Office Administrator vs. Office Manager: What’s the Difference?
Every office needs a strong team of administrative support professionals to keep its office running efficiently. If you enjoy working in a fast-paced environment where you are directly responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly and is well-organized, you may find a career as an office administrator or an office manager to be very rewarding. While some people use the terms office administrator and office manager interchangeably, there are several key differences between the two roles.
Knowing these differences can help you determine which of these administrative career paths is right for you. In this article, we discuss the differences between an office administrator and an office manager based on the typical job duties, necessary skills, education level, amount of experience, and the average salary for each position.
What does an office administrator do?
An office administrator is an administrative support professional who uses processes focused on the technical aspect of running an office efficiently and strategically. Common duties and responsibilities for the role of an office administrator can vary from one day to the next, but usually include:
- Organizing files, invoices, purchase orders and receipts
- Ensuring all calendars are accurate and organized
- Scheduling and organizing meetings and events
- Booking travel arrangements for executives
- Greeting clients and visitors when they arrive at the office
- Answering phone calls and responding to voicemails and emails
- Ensuring the office remains clean and organized
- Operating and maintaining office equipment such as computers and copiers
- Checking and maintaining office supply inventory, ordering new supplies as needed
- Researching and evaluating the potential of new office technology purchases
- Writing reports and preparing presentations
What does an office manager do?
An office manager is a member of the leadership team who oversees an office’s administrative support staff. Office managers use processes focused on maintaining a positive work environment to keep the office running efficiently and productively. Common duties and responsibilities for the role of an office manager can vary based on the company they work for, but usually include:
- Managing office processes such as scheduling and payroll to ensure the office runs efficiently
- Ensuring office employees and staff are happy and productive
- Hiring new employees and supervising existing employees
- Leading employee orientation and training programs
- Working with the office’s administrative staff to develop goals and priorities
- Listening to and resolving concerns from the office’s administrative staff
- Creating and managing the office’s budget and bookkeeping activities
- Writing reports and delivering presentations about office efficiency to senior management
- Giving clients or guests a tour of the office
- Scheduling appointments with office vendors
Office administrator vs. office manager
The following sections discuss the differences between an office administrator and an office manager based on:
The primary difference between the responsibilities of an office administrator and an office manager is their level of seniority and authority. Office administrators are usually responsible for the day-to-day activities that keep an office running smoothly and efficiently. Office managers are generally responsible for creating and managing office policies and procedures and overseeing the office’s administrative staff to ensure they have the training, tools, resources, and support they need to be happy and productive.
The skills needed to be successful as an office administrator or an office manager have several similarities and differences.
The primary strengths needed to be successful in the role of an office administrator include:
- Time-management skills
- Research and analysis skills
- Computer and technology skills
- Strong attention to detail
The primary strengths needed to be successful in the role of an office manager include:
- Analytical skills
- Leadership skills
- Decision-making skills
- Conflict resolution
- Emotional intelligence
Both office administrators and office managers also need the following strengths to be successful in their roles:
- Communication skills
- Ability to multitask
- Industry-specific knowledge and experience
To become an office administrator or an office manager, you need a minimum of a high school diploma. Many office administrators begin their careers before earning a college degree, but for office manager positions, most employers prefer candidates who have a minimum of an associate degree. A bachelor’s degree in areas such as management, business administration, or information technology can give candidates an advantage when applying to either of these positions.
The amount of experience necessary to become an office administrator or an office manager varies based on the employer. Typically, employers prefer candidates with at least one to two years of administrative experience for the role of an office administrator and at least two to four years of experience for the role of an office manager. A strong background in leadership or management is also beneficial for candidates who want to become office managers. Some employers also prefer candidates who have experience specific to the company’s industry.
Upon hiring, office administrators typically receive on-the-job training to learn the systems, processes, and procedures the office uses. This training usually lasts for a period of a few weeks and up to one month. Office administrators working in medical or technical fields may require more extensive training for their specific field. Most office managers do not receive on-the-job training when beginning their position because they already have extensive administrative and leadership experience that has prepared them for their roles. As they gain experience in their role, office administrators can earn promotions to the role of office manager.
The salary of an office administrator and office manager may vary based on their geographic location, the size of the company they work for, their level of education and the amount of relevant experience they have. Typically, office managers earn a higher base salary than office administrators do. Office managers may also earn additional compensation, such as bonuses.
Jobs similar to office administrators and office managers
If helping an office or organization run smoothly appeals to you, there are many jobs to consider. Here are 10 jobs similar to an office administrator and office manager:
- Administrative coordinator
- Front office administrator
- Administrative manager
- Executive services administrator
- General manager
- Special programs coordinator
- Administrative support manager
- Office assistant
- Operations manager
- Office clerk