How to Become an Office Manager in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become an office manager. Learn about salary, job outlook, training and education requirements to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Office Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does An Office Manager Do?

An office manager, sometimes referred to as an administrative service manager, oversees the day to day operations of an office and supervises office staffers. An office manager's duties may vary by company. However, in most cases, they hire and train office support staff. They may be involved in administrative duties, such as ordering supplies, photocopying files, mailing information and establishing a filing system.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this field.

Education Required High school diploma or GED minimum; professional certificate, associate's or bachelor's degree required by some employers; internship is recommended
Education Field of Study Business administration, office management
Certification Voluntary certification available and recommended for advancement
Key Responsibilities Assign duties to staff, make purchasing decisions, implement new company policies, hire and train staff
Job Growth (2014-2024) 8%* (for all first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers)
Median Salary (2015) $52,630* (for all first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is an Office Manager?

An office manager is an administrator who organizes and supervises the work of office personnel. Your responsibilities include hiring and training staff, assigning duties, making purchasing decisions, allocating funds and serving as a liaison between your subordinates and upper management. Other possible duties include responding to customer complaints; maintaining quality standards; implementing new company policies; reviewing production reports; and providing employees' feedback on their job performance.

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

A high school diploma or GED is the minimum education you need for entry-level employment in an office and also for admission to any business-related postsecondary program. English, business, mathematics and speech courses can help prepare you for office management work by developing your numerical aptitude and communications skills.

Step 2: Earn a Certificate or Degree

Many employers prefer managers to have some education beyond high school and may even require an associate's degree or bachelor's degree. You can find office management certificate and associate's degree programs at community colleges and vocational schools. Apart from the general education courses included in the latter, the core curriculum of each is similar. Courses teach you to use business software applications and address such topics as business law, accounting, management concepts and human relations.

A bachelor's degree in business administration is also a possibility. Programs acquaint you with a broad set of business functions, including finance, marketing and operations. Courses may also touch on ethics, statistics, information systems and international trade.

Step 3: Participate in an Internship

An internship allows you to gain work experience, observe day-to-day operations in a business office and establish contacts to potentially draw on later. Occasionally an internship may lead to a full time job. Some certificate and degree programs include a practicum or internship in their course list. Otherwise, you could arrange one on your own or through your school's career office.

Step 4: Obtain Employment

Job opportunities are available to you in nearly every sector of the U.S. economy, particularly with financial institutions, government agencies, medical facilities and business services firms. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roughly 1.46 million people worked as office managers in 2014. From 2014-2024, employment was projected to grow 8% to nearly 1.6 million. However, according to the most recent data available, competition will be stiff because the number of positions available is still much smaller than the number of workers seeking them. Many firms promote internally. As of May 2014, the annual median wage was $52,630.

Step 5: Consider Certification

Certification is voluntary, but having it affirms your competence and could potentially improve your chances for promotion. The National Office Managers Association of America offers the Certified Office Manager (COM) credential to eligible candidates. You need at least one year of office management experience or a diploma, certificate or degree in a business-related topic. The COM certification exam covers business law, budgeting, communications, human resource management and other topics.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Just like administrative service managers, cost estimators need to be well-organized. They collect data to calculate the amount of materials, time, and labor required to make a product or perform a service. They may work in a variety of settings that can include construction sites, factories and offices. Candidates will usually need at least a bachelor's degree to work as cost estimators.

Another career that is similar to office management is that of a buyer or purchasing agent. These professionals buy products or services for companies who in turn make money using or reselling those products or services. A buyer or purchasing agent must have analytical skills to evaluate and review the quality of products that best suit his or her company. Many employers do look for candidates who hold bachelor's degrees.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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