Companies across industries employ business managers. But what exactly is business management? The answer depends on the industry.
In manufacturing, for example, a business manager could oversee the entire production floor or a large department within it.
In banking, a business manager might be responsible for ensuring employees adhere to federal regulations while also pursuing new clients.
Responsibilities for business managers – also known as general or operations managers – can range from supervising employees to extracting trends from data and developing the most efficient plans for business operations. They may also be in charge of hiring employees and negotiating contracts.
Although their duties vary, business managers typically share common traits: an ability to organize people and processes, and an ability to lead groups toward a single goal. Whether they lead a small department or oversee a large operation, business managers must have the ability to communicate well and inspire employees to achieve objectives.
Other shared traits for effective managers include possessing analytical skills and being detail-oriented.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts 5% employment growth for general and operations managers from 2010 to 2020, with job opportunities varying depending on the particular industry. Healthcare, for example, is expected to see faster growth.
According to the BLS, the median annual wage for general and operations managers was more than $95,000 in May 2011, a slight increase over the previous year.
Local market conditions, as well as factors such as experience and educational qualifications, can affect salary potential.
Holding a position as a business manager generally requires attaining at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration or in a specific field, such as finance or healthcare. There are numerous pathways to securing a degree. Business schools provide wide-ranging training, such as in applying business theory to problem solving, decision-making, and management skills in terms of both processes and people.
Another option for entering the field of business management is to attend a liberal arts school that offers business training. This can offer students the opportunity to gain a broad-based education in areas outside of business, as well as allowing them to focus on a particular area, such as finance or computer technology.
At larger companies, managers may be required to earn a master’s of business administration.
Those pursuing a career in business management may begin with an entry-level job and spend the first year or two learning business operations, particularly in cases where they will eventually be overseeing a specific department or service.
As their knowledge and experience increase, general and operations managers will assume additional responsibilities. According to the BLS, those can include assigning duties, creating employee schedules and developing policies.
The duties and responsibilities commonly associated with business managers may be similar to military occupational specializations across the branches of the U.S. armed forces. That can be an important consideration for servicemembers making the transition to civilian life.
Among the military roles that correspond with the civilian job of business manager are financial manager, signal officer and adjutant general officer – all in the Army. In the Navy, sailors holding business management positions may oversee supply or service operations, or financial procedures.