A postsecondary degree in office management is not required to enter the field as an office manager or executive assistant, but it may be preferred by some employers and help applicants compete for openings working in an office. Certificate and associate degree programs are offered by community colleges and technical schools.
Many aspects of the modern company require strong management, including everyday operations. Although postsecondary education may not strictly be required, an associate's degree in the field may be preferred for office managers. Certificate and degree programs in office management prepare students for careers in office administration and leadership.
|Career||Office Manager||Executive Assistant|
|Required Education||High school diploma at minimum; associate's degree may be preferred||High school diploma|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||8% for first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers||-6% for executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$52,630 for first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers||$53,370 for executive secretaries|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Office management programs - sometimes called office administration or office systems technology programs - are commonly offered as certificate and 2-year associate degree programs through community colleges and technical schools. Students in these programs gain management and office technology skills that prepare them to carry out, organize and direct support operations in a variety of settings. Classes focus on principles of management and accounting, software applications and records management.
Graduates of an office management program often have a combination of operational and organizational skills, which they can use in offices across a number of industries. Two common positions for graduates are office manager and executive assistant.
Office managers are tasked with keeping all office operations running smoothly. They may supervise clerical staff, inventory and order office supplies, ensure that all equipment is operational and coordinate all office activity. Office managers typically act as intermediaries between management and external vendors as well as between various departmental staff. They may additionally be responsible for tasks like accounting and payroll, hiring and firing employees or even data entry and reception. Office managers in smaller companies are likely to have the greatest range of responsibilities due to a fewer number of support staff. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median annual salary for office managers as $52,630 in May 2015 and projects job growth of 8% for the profession between 2014 and 2024.
Executive secretaries provide many types of support to corporate executives and other high-ranking managers. Their duties are similar in nature to those carried out by traditional administrative assistants or secretaries, but executive secretaries do less clerical work. Instead, they may carry out such tasks as conducting research, preparing reports, creating spreadsheets and managing schedules. Executive secretaries may also be responsible for overseeing other administrative support employees. May 2015 statistics from the BLS showed a median salary for executive assistants of $53,370 per year, with employment in the field projected to decrease by 6% from 2014 to 2024.
Other Career Options
There are quite a few careers that make use of the skills obtained from an office management degree program. A few alternative titles and similar positions can include:
- Administrative assistant
- Facilities manager
- Front desk coordinator
- Data entry specialist
- Executive secretary
With additional or related coursework, graduates may find employment as medical or legal office managers and administrative assistants.
Certificate and associate's degree programs in office management focus on management, accounting, office equipment training, software applications, and records management. This training helps prepare graduates to become an office manager or executive assistant. Other career options include data entry specialist, executive secretary, facilities manager, or front desk coordinator.