What Does a Senior Manager Do? (Plus Skills and Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 7, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you enjoy having a diverse set of responsibilities, a career as a senior manager may be right for you. Senior managers have duties that include approving HR requests, assisting with budget creation and managing a team's priorities. Understanding more about the duties senior managers have can help you determine if you want to pursue this career. In this article, we explain what a senior manager does, list the skills they implement in their career, provide tips for how to become one and discuss their salary and work environment.

Related: Manager vs. Senior Manager: What's the Difference?

What does a senior manager do?

A senior manager may engage in the following duties throughout their workday:

Establishing a team's priorities and goals

A senior manager develops thoughtful strategies, which help to establish a team's priorities and goals. They set expectations and ensure that each team member understands their role and responsibilities. A senior manager also considers input from other managers, which aids them in creating effective goals. This helps promote accountability among all team members and can ensure that the team works as a cohesive unit.

Creating department budgets

A senior manager is often responsible for creating budgets for a department. They review the department's annual spending habits to ensure the team is using the available funds appropriately and ensure there aren't any deviations from the budget. Senior managers may also prepare fiscal records for the company's chief financial officer and send documents like receipts and invoices to the company's accountants.

Authorizing hiring and firing requests

A recruiter or another HR member may complete the recruiting and interviewing processes to introduce potential new employees to a team. A senior manager's responsibility is to review each candidate's qualifications and ensure they're prepared to be a valuable addition to the team. Senior managers understand what their team currently needs, so they finalize all hiring decisions.

If a team member isn't meeting company expectations, the senior manager can decide what further training the employee may need. A senior manager can also determine if it's necessary for a company to replace an employee. A senior manager makes challenging hiring and firing decisions that improve a team's overall efficiency, maintaining an unbiased perspective during each decision.

Maximizing employee performance

A senior manager is responsible for maximizing employee performance. They may offer staff advice that relates to their position, such as how to expedite specific tasks. A senior manager can also suggest and implement more efficient work processes. To do this, they may advocate for the installation of new software or encourage the use of online management tools. Additionally, senior managers often organize company workshops that employees can attend to improve their skills and contribute more productively to the organization's success.

Education requirements for senior managers

While the requirements vary based on the employer, most companies require their senior managers to obtain at least a bachelor's degree. If you earn a degree that's specific to your industry of interest, like manufacturing or engineering, your prospective employer may accept a bachelor's degree. In comparison, if you already have a bachelor's degree in a different field, it may be necessary to acquire another degree related to your intended industry. Additionally, it can be beneficial to pursue a degree in finance, communications or business, with a concentration in your specific industry.

Many employers prioritize candidates who have a bachelor's degree and master's degree. To distinguish yourself from other candidates during the hiring process, it's helpful to have a bachelor's degree in your specific industry and a master's degree in finance or business. A senior manager can also learn the skills necessary to lead a team successfully by obtaining a postgraduate degree like a Master of Business Administration.

Related: Business Administration Degrees: Part-Time, Full-Time and EMBA

Senior manager skills

Some key skills that senior managers possess include:

  • Communication: A senior manager exhibits effective communication skills which help them collaborate with their team, general managers and other department leaders.

  • Computer proficiency: Senior managers working in fields like accounting and engineering are typically proficient in using computers and are comfortable working with different types of technology.

  • Critical thinking: A senior manager often uses critical thinking skills to solve problems that arise with their team's production goals and ensure employees adhere to a consistent work schedule.

  • Organization: Senior managers are responsible for overseeing many tasks and people, so they often develop effective organizational skills to maintain their sense of reliability and increase efficiency in the workplace.

  • Public speaking: Successful senior managers are often able to speak in front of large groups and convey instructions and objectives clearly.

Tips for becoming a senior manager

Here are some helpful tips for becoming a senior manager:

Choose a relevant degree

If your career goal is to become a senior manager, it's helpful to choose a college degree related to your target industry. This decision can save you time and money. If you have an interest in a specific industry, begin by pursuing a bachelor's degree in that area. If you're unsure of what industry you want to work in as a senior manager, you can pursue a bachelor's degree in a more general topic like finance or communications. You can also earn a master's degree in those subjects, but many employers don't require senior managers to have a postgraduate degree.

Related: FAQ: Is a Communications Degree Worth It?

Gain work experience in lower-level roles

For a professional to become a senior manager, it often takes between five and ten years. You can qualify for this role by gaining work experience in lower-level positions. For example, an aspiring senior manager can work as a civil engineer or software developer. These types of positions can teach you how the industry works and help you understand common responsibilities employees have in the field. Once you gain more experience, you can pursue a role as a project coordinator or manager and eventually work toward becoming a senior manager.

Apply feedback

While you're working in lower-level roles, it's important to receive feedback and use it to improve your skills. You can request both positive and negative feedback, which can help you understand your strengths and areas of improvement. Receiving feedback can also help you learn how to provide feedback, which may prepare you for a career as a senior manager.

Related: Growing Your Career: Learning From Negative Feedback

Pursue relevant certifications

Even if you've received a college degree, it can be helpful to pursue relevant certifications. One popular credential that aspiring senior managers can earn is the Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institute. You can also earn a certificate that applies to a particular industry. For example, professionals who work in the IT industry can become Certified Information Systems Auditors via the Information Systems Audit and Control Association.

Related: 10 IT Certifications To Explore in 2021

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Senior manager salary

Senior managers earn a national average salary of $97,828 per year. In industries like engineering and manufacturing, they may have the opportunity to earn more. These professionals can also earn a higher salary depending on the city they work in and the amount of experience they have. A candidate with a master's degree may qualify for a higher salary from their initial hiring date, as they offer unique insight and knowledge they can apply to their field.

Senior manager work environment

Senior managers may work in environments of various sizes and types. For example, a senior manager can oversee a small team of 10 people within a growing engineering firm. Another senior manager may be responsible for a larger team of 50 people within a national manufacturing company. There are plenty of opportunities for employment as a senior manager, depending on your interests and experience.

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