Jobs in Management: Overview

The career path in management has been mythologized to the point where it's worth having a look at the facts. Management jobs are based on a combination of skills, talents, qualifications, and experience. The "generic" management job is really a fallacy by definition. In practice, expertise is by far the most important factor.

There are common elements in management, but no two managers actually doing their job work in the same way. Management is based on personal skills, as much as any professional job. Managers are the drivers of business, often the brains of their organizations. They work in an ultra competitive field, both with their peers and as managers of businesses with their competitors.

Entry level

Managers usually begin their practical training on the job, at ground level, as management trainees. All employers with management training schemes make a point of exposing their trainees to the operational end of the business from day one. This experience is critical in developing people management skills. It really can't be done any other way.

Usually simultaneously, or with some encouragement from the employer, trainees also begin formal management studies, starting with business basics at the time they begin working in lower level management. This formal training can be either at college level, or ad hoc certificate training at lower levels, which leads to college qualifications in some cases.


This stage can be reached by promotion through the ranks, but it's also where that type of career progression usually ends. Many middle managers don't qualify for higher management, because they simply don't have the formal qualifications.

Middle management jobs are nearly all operational jobs. They form part of the career process for those destined for higher management. The manager who worked his way up from the mailroom usually goes through middle management, too.

For those heading for higher management, qualifications also enter a new stage. Masters Degrees, doctorate levels in business studies, and MBA level qualifications are usually started during the middle management phase. Many specialist qualifications are also obtained at this level. This level of qualification can supercharge careers. A management trainee in their teens can attain an MBA with additional qualifications before the age of 30.

Qualifications and upper management

This is the entry level into higher management. At full qualification level, career tracks become much more mobile, with many more options. The management qualification process is in some ways only the beginning of a management career. Management is such a diverse career that some managers become specialists, while others become generalists, exact opposites as career motifs. The generalists move from job to job and industry to industry, while the specialists move strictly in their own industrial field of expertise.

These career modes create further diversification in career paths. A generalist is likely to be a business manager, where the specialist will be a technical manager. The jobs are vastly different, and so are the career paths. In the next part of this series, we'll look at career modes, and their career tracks.