re at a career stage where they work more autonomously.
  • Career advancement and development opportunities: A managerial role can be a significant step toward more senior management positions.
  • Increased pay: Managers tend to be rewarded with a higher salary due to increased responsibility for resources, employees, and projects.

Cons Explained

  • Heavy workload: Managers often have large workloads and responsibilities to balance with potentially competing needs from stakeholders, employees, and upper management.
  • Uncomfortable conversations: An essential part of managing is having frank but often difficult conversations with employees about their performances.
  • High-stress role: Managing multiple employees—whose actions are out of your control—can lead to a lot of stress for managers.
  • More hours at work: According to BLS data, those in management, business, and financial operations occupations work more hours per week than any other occupation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I start a career in management?

To forge a career in management, find a field you enjoy, such as accounting, marketing, sales,  or whatever area you’re genuinely interested in. Then, learn and earn the skills and knowledge you'll need for a management role in that field. You might share your interest in management with your current employers, demonstrate self-starting initiative in the workplace, model leadership qualities, and cross-train in other parts of your organization to understand it better. If you continue to perform well, build a strong resume, find a mentor or role model, and foster a network of contacts, you'll be on your way to a management role.

What jobs can I get in management?

Managers are necessary whenever and wherever people, processes, or resources are needed—just about every industry area. From industry to industry and even company to company, roles vary depending on the needs of the business. For example, you can work as an administrative services and facilities manager, a compensation and benefits manager, a product manager, or a marketing manager.

Article Sources

  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Management Occupations."

  2. Gallup. "People Management: Pros, Cons and Development Opportunities."

  3. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Labor Force Statistics From the Current Population Survey."

  4. Southern New Hampshire University. "How To Become a Manager."