Learn About Being an Area Manager
What does an area manager do?
An area manager, also known as a regional manager or a district manager, is an executive role responsible for the operations and financial health of a geographical region of stores or offices. Some of the duties area managers typically have are:
Providing training and development opportunities for staff
Communicating with clients, vendors and customers regularly
Ensuring that the company’s quality is consistent across their area of responsibility
Maximizing sales and profit margins across their region
Setting sales targets for individual store locations
Assessing the status and performance of the locations within their region
Area managers are almost always paid an annual salary rather than an hourly rate, which can vary depending on how much prior management experience they have, the area they’re assigned to manage and what company they’re working for. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.
Common salary in the U.S.: $61,381 per year
Some salaries range from $14,000 to $154,000 per year.
Area manager requirements
Becoming an area manager may involve a combination of the following:
Most of the time, an area manager is required to have a bachelor’s degree in a marketing, finance or business-related field. An education in one of these fields introduces an area manager to basic corporate business principles and the responsibilities and tasks of occupying an upper management position.
Area managers typically earn their positions by advancing from lower-level management positions. Working closely with upper management while working as a store manager can help an area manager learn important distinctions between upper management and daily operations management. A store manager who demonstrates that they can consistently meet sales goals while working in their store is a competitive candidate for a promotion to an area manager.
Area managers do not require any particular certifications to earn their position. However, there are certifications available for area managers who wish to increase their earning capacity or make themselves more competitive when attempting to advance in their management careers.
The Retail Management Certificate (RMC) is sought after by retail managers at all levels. It’s an accredited business program that can be completed in a year, and it provides area managers with new strategies and perspectives to apply to their position within the retail industry. Many store or department managers earn their RMC as a step to advancing into an area manager role.
Some of the most important skills for an area manager to master are:
Area managers are tasked with overseeing dozens of locations within a region and ensuring that each location is meeting sales goals and performing as expected. Developed leadership skills help area managers keep the morale of their stores high and allow them to make challenging choices within individual locations to help increase performance.
An area manager is frequently traveling between individual locations and meeting with each store’s management, staff and consumer base. During these travels, the area manager must be able to inspire each location’s staff with comfort and confidence and to feel in touch with them. An effective area manager must be able to adjust their communication style to speak candidly and kindly with a store’s management and staff about where they are succeeding and where they may be struggling to meet their goals, as well as providing potential solutions.
An area manager may encounter any number of potential challenges within their region of management. These problems may range in scale from a single struggling department within an individual location to a systemic set of challenges that fall upon most or all of the stores within a manager’s region. An area manager with strong problem-solving skills will be able to work with the management and staff within their region to develop and implement solutions to these complex challenges
The area manager must be capable of using their store’s retail management software to process shipping orders and receipts, implement employee schedules, make adjustments to store inventory prices and track the store’s progress toward its goals over time.
These professionals must be able to maintain a working knowledge of the management, staff, goals and challenges of each distinct store within their area of management. Organizational skills help an area manager keep track of each of these pieces of information without confusion.
Area manager work environment
Area managers work in the regional or corporate offices of stores and businesses in many industries. An area manager may spend as much as 75% of their time at work traveling between locations within their region to help increase sales, train store managers and address any challenges that may arise. During the time that an area manager is not traveling between locations, they will typically be working from their office to analyze sales and performance data for the store within their region, maintaining regional budgets and communicating with other area managers and upper-level management to develop new sales strategies.
Area managers work full time and often have flexibility in the hours they spend on the job when they’re in the office, however, their broad range of responsibilities and the frequency of their travel often means that they work more than 40 hours a week to ensure that they’ve completed all of their tasks.
How to become an area manager
You can follow these general steps to become an area manager:
1. Earn a high school diploma or an equivalent.
Becoming an area manager requires at least a bachelor’s degree, which means that you must first earn a high school diploma or an equivalent. For those without a high school diploma, the General Education Development test (GED) can be taken to earn a nationally recognized credential equivalent to a high school degree.
2. Spend time working in a retail position.
While you’re still in high school or a university, consider an entry-level position in retail, such as cashier or stocker. Starting your career in retail while you’re still working on your education will allow you to earn valuable professional experience early.
3. Earn a business degree.
To become an area manager, you must have a bachelor’s degree in finance, marketing or another business-related field. Earning a degree in one of these fields prepares you for the responsibilities of upper management as well as providing you with an understanding of fundamental business and sales principles. During this time, you may wish to also earn an RMC certification to help make your transition into an upper management position easier.
4. Become a store manager.
After you’ve completed your education and have some experience working in the retail field, you may advance to a managerial position within your store. This role can help you earn management experience and help demonstrate your ability to generate sales and resolve
5. Advance to an area manager.
Whenever you’ve got an opportunity to speak with upper management, express interest in advancement to an area management
Area manager job description example
Blue Tag department stores are looking to hire a dedicated area manager to oversee 24 of our stores throughout Florida and Georgia. The area manager will be responsible for ensuring that each store in the region is meeting quarterly and annual sales goals and addressing any challenges that a given store may have reaching those goals. The area manager will travel between stores making individual visits with managers and staff members. As an area manager, you will report to Blue Tag corporate management and communicate the status, needs and goals of your region’s stores and your region as a whole.
Candidates must be willing to travel at least 75% of the time. A bachelor’s degree in business, marketing or a related field is required. We prefer a candidate with at least five years of prior retail management experience, and hiring preference will be given to candidates with a Retail Management Certification and candidates who have a history of success managing Blue Tag retail stores.
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