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Management, business and administration: career FAQs

Graduate careers in management, business and administration: getting a job, applications, working life and salaries.

How can I get a job in management, business and administration?

The most popular way to get started in management is to join a training scheme with a large employer. There are schemes in most sectors and they tend to involve a series of placements. You might have a chance to work in a variety of departments so that you can choose one that suits you, or you could spend your time at different branches to see how they operate. Graduate management training schemes can be highly competitive so you’ll need to possess a range of soft skills as well as academic abilities.

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) also offer management opportunities but they tend to be harder to find and may require some prior experience. You could work your way up in the company – SMEs tend to recognise contributions and reward them with swift promotion.

It’s possible to become a manager by progressing from a hands-on role in any sector. As you become more senior, you’ll take responsibility for overseeing the work of new colleagues (as a team leader) and may progress to running a department (middle management) or even the business (senior management). People who progress through the ranks into a management role often bring practical expertise and a more down-to-earth approach.

What are the different areas of work?

Managers can work in any job sector and specialise in almost any area. Most large organisations have a similar structure: senior managers make big decisions; middle and lower management oversee their implementation and make small decisions; non-managers follow instructions. As a manager in a small organisation, you may find that you’re involved in a variety of areas, but you’ll still need to make decisions, provide leadership and build your skills. You can choose to work in an area that matches your interests. Options include:

  • Managing a particular aspect of an organisation’s business needs, such as human resources, finance or marketing.
  • Running a department of an organisation, such as the menswear department of a large shop.
  • Becoming a branch manager of a chain establishment, such as a shop, a restaurant or a hotel.

What’s involved in the application process?

Management training courses with large companies tend to follow a formal application process: application form followed by one or more interview stages, with possibly an assessment centre.

What qualifications and skills do I need to work in management, business and administration?

You can work in management no matter what subject you studied at university. A degree in management or business helps, but isn’t essential, and you might need a numerate background if you choose financial management, but you can start a managerial role from practically any background. You will receive lots of on-the-job training to equip you with the skills necessary to be an effective manager.

‘Soft skills’ are invaluable in management because there’s a great deal of work with other people. Academic ability is useful but you’re sure to have developed some softer skills if you’ve been involved in extra-curricular activities such as sports clubs and university societies. Popular skills in management include interpersonal skills, the ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of people and leadership skills.

Every manager needs good commercial awareness so that the organisation can succeed in the business world. Even managers of not-for-profit organisations need a head for figures to keep control of finances and secure additional funding.

What are the opportunities for professional development?

Some employers send managers on postgraduate courses to enhance their management skills. The most popular form is the masters in business administration (MBA).

What are the salaries in management, business and administration?

Starting salaries for graduate managers tend to be quite generous, but this varies according to your employer. Wages can increase rapidly once you are on the career ladder.

What is working life like?

Managers have great responsibility: this may be stressful as you will be under pressure to succeed, but success will bring rewards. Managers are highly visible so your hard work will certainly be appreciated, and the rewards may be tangible.