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Administrative Services Manager Career, Earnings, and Job Information

Administrative Services Manager Career and Job Highlights

  • Administrative services managers, employed by both private companies and the government, fulfill many responsibilities and have various levels of experience, earnings, and education.
  • Competition for jobs in management is intense because there are many qualified applicants.

Administrative Services Manager Career and Job Description

Administrative services managers provide many services and work in nearly all parts of the economy. Their primary duty is managing support services for various organizations, from large government agencies to small businesses. These workers help organizations work efficiently by directing numerous logistic services for both personnel (such as payroll and records, secretarial and reception, conference planning and travel) and physical administration (such as mail, information and data processing, materials scheduling and distribution, telecommunications management, and security and parking).

Duties and responsibilities for managers differ according to the position within an organization. First-line administrative services managers work directly with a staff to provide various support services. By contrast, the broader objectives of mid-level managers include creating departmental plans, targets, and deadlines; executing strategies to improve efficiency and customer service’ and delineating and overseeing the duties of supervisory-level managers (which can include the first-line managers of the clerical staff and other departments). While some mid-level managers may also participate in employment decisions, they typically do not help formulate personnel policy. It is possible for some managers to gain upper management status with a promotion, for example, to vice president of administrative services.

Managerial organization varies widely. For a small business or agency, there may only be one administrative services manager to direct all support services. For larger organizations, there may be several levels of management, with first-line administrative services managers reporting to mid-level managers who are themselves overseen by owners or upper-level managers. The larger the firm, the more likely it is that its administrative services managers will have specific specializations. A company may, for instance, have several administrative services managers who serve principally as office managers, some who work as contract administrators, and others who oversee unclaimed property.

Because organizations demand so much versatility from administrative services managers, there is wide variance in the nature of their jobs. Managers working as contract administrators, for example, would oversee all phases of contracts related to the purchase or sale of goods or services, from research and analysis to negotiation and review. Moreover, some administrative services managers oversee the acquisition, distribution, and storage of materials, while other managers dispose of surplus or unclaimed property.

Some administrative services managers work in facility management, where they coordinate an organization’s physical facilities with its people and work. In planning for and supervising buildings, grounds, and people, facility managers must integrate principles from fields as disparate as business administration, architecture, engineering, and behavioral science. Facility managers’ exact duties differ considerably from one organization to the next, but general categories include real estate, finance, facility function, quality assessment, day-to-day operations and maintenance, communication and technology, and administration of environmental factors. Some specific responsibilities might consist of creating budgets, managing leases, purchasing or selling real estate, renovating company facilities, designing new facilities, and directing staff members (such as maintenance and custodial workers). Facility managers regularly monitor facilities and projects to ensure that they are safe, reliable, and in compliance with organization and government regulations and requirements.

Administrative Services Manager Training and Job Qualifications

Although some do hold advanced degrees, there is no fixed educational requirement for these managers. Rather, qualifications depend on an organization’s size and complexity. A small organization might hire an office manager solely because of his or her experience. In time, the company might promote an efficient office manager to a position in administrative services. Large organizations are more rigid in their hiring practices: each administrative service post typically has a formal education and experience requirement, and new managers usually come from outside the firm.

Different jobs require different qualifications. A high school diploma and some relevant experience may be enough for a position as a first-line administrative services manager of secretarial, mailroom, and similar support services, but an associate’s degree in business or management is usually preferred. To manage technical activities (audiovisual, graphics, etc.), most employers ask for postsecondary technical school training. A bachelor’s degree in finance, business, management, or human resources is a common prerequisite for managers of contract administration and other decidedly complex services. Someone interested in administrative services management, regardless of major, should take classes in accounting, business law, and human resources, and should be experienced with office technologies and computer applications. In addition to having managerial experience, many facility managers have worked in construction, real estate, or interior design; most have at least an undergraduate degree in architecture, engineering, construction management, business administration, or facility management.

