How to Become an Executive Manager: Cream of the Crop

How to Become an Executive Manager: Cream of the Crop

At the top of every formal organization—business, non-profit, or governmental—a small group of people is responsible for devising the goals and strategies the organization will pursue. If you have extensive experience in an organization, find yourself called upon to contribute to important policy decisions, and feel you have outgrown your current managerial or technical role, becoming an executive manager may be the next logical step in your career. Competition for these prestigious, high paying positions is stiff at any level in all sectors of the economy, but adding advanced education to your experience can significantly improve your odds of landing such a position.

Executive Manager: Education Degree Requirements

The educational backgrounds of those in executive management roles differ significantly from four-year bachelor’s degrees to doctoral degrees and may cover a range of disciplines from business to IT. Regardless of their educational credentials, it is possible for managers to rise to the executive level by building an excellent track record, through experience, intelligence, and efficiency or even through election or appointment, as is the case for many executive mangers in government.

However, if you are planning to use education as a lever for securing an executive management position, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) is almost certainly the degree you will want to pursue. There are a wide variety of MBA programs available, and you should carefully consider which program type is best suited for your needs. Other related degrees, such as master’s programs in finance, accounting or supply chain management, are also important options depending on your target job and industry.

  • Two-year MBA programs, the most common and most standard programs, cover advanced material in a student’s first year in topics like accounting, management science, organizational behavior, project management, and strategy, before specializing in their second year in an area particularly suited to their professional goals; entrepreneurship, operations, non-profits, small business management, information management, and international business are several concentrations among the many available.
  • Accelerated MBA programs take the basic structure of the two-year program and compress it by removing breaks and increasing class loads.
  • Part-time MBA programs are usually held on nights and weekends and target working professionals, who complete the MBA curriculum over the course of three years or more. Part-time programs are excellent alternatives for senior managers and are often prestigious programs, because of the caliber of experience students bring to the classroom.
  • Executive MBA (EMBA) programs are designed for highly experienced executives and managers who are currently working full-time. Candidates complete the entire curriculum within a year or two while continuing with their work responsibilities. EMBA programs offer students exposure to peers from the government, private, and non-profit sectors. Tuition is often sponsored by a candidate’s organization as an opportunity to invest in a manager with a proven track record.

Becoming an Executive Manager: Career Outlook

With experience and a business education, a variety of executive management jobs are available to qualified candidates:

  • Chief executive officers are at the top of the pyramid, directing a firm’s activities toward its goals, but a large team of executives generally works with the CEO to ensure practical implementation of policies.
  • Chief operating officers oversee the executives in charge of different departments and the daily running of a firm.
  • Chief information officers handle the technological management of a firm’s resources and direct the construction and maintenance of a firm’s IT infrastructure and the handling of business-critical information.
  • General and operations managers handle human resources and other matters that extend beyond and between departments.
  • Whatever direction you choose to pursue in executive management, you will need to be a creative organizational thinker and a persuasive communicator, able to withstand significant job pressure and long hours, and to formulate long-term strategies for dealing with the rapidly evolving demands of the market.

    Salaries for executive managers are high, but vary widely by experience, job tenure, and sector. For executives in the private sector, median salaries came in around $113,000 a year in 2008, but these can be ballooned substantially by incentive-based bonuses. Government and non-profit executives tend to take in smaller salaries in general and receive fewer perks. Little job growth is expected among executive managers in the coming years, and competition is fierce, so those who invest in education and bring additional skills like multilingualism to the table with have a decided advantage in the job hunt.

    Now that you have read about how to become an executive manager, take the next step in your career. Start by searching for schools today.