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How to Become a Certified Office Manager

Learn how to become a certified office manager. Research the career requirements, certification information and experience required for starting a career as a certified office manager.

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Do I Want to Be a Certified Office Manager?

An office manager is in charge of managing the day-to-day activities within an office. A manager's duties vary by the type of organization and may include processing accounts receivable and accounts payable, as well as some administrative work like scheduling appointments. Office managers also perform human resource duties, train employees and delegate tasks. Many office managers work overtime, and some might be on call for problems that may arise during off-hours.

Job Requirements

Many employers look for managers with a minimum of an associate's degree or some college coursework. Certification, such as the competency-based options through the International Facility Management Association, allows a manager to be more competitive in the work force and may lead to more job opportunities. The following table contains some typical requirements for becoming a certified office manager:

Common Requirements
Degree Level Associate's degree or some college; some employers prefer a bachelor's degree*
Degree Fields Accounting, business or related area*
Experience 2-5 years of related experience*
Certification Voluntary through associations like the International Facility Management Association**
Key Skills Customer service, management, administrative, communication, organizational*
Computer Skills QuickBooks/general ledger/accounting, word processing, database, spreadsheet software*

Sources: * job postings (November 2012), **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete an Associate's Degree Program

A minimum of some college coursework or an associate's degree in a business related discipline is usually required to become a certified office manager. An associate's degree program typically covers areas like business theory, communication, law, management and computer systems. Math, accounting, economics, human resources and information management are other areas of study. These programs help prepare for entry-level employment in an office setting.

Success Tip:

  • Take classes in office skills to prepare for employment. Prospective certified office managers can build their professional skills while earning an associate's degree by completing courses such as office procedures, business communication, speech and computer literacy.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), business office managers, or administrative services managers, are responsible for effective planning, coordinating and directing support staff in an office environment. The BLS also stated that office managers must have related work experience in areas like leadership, purchasing, sales and contract administration, depending on the organization they manage. To gain proper experience in the areas needed, prospective certified office managers should consider entry-level office employment to work up to the level they desire. Secretarial, administrative assistant and office clerk positions could provide experience needed for certification and advancement to management positions.

Step 3: Get Certified

While not required by most employers, certification allows an office manager to work on specific skills and to master certain areas of management. Certifications vary by industry and may be offered for managers of medical offices or facilities. For example, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) offers the Certified Facility Manager (CFM) certification for those interested in facility management. The CFM credential is available to managers with a specific combination of education and experience. Applicants must pass an exam and complete continuing education activities every three years.

Step 4: Consider Earning a Bachelor's Degree

Some office manager positions require at least a bachelor's degree for employment. A Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree program offers an in-depth study of all areas of business and business management. Some typical areas of study include economics, accounting, marketing, financial management, business leadership, computer technology and human resources.

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