Education alone is not enough, however; a manager must also have demonstrated ability and relevant work experience. Many administrative services managers obtain this necessary experience by working their way up an organization through various administrative positions before taking on the duties of a first-line supervisor. Such experiences can be invaluable because managers should understand the positions they supervise. Managers of department supervisors must know office equipment and procedures. Managers of personal property acquisition and disposal must be experienced in sales and purchasing and need to understand the materials and equipment they deal with. Managers responsible for supply, inventory, and distribution need a background in shipping operations, transporting, warehousing, and the like. Contract administrators benefit from having worked as procurement specialists or as contract analysts, and managers of unclaimed property frequently have backgrounds as insurance claims analysts and as records managers.

Because they work with numerous people in various positions—from executives and supervisors to clerks and maintenance workers—effective administrative services managers need to communicate well and should have excellent interpersonal skills. They must be able to handle pressure effectively and meet deadlines; they should be analytical but capable of quickly making decisions about multiple projects; and they need to be flexible but still be detail-oriented.

There are several ways administrative services managers can advance, depending on the size of the organization. In small organizations, they can move internally to other management positions, or they can go to a larger organization. Advancement opportunities come more easily in large firms that employ administrative services managers at multiple levels. Managers can improve their prospects for advancement by earning the Certified Administrative Manager (CAM) designation. The Institute of Certified Professional Managers confers this title on managers who have sufficient work experience and who pass the institute’s examinations. Advancement opportunities also increase with a master’s degree in business administration or similar field. Such a degree will provide new managers the skills necessary to move from first-level positions to mid-level management positions, such as director of administrative services, and potentially even to positions in upper-level management, such as executive vice president for administrative services. Experienced managers can also move into consulting; those with enough money often start their own firms.

For facility managers, advancement depends on the size and practices of the organization. Many facility managers change departments within an organization; others start in technical positions and gradually work their way up, gaining additional responsibilities as they progress. Facility managers who earn professional certification from the International Facility Management Association have an advantage. The Certified Facility Manager (CFM) program requires that applicants meet certain educational and experience conditions.

Job Outlook and Employment Opportunities
According to projections through 2012, jobs for administrative services managers will grow as fast as the average for all occupations. Competition for these positions, as for all managerial positions, will be keen because there are fewer jobs available than there are qualified workers. Demand for facility managers should be high, as more and more companies see the need to efficiently protect and operate their facilities. Because of current market practices such as streamlining and contracting out administrative services functions, demand should also be strong for administrative services managers working in management services and management consulting.

On the other hand, some middle management positions will be eliminated because of ongoing corporate restructuring and increasing use of office technology, both of which flatten an organization’s structure. This trend will result in fewer positions for administrative services managers who oversee first-line mangers. Despite such reorganizations, administrative services managers, who generally have a broad range of responsibilities, should feel fewer adverse effects than other middle managers with more limited specializations. During the 2002–12 projection period, jobs in administrative services management will come from both newly created positions and positions left by workers who retire, stop working for other reasons, or change job fields.

Historical Earning Information

Salaries for administrative services managers vary widely by employer, specialty, and geographic region. In 2002, administrative services managers had median annual earnings of $52,500, with the range for the middle 50 percent being $36,190 to $74,590. The highest 10 percent earned over $99,870 per year, while the lowest 10 percent earned less than $26,120. The table below compares median annual earnings from the industries that employed the most managers in 2002:

  • Management of companies and enterprises – $66,700
  • Elementary and secondary schools – $59,220
  • Colleges, universities, and professional schools – $56,960
  • State government – $55,710
  • Local government – $51,570

For other fields that also employ administrative services managers, the average yearly earnings for 2003 were as follows: contract specialists working for the Federal Government, in non-supervisory, supervisory, and managerial positions, earned an average of $66,309; facilities operations averaged $63,509; industrial property managers averaged $62,552; property disposal specialists averaged $58,880; administrative officers averaged $62,751; and support services administrators averaged $52,824.