Many account managers hold a bachelor's degree from a business administration school, but graduate degree programs in business or management may be advantageous for candidates seeking leadership or senior management positions.

Account Manager

If you're interested in a career in business, you're probably aware that account manager careers are in no short supply on the modern job market. Here's a primer on account manager education, job responsibilities, employment outlook data and salary expectations for graduates of business administration schools looking to be as informed as possible before setting out on the path to a lifelong career.

How Much do Account Managers Make?

The mean annual wage for sales and account manager positions was $123,150 in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), but the data show that geography can have a considerable influence individual salary expectations. Here are the mean annual salaries for the five states that employed the highest total number of sales and account managers in 2013:

  • New York: $169,980
  • California: $132,830
  • Texas: $129,390
  • Florida: $128,450
  • Illinois: $113,600

Many account managers have a bachelor's degree from a business administration school, although degree programs in communications and statistical math can also prepare you for important aspects of the position. Helpful subjects to study include management, law, accounting, marketing, finance, economics and mathematics. Graduate degree programs in business or management may be advantageous for candidates seeking leadership or senior management positions.

Once your account manager education is over and you've taken your place in the working world, attending conferences and other industry events can go a long way toward keeping your account management game as sharp as it can be. What's more, certification courses and membership in such organizations as the Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA) may help you acquire new skills, grow your professional network and stay on the cutting edge of emerging techniques and technologies in the field.

Occupational Requirements and Work Environment

Typically, account managers work to ensure a positive professional relationship between a company and its clients. Specific duties of the position may vary, depending on the company and the individual position within their department, but here's a list of tasks that most account managers can expect to perform at one time or another:

  • Directing and coordinating client and customer relationship policies and practices
  • Supervising teams of account representatives and working to resolve client issues
  • Developing plans to acquire new clients through various outreach techniques
  • Designing, implementing and overseeing training programs for account representatives
  • Collecting and analyzing data on client experiences and preferences

Account managers may be assigned to a particular type of client relationship, such as B2B or individual customer support, or they may handle a variety of different account types. Some account managers interface directly with client representatives, while some focus more on the administrative side.

According to the BLS, account manager positions are common in multiple industries. Here are the top five industries for account managers in 2012 and the percentage of working account managers employed by each industry that year:

  1.  Retail trade: 20 percent
  2.  Wholesale trade: 20 percent
  3.  Manufacturing: 13 percent
  4.  Finance and insurance: 10 percent
  5.  Management of companies and enterprises: 8 percent

Most account managers work in offices and interact with both superiors and subordinates on a regular basis. Communication over email and telephone is an extremely common aspect of the job, and work weeks of more than 40 hours may be a regular feature of some positions.

Projected Career Growth

The BLS indicates a growth trend of 8 percent among sales and account manager positions between 2012 and 2022, which is projected to lead to around 30,000 new positions by the end of the 10-year period. Greater employment increases are expected to come in B2B positions than in a business-to-consumer capacity, and the BLS expects overall job growth in the field to be greatest in industries that are themselves expanding, such as health care, technology and administrative services.

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Article Sources

1. Sales Managers, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Management/Sales-managers.htm
2. Sales Managers, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes112022.htm
3. Sales Managers, Occupational Information Network, http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/11-2022.00
4. "Industries with the fastest growing and most rapidly declining wage and salary employment," Employment Projections, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_203.htm
5. Strategic Account Management Association, http://strategicaccounts.org/