What Are My Career Options in Account Management?

Research what it takes to become an account manager. Learn about the educational requirements, skills necessary, and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Sales & Marketing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an Account Manager Do?

Companies and businesses that work for profit need experts in developing and maintaining accounts and a customer base. These professionals may be known as account managers or sales managers. Account managers work closely with clients to aid them in things such as product selection, marketing, logistics or required services. They typically work to reach sales goals set by a department or company. As an account manager, you could collaborate with marketing, art, service, purchasing and/or manufacturing professionals in addition to customers. Found in almost every industry that sells a product or service, account managers create and maintain good relationships between their company and its clients.

Consult the following table to learn about the the education and skills required for the field and the career outlook.

Degree Required Most require a bachelor's
Master's in Business Administration will prove helpful for advancement
Education Field of Study Preferably business, marketing, or finance
Key Skills Leadership
negotiation skills
knowledge of industry
Job Growth (2014-2024) 5% (sales managers)*
Median Salary (2015) $113,860 (sales managers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is an Account Manager?

The Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA) reports that the primary duty of an account manager is to ensure a good relationship between a company and its clients (www.sama.org). You will serve as an intermediary by developing and maintaining good business relationships. When clients are satisfied with a company's services or products, they will continue to give the company their business, ensuring the company's profitability.

What Are My Career Options?

When you hear the term 'account manager' you may think of someone working in advertising; however, account managers are employed in many fields and industries.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that account managers are found in any industry that depends on customers or clients for business (www.bls.gov). The BLS also shows that in addition to advertising and sales, account managers are employed in the manufacturing, finance, education and healthcare industries.

Advertising or marketing companies will let your flair for creativity shine in developing sales materials and advertising campaigns for your clients. As an account manager, you work with the sales department in determining your clients' needs and goals while planning projects. You will also evaluate sales reports and current marketing and buying trends and incorporate these into your sales campaigns.

In a manufacturing environment, you will work with the product development or engineering departments as well as your sales and marketing team, reports the BLS. You may help set sales production goals, create and manage customer accounts, develop new business and evaluate reports and statistics.

The financial sector offers opportunities to combine sales and marketing with financial training and experience. In addition to your supervisory duties, you may find yourself advising clients on investments and other financial transactions. A license permitting you to sell securities and other financial products may be required by your company or industry.

An independent consultant position may be another career option, adds the BLS. You can obtain a consultant position once you have acquired enough experience in your field and a clientele large enough to support your new enterprise.

How Do I Enter This Career?

According to the BLS, most account manager jobs require a bachelor's degree, preferably in marketing, business or finance. However, an MBA may be very helpful with advancement opportunities.

While certification isn't necessary to enter the field, you may find that it helps to demonstrate your competence in account management. The SAMA offers its members the opportunity for certification in core competencies including negotiation skills, understanding your customer and industry, leadership training, and other skills necessary to be an effective manager.

What Are The Employment Projections?

The BLS predicts 5% job growth for sales managers from 2014-2024, which is about as fast as average for all positions. The median salary for sales managers in 2015 was $113,860, according to the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

With a bachelor's degree you could find many different related career fields such as advertising, promotions and marketing managers, or wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives. Advertising, promotions and marketing managers work with the creative side of sales. They consult with clients to come up with a sales plan and use graphic artists and marketing experts to create the advertising campaigns that may work best for the client. Wholesale and manufacturing sales representative working with technical and scientific products will need that bachelor's degree, otherwise a high school diploma may get you into the door of this career field. These professionals work directly with business, companies or industries to provide large scale sales of needed products or services. They negotiate products and contracts and work closely after the sale to make sure things run smoothly and build bridges for future sales.

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