What Is a Management Job?

And how do you get one?

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Managerial jobs offer some of the most direct ways to take on more responsibility in many companies. They can provide a great career path for many people, but management jobs aren't for everyone. Becoming a manager isn't merely doing your old job with a few direct reports and a better salary. It involves a different skill set and approach to your work.

What Are Management Jobs?

The simplest way to understand what differentiates a managerial job from a non-managerial one is to look at the daily tasks of employees. Management jobs are those positions in which your job responsibility is to accomplish tasks through the work of others, rather than by doing the work yourself.

For example, a production manager at a factory does not operate one of the machines even though they may be better at that task than some of the machine operators. A software development manager does not write lines of code even though they are capable of that task.

People in management jobs focus on one thing: They manage the people below them to ensure that the work is being done properly.

What Jobs Are Not Managerial?

Let's say you are a team leader, or a lead iron welder, or a senior programmer. These are all positions that rank on an upper level in their area, but these are not management positions. There may be times when you manage other people, but when you do mostly the same work as the other workers in your group, you are not in a management job.

What Kinds of Management Jobs Are There?

There are management jobs in every profession and every industry. There are management jobs in large and small companies and in nonprofit and for-profit organizations. Simply put, someone has to be in charge and provide oversight and direction to staff, no matter how large or small the company.

How Do I Qualify for a Management Job?

To qualify for a management job, you have to demonstrate two key things:

  • Show that you have a mastery of the tasks that are done by the group you will manage.
  • More importantly, you must be able to demonstrate an ability to manage and motivate people.

That second skill set can be challenging to develop when you're not working a management role. You have to learn to think like a manager even before you have the title.

How Do I Get a First Management Job?

This is the age-old conundrum. Like most other jobs, no one wants to give you that first management job unless you have experience, but you can't get experience if no one will give your first job. You can, however, focus on developing people skills, learning about management, and doing your job well. If you persist in these efforts and demonstrate initiative in leadership, you're likely to be considered for a promotion to management.

How Do I Get a Higher-Level Management Job?

Like a first management job, you qualify for a higher management job by demonstrating your ability to handle the position you already hold. So, your first priority should be to excel in your current role.

Beyond that, you need to recognize that at each escalating level of responsibility, you are competing with more candidates for fewer management positions. In a large company, for example, there may be many first-line managers, but there will only be one manager in charge of all employees, the CEO. This means that you'll have to sharpen your focus on your own professional and career development in order to stand out.

Remember, though, that the path to management need not be a cutthroat race to the top. The most effective managers are those who focus on lifting others up along the way, and who are always willing to learn from others. As you pursue your management career, learn to help others excel at their jobs. Then you'll truly be ready to shine in management.