After a sale has been made, it's up to the account manager to keep the customer happy and coming back for more.

Successful businesses understand the value of creating and fostering relationships with their clients. They rely on account managers to address concerns, answer questions and provide a personal connection to business partners. If you enjoy working with people and can efficiently multitask, this could be an engaging and fast-paced career choice for you.

What Does An Account Manager Do?

After sales representatives close a deal, account managers step in to ensure ongoing customer satisfaction. Their job duties can vary depending on their employer, but they may be responsible for the following:

  • Understanding client needs and suggesting additional products and services
  • Ensuring that orders are filled as requested
  • Resolving any problems associated with an account and answering client questions
  • Working with a sales team to develop strategies for acquiring new clients
  • Collecting and analyzing data on client experiences and preferences

How Long Does It Take To Become An Account Manager?

Many account managers have bachelor's degrees which usually take four years to earn. However, some employers prefer to hire those with several years of experience in sales, promotions or advertising, and managers may spend one to five years as a sales representative, purchasing agent or in a similar position before moving to management.

How to Become an Account Manager

Account manager careers don't always follow a standard path. Some professionals may work their way up from the sales floor while others get jobs out of college. However, here are some steps that can lead to this occupation.

1. Earn a bachelor's degree:

A four-year degree is the standard education for many account managers. While you won't find specific degree programs in account management, pursuing a business management degree with a concentration in advertising, accounting or marketing can provide relevant knowledge and skills.

2. Gain workplace experience:

You may be able to land a job as an account manager right out of college, but gaining sales or administrative experience can enhance your resume and employment opportunities.

3. Obtain professional certification:

Although not required, professional credentials can demonstrate your expertise in the field. Certifications are also available that are designed for professionals working in specific sectors.

  • The Certified Strategic Account Manager (CSAM) designation, from the industry group SAMA, is available to those who are working as a strategic account manager or in a similar role, complete certification coursework and pass an assessment.
  • The National Association of Health Underwriters offers a Benefits Account Manager Certification for account managers working in the area of health and benefits.

Pursue continuing education:

Credentialed account managers may need to take continuing education classes to keep their certification. Even if not required, taking classes, attending conferences or listening to seminars from industry groups can help keep your skills sharp and inform you of the latest account management trends.

Essential Skills and Qualities For Account Managers

There are some skills and personality traits that tend to translate better than others to the particular demands of account managers. Here are a few of the traits that can help professionals excel in account manager careers.

  • Multitasking: Most account managers need to juggle the needs of several clients at the same time.
  • Time management: It is up to an account manager to use their time well to ensure that all clients receive the care and attention needed.
  • Negotiation: Account managers may need to negotiate details of a deal if they want to sell additional products or services or ensure customers are satisfied with their experience.
  • Social perceptiveness: Since relationships are central to account manager careers, being able to understand and anticipate how people might respond in certain situations is essential.
  • Decision making: Account managers may have broad latitude to make decisions that can keep customers happy.

Account Manager Salary and Job Outlook

Before you start on any career path, it's smart to know what your job prospects may be. Below are national figures for occupations that can reflect account manager job growth projections, as well as recent salary and employment numbers. It's important to also understand that your account manager salary is likely to be significantly influenced by the particular industry in which you work.

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Advertising and Promotions Managers25,100$141,890
Sales Managers402,600$141,690
2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,

Where Can You Work As An Account Manager?

Account managers may be assigned to a particular type of client relationship, such as business to business (B2B) or individual customer support, or they may handle a variety of different account types.

As you explore how to become an account manager, keep in mind that account managers may find positions in a variety of industries. Depending on whether you're working as an account manager in sales, advertising and promotions, or public relations and fundraising, you may find employment in one of the following sectors:

  • Wholesale trade
  • Retail trade
  • Professional, scientific and technical services
  • Manufacturing
  • Advertising, public relations, and related services
  • Management of companies and enterprises
  • Information
  • Finance and insurance
  • Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations
  • Educational services; state, local, and private

Professional Associations for Account Managers

For more information on account management, visit these national and international organizations.

SAMA (Strategic Account Management Association)

The Association for Key Account Management

Sales Management Association

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Article Sources
  • 9 Traits of an Awesome Account Manager, Jennifer Lawrence, December 5, 2018, Leighton Interactive, Accessed May 2020,
  • About the Course, National Association of Health Underwriters, Accessed May 2020,
  • Account Manager, Investopedia, Accessed May 2020,
  • Become a Certified Strategic Account Manager, SAMA, Accessed May 2020,
  • How Do I Become an Account Manager, ZipRecruiter, Accessed May 2020,
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Accessed May 2020
  • Sales Managers,
  • Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers,
  • Public Relations and Fundraising Managers,
  • What Does an Account Manager Do? ZipRecruiter, Accessed May 2020,