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Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

Career Guide | Management and Leadership M.S.

A master's degree in management and leadership will help you take your career to the next level.

Earn the raise, get the promotion, transition to an exciting new position or field. With a master's degree in management and leadership, you can take your career to the next level and boost your résumé. If you're ready to become a business leader who manages a team, makes important decisions, and has a huge impact, it's time to earn a master's degree. Take control of your future and become a great business leader with the help of a respected degree.

A group of coworkers meet together on office furniture.

Manager

Average Salary—$95,000 per year | Job Outlook—7% growth by 2028

Every team, department, and organization needs good management in place to help the company thrive. Usually in an organization there will be many different managers—sales managers, product managers, operations managers, project managers, and more. Managers are in charge of directing teams, creating goals and helping everyone reach them, overseeing individual tasks as well as the larger objective, and helping everyone on their team be successful. Managers often report to higher-level executives on progress, and are an important part in making sure an organization has a good flow of communication and delegation of tasks. 

Management occupations earn an average annual salary of $95,000. The lowest 10% earn about $48,000 per year, while the top 10% earn more than $149,000 per year. The amount of money you can earn will largely depend on your industry and specialty. For example, food service managers may make less than sales managers.

Management positions are expected to grow about 7% by 2028, which is about as fast as the national average. Management positions tend to have lower turnover, which is why the growth rate isn't higher. Once you're in a management position, you typically stay in a management position. This is why it is key to get a degree that can help set you apart from the competition for this jobs. 

For most management positions, a master's degree will be required to even apply for the job. Executives want to know that their managers are trained in communication, business practices, and management and leadership styles and strategies. A master's degree in management and leadership will help you get important training in how to work with employees, communication, strategy, and management styles. This is critical in helping you become a great business leader with the skills and credentials you need to succeed.

A team meets via teleconference on a computer.

Director

Average Salary—$104,000 per year | Job Outlook—6% growth by 2028

In every organization there is typically a hierarchy of leadership. Managers, directors, and top executives. Directors tend to work over entire departments, helping everyone on their team understand the goals of the organization and work cohesively to meet those goals. They are in charge of reporting their wins and losses to the higher level executives, and communicating down to their employees to help everyone understand the requests and direction of the organization. 

Directors earn an average annual salary of around $104,000 per year. The bottom 10% of directors earn about $62,000 per year while the top 10% can earn more than $200,000 per year. The industry where you work, the size of your team and department, and your location are all key components in determining how much you can earn as a director. 

Director positions are expected to grow 6% by 2028. It's common for higher levels in an organization to see lower turnover, meaning fewer positions tend to be available. However, these positions are still opening up at a fairly consistant rate, meaning for someone with the right education, an opportunity is sure to come.

A master's degree will be vital in being qualified for a director-level position. A master's degree in management and leadership will help you have the specific business skills you need, as well as comprehensive management, communication, and strategy skills that will help you be effective in a leadership role.

Man and woman in office doing job interview

COO

Average Salary—$143,000 per year | Job Outlook—6% growth by 2028

The COO or Chief Operating Officer plays a critical role on the executive team of an organizaiton. They oversee the administrative function and day-to-day operations of the entire organization. They have directors and entire departments that ultimately report to them. They help communicate the goals, strategies, and projects that different teams need to accomplish. They work with the other executive team members to analyze what needs to be improved and adjusted in their organization for greater success.

COOs earn an average of $143,000 per year, with the bottom 10% earning around $72,000 per year, and the top 10% earning more than $240,000 per year. A COO of a larger company can expect to earn much more than a COO of a smaller company. The industry where you work and the location where you live are also key in determining your salary level.

COO positions are expected to grow 6% by 2028, as fast as the national average. There is a bit of competition for executive level positions, so it's important to get as much education and experience as possible to help you stand out from the comeptition and get a COO position.

A master's degree in management and leadership can be instrumental in helping you become a COO. Most executive positions will require a master's degree for a candidate to even be considered, and a management and leadership master's degree will demonstrate your skills and training in communication, strategy, business skills, and more. 

A group of business people meeting in a board room.

CEO

Average Salary—$184000 per year | Job Outlook—6% growth by 2028

The Chief Executive Officer or CEO plays a critical role in an organization. The CEO is the highest ranking member of an organization and oversees the entire organization and the work that is being done. Other directors and executives often report directly to the CEO to show what work is being done, what improvements are being made, how sales and services are performing, and more. The CEO helps regulate budgets, operations, marketing, and the entire strategy of the organization along with the other chief executives. They usually have the final say in what an organization will do, and are vital to success.

CEOs earn an average annual salary of around $184,000 per year. The bottom 10% of CEOs earn about $120,000 per year, and the top 10% can earn more than $270,000 per year. The size of the organization where you are CEO will play the largest factor in your salary level.

CEO positions are expected to grow 6% by 2028, on pace with the national average. CEOs have lower turnover rates, making it more competitive to land a position. However there are still many opportunities for those who want to move up and take their career to the next level.

For most CEO positions, a master's degree will be required. A master's degree in management and leadership will help you prepare for the rigors of this position—giving you experience in finances, marketing, communication, strategy, and leadership. These skills will be vital in helping you take charge and run an entire organization.