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Employment & Occupational Guide

Administrative Service Managers
Source: General Services Administration

Significant Points

  • Many advance to these jobs by acquiring work experience in various administrative positions.
  • Keen competition is expected due to low turnover and an ample supply of competent, experienced workers seeking managerial jobs.

Nature of the Work

Administrative services managers are employed throughout the American economy, and their range of duties is broad. They coordinate and direct support services, which may include: secretarial and reception; administration; payroll; conference planning and travel; information and data processing; mail; facilities management; materials scheduling and distribution; printing and reproduction; records management; telecommunications management; personal property procurement, supply, and disposal; security; and parking.

In small organizations, a single administrative services manager may oversee all support services. In larger ones, however, first-line administrative services managers report to mid-level supervisors who, in turn, report to proprietors or top-level managers. The upper-level managers, with titles such as vice president of administrative services, are included in the Handbook statement on general managers and top executives.

First-line administrative services managers directly oversee a staff that performs various support services. Mid-level managers develop departmental plans, set goals and deadlines, develop procedures to improve productivity and customer service, and define the responsibilities of supervisory-level managers. They are often involved in the hiring and dismissal of employees, but generally have no role in the formulation of personnel policy.

As the size of the firm increases, administrative services managers are more likely to specialize in one or more support activities. For example, some administrative services managers work primarily as facilities managers, office managers, property managers, or unclaimed property officers. In many cases, the duties of these administrative services managers are quite similar to those of other managers and supervisors, some of whom are discussed in other Handbook statements.

Administrative services managers who specialize in facilities management or planning may oversee the purchase, sale, or lease of facilities; redesign work areas to be more efficient and user-friendly; ensure that facilities comply with government regulations; and supervise maintenance, grounds, and custodial staffs. In some firms, they are called facilities managers.

Some mid-level administrative services managers oversee first-line supervisors from various departments, including the clerical staff. In small firms, however, clerical supervisors, who are discussed in the Handbook statement on clerical supervisors and managers, perform this function.

Property management is divided into the following functions: Management and use of personal property such as office supplies, administrative services management, and real property management (a function of property and real estate managers, who are discussed elsewhere in the Handbook). Personal property managers acquire, distribute, and store supplies, and may sell or dispose of surplus property. Other property managers are engaged solely in surplus property disposal, which involves the resale of scraps, rejects, and surplus or unneeded supplies and machinery. This is an increasingly important source of revenue for many commercial organizations. In government, surplus property officers may receive surplus from various departments and agencies, and then sell or dispose of it to the public or other agencies.

Some administrative services managers oversee unclaimed property disposal. In government, this activity may entail auctioning off unclaimed liquid assets such as stocks, bonds, the contents of safe deposit boxes, or personal property such as motor vehicles, after attempts to locate their rightful owners have failed.

Working Conditions

Administrative services managers generally work in comfortable offices. In smaller organizations, they may work alongside the people they supervise and the office may be crowded and noisy.

The work of administrative services managers can be stressful, as they attempt to schedule work to meet deadlines. Although the 40-hour week is standard, uncompensated overtime is often required to resolve problems. Managers involved in personal property procurement, use, and disposal may travel extensively between their home office, branch offices, vendors' offices, and property sales sites. Facilities managers who are responsible for the design of work spaces may spend time at construction sites and may travel between different facilities while monitoring the work of maintenance, grounds, and custodial staffs.


Administrative services managers held about 291,000 jobs in 1996. Over half worked in service industries, including management, business, social, and health services organizations. Others were found in virtually every other industry.

Training, Other Qualifications, and Advancement

Many administrative services managers advance through the ranks in their organization, acquiring work experience in various administrative positions before assuming first-line supervisory duties. All managers who oversee departmental supervisors should be familiar with office procedures and equipment. Facilities managers may have a background in architecture, engineering, construction, interior design, or real estate, in addition to managerial experience. Managers of personal property acquisition and disposal need experience in purchasing and sales, and knowledge of a wide variety of supplies, machinery, and equipment. Managers concerned with supply, inventory, and distribution must be experienced in receiving, warehousing, packaging, shipping, transportation, and related operations. Managers of unclaimed property often have experience in insurance claims analysis and records management.

