If you enjoy wearing a lot of hats all at the same time, working as a general office manager allows you to indulge in not only a quirky sense of fashion, but a wide range of duties that will likely stave off boredom. Small-business office managers often do everything from accounting and clerical work to supervising employees. This isn't an entry-level job, and the more experience you have in different areas of office work, the more competitive you are as a job candidate.
You don't have to spend four years getting a bachelor's degree, but having one can increase your chances of being employed. Many years of job experience, including in a supervisory capacity, can substitute for a formal degree, but many employers like to see at least some college work, an associate degree or certificate course in business, accounting or a related field. Employers also look for excellent communication skills and a good sense of customer service. You'll multitask a lot in this position, so the ability to prioritize work while still attending to details is crucial.
Numerous details go into running an office efficiently, from creating a system for scheduling and maintaining calendars for employees, to ordering office supplies and overseeing the maintenance of facilities. You could keep inventories of supplies and materials, issue and maintain office equipment, work on space planning, provide support for clients and management, and ensure phones are answered and filing is done accurately. Some office managers handle general customer service queries, negotiate with and monitor vendors and create systems for efficient office workflow.
Even in a small office, you'll probably have an employee or two to manage, such as a receptionist and administrative assistant. In fact, in many small businesses, the office manager is responsible for human resources, doing tasks such as hiring, performance reviews, payroll and benefits administration. Business management duties may also fall in your purview, such as helping to create and administer a budget, contract administration, preparing financial reports and implementing company policies.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 15 percent growth rate for administrative services managers through 2020. Facilities managers, who oversee all aspects of a company’s physical premises, should have good job prospects, and it's a field you'll be qualified to enter after gaining experience as a general office manager. The BLS notes that the ability to handle a variety of duties will be more attractive to employers than specializing in a niche. Career advancement opportunities include heading a department for a large corporation or becoming a business manager for a small business.
Since 1997, Maria Christensen has written about business, history, food, culture and travel for diverse publications. She ran her own business writing employee handbooks and business process manuals for small businesses, authored a guidebook to Seattle, and works as an accountant for a software company. Christensen studied communications at the University of Washington and history at Armstrong Atlantic State University.