Office managers are an important asset to every office. These professionals are often responsible for client relations, keeping inventory of office supplies, managing databases and filing systems and supervising other office staff. Managers in offices keep the functions of the office running smoothly, striving to increase work output and revenue, while keeping the office staff and themselves producing work as efficiently as possible. Being an office manager requires a great deal of responsibility, the ability to multi-task and stay calm under pressure.
The salaries of office managers vary greatly, depending on the company, geographic location and the educational or experience background of the office manager. According to reports from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, collected in 2009, the average median wage for office managers was $46,910. Of this group, the lowest average was $36,270 and the highest was $60,590. Of the entire sampled group, the 10th percentile earned less than $28,400, while the 90th percentile earned more than $76,100 per year. The highest paying jobs in this profession are the Postal Service, followed by computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing, aerospace product manufacturing companies, natural gas pipeline transport companies and electric power generation and distribution companies.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
Office managers are often responsible for any or all of the tasks discussed in this paragraph. Checking emails, responding and filing correspondence are a crucial part of an office manager’s job. Since communication has taken to an online basis, this aspect usually consumes a great deal of each work day for an office manager. Most duties of an office manager are performed on the computer today; maintaining databases, updating and reviewing employee files and informations and completing correspondence or assignments with word processors is important. Office managers must have a working knowledge of computer applications, spreadsheets and sometimes even timekeeping software. In legal offices, timekeeping software is utilized to track the time spent on each case on a computer, corresponding appropriately to billing. Office managers may also be responsible for working with computer accounting programs, such as Quicken.
In addition to computer skills, office managers must be able to relate well with employees and customers. Scheduling appointments and maintaining a calendar are important responsibilities given to office managers. Patience and a friendly but assertive attitude must be used daily. These professionals must also become familiar with office equipment, such as complex phone systems, fax machines, copiers and postage machines. Office managers are usually responsible for keeping an inventory of office equipment and supplies. When new supplies must be ordered, the manager orders them and keeps track of all purchases. Supervising office staff is another important aspect of this position; office managers must maintain a professional working relationship with employees, promoting efficiency and teamwork. Communicating and coordinating with CEOs or owners is also something office managers must do.
Training and Education Requirements
Not all office manager positions require a formal education or degree; some positions may be earned simply by having a high school degree and experience as a secretary or manager in another line of work. For example, an applicant who has 2 years of secretarial experience and 2 years’ experience working as a fast food chain manager would likely qualify for many office manager positions that do not require degrees.
Some office manager positions require an Associate or Bachelor degree. Degrees in business management are the most popular course of study, but many employers will look favorably upon any psychology, accounting or business degree earned. Jobs that require a degree are usually for high-end companies. Some elite employers may even require a Master’s degree for a few select positions. Several companies will offer their employees tuition reimbursement programs if they are willing to earn a degree after employment.
The International Facility Management Association, also called IFMA, offers certification to office managers, intended to give them an advantage in the job market. Certification is voluntary and is not required for all jobs. Two common certifications offered by IFMA are Facility Management Professional and Certified Facility Manager. Not all people can apply for these certifications; there is a minimum requirement for recent college education in related areas. Certificates of proficiency in microcomputer applications, Microsoft Office or other related courses are offered by most community colleges. While these do not replace degrees, they do prove that an applicant has the necessary skills for office management duties.
There are numerous professional associations for office managers, most of which are focused on specific areas of concentration. One of the most plentiful offerings of professional associations are afforded to medical office managers. One very popular association is the IFMA. In addition to offering certification, they also provide a very useful association, giving members the tools needed for success. This association is an international organization, with countless members. Another professional association for office managers is the Association of Professional Office Managers, or APOM, designed to promote success and excellence in the field of office management. This association gives members access to network directories, training, job openings, software, coupons, magazine subscriptions and various other useful resources; free membership is afforded to charities.