Educational requirements for these managers vary widely, depending on the size and complexity of the organization. In small organizations, experience may be the only requirement needed to enter a position as office manager. When an opening in administrative services management occurs, the office manager may be promoted to the position based on past performance. In large organizations, however, administrative services managers are normally hired from outside, and each position has formal requirements concerning education and experience. For first-line administrative services managers of secretarial, mail room, and related support activities, many employers prefer an associate degree in business or management, although a high school diploma may suffice when combined with appropriate experience. For managers of audiovisual, graphics, and other technical activities, postsecondary technical school training is preferred. For managers of highly complex services, a bachelor's degree in business, human resources, or finance is often required. The curriculum should include courses in office technology, accounting, business mathematics, computer applications, human resources, and business law. Similarly, facilities managers may need a bachelor's degree in engineering, architecture, or business administration, although some have an associate degree in a technical specialty. Some administrative services managers have advanced degrees. Whatever the manager's educational background, it must be accompanied by related work experience reflecting demonstrated ability.

Persons interested in becoming administrative services managers should have good communication skills and be able to establish effective working relationships with many different people, ranging from managers, supervisors, and professionals, to clerks and blue-collar workers. They should be analytical, detail oriented, flexible, and decisive. The ability to coordinate several activities at once and quickly analyze and resolve specific problems is important. Ability to work under pressure and cope with deadlines is also important.

Advancement in small organizations is normally achieved by moving to other management positions or to a larger organization. Advancement is easier in large firms employing several levels of administrative services managers. Attainment of the Certified Administrative Manager (CAM) designation, through work experience and successful completion of examinations offered by the Institute of Certified Professional Managers, can increase one's advancement potential. A bachelor's degree enhances a first-level manager's opportunities to advance to a mid-level management position, such as director of administrative services, and eventually to a top-level management position, such as executive vice president for administrative services. Those with the required capital and experience can establish their own management consulting firm.

Job Outlook

Employment of administrative services managers is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through the year 2006. Like other managerial occupations, this occupation is characterized by low turnover. These factors, coupled with the ample supply of competent, experienced workers seeking managerial jobs, should result in keen competition for administrative services management positions in the coming years.

Many firms are increasingly contracting out administrative services positions and otherwise streamlining these functions in an effort to cut costs. Corporate restructuring has reduced the number of administrative services manager positions in recent years, and this trend is expected to continue.

As it becomes more common for firms and governments at all levels to contract out administrative services, demand for administrative services managers will increase in the management services, management consulting, and facilities support services firms providing these services.


Earnings of administrative services managers vary greatly depending on their employer, specialty, and geographic area in which they work. According to a 1996 survey conducted by the AMS Foundation, building services/facilities managers earned about $53,800 a year in 1996; office/administrative services managers earned about $41,400; and records managers about $37,900.

In the Federal Government, facilities managers in nonsupervisory, supervisory, and managerial positions averaged $49,140 a year in early 1997; miscellaneous administrative and program officers, $53,330; industrial property managers, $47,930; property disposal specialists, $43,460; administrative officers $49,070, and support services administrators, $39,700.

Related Occupations

Administrative services managers direct and coordinate support services and oversee the purchase, use, and disposal of personal property. Occupations with similar functions include administrative assistants, appraisers, buyers, clerical supervisors, contract specialists, cost estimators, procurement services managers, property and real estate managers, purchasing managers, and personnel managers.

Sources of Additional Information

For information about careers in facilities management, contact:

International Facility Management Association, 1 East Greenway Plaza, Suite 1100, Houston, TX 77046-0194 Homepage: http://

For information about the certified administrative manager designation, contact:

Institute of Certified Professional Managers, James Madison University, College of Business, Harrisonburg, VA 22807.

For information about compensation of administrative managers, contact:

AMS Foundation, 350 W. Jackson Boulevard, Suite 360, Chicago, IL 60661.





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