Organizational Leadership Careers

What is Organizational Leadership?

As an academic discipline, organizational leadership combines insights from change management theory, organizational development and learning, data analytics, human resource management, and other fields.

Its goal: To prepare professionals from diverse career backgrounds to build stronger, more effective organizations and a more skilled, engaged workforce.

In real-world practice, trained organizational leaders apply these insights to:

  • Create and communicate a vision for their organization
  • Drive systemic change, improvement, and innovation within the organization
  • Inspire, train, and motivate a diverse, engaged workforce
  • Anticipate and adapt to changes in the external and internal environments
  • Address emerging issues in diversity, sustainability, technology, and ethics

Applicable across industries and educational, governmental, and nonprofit sectors, the field of organizational leadership seeks to provide proven, systematic approaches to driving successful organizational change in diverse environments.

Careers in Organizational Leadership

Based on job data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), organizational leaders should be in demand across the corporate, education, government, and healthcare sectors through 2026. Typically, these positions will require subject area expertise and experience as well as the ability to lead systemic change and an increasingly diverse workforce.

Candidates with degrees in organizational leadership will be well-positioned to compete for a variety of positions offering both attractive compensation packages and the opportunity to positively impact tomorrow’s workplaces.

Below are just a few of these positions along with salary and job outlook information extracted from the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook. (Viewed online on 3/29/2018.)

Top Executives/Corporate Officers

Spanning a variety of fields, executive positions include:

  • CEOs, COO’s, general and operations managers in the private or corporate sector
  • Mayors, governors, city managers and county administrators in the public sector
  • School superintendents and college and university presidents in the education sector

Tasked with developing and achieving a blueprint for an organization’s or department’s success, these leaders can expect challenging careers and high compensation levels. Candidates with advanced degrees, extensive managerial experience, and subject matter expertise will have the advantage pursuing these often competitive positions.

Median Pay: $103,950 annually

Projected Job Growth 2016 - 2026: 8% overall with wide variation by occupation and industry

Human Resources Managers

Job responsibilities for human resources managers or directors vary depending upon the size and complexity of their organizations; however, their overall goal is to maximize the value and productivity of employees. Their areas of responsibility may include: recruitment, training and development, compensation and benefits management, and personnel-related strategic planning. In larger organizations, these responsibilities may fall under specialized HR managers.

Although the field is expected to experience average growth over the next decade, the BLS predicts strong competition for most positions. Candidates with specialized HR certifications and/or at least a master’s degree will have the competitive advantage. Organizations offering these certifications include: The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), HR Certification Institute (HRCI), WorldatWork, and the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.

Median Pay: $106,910

Projected Job Growth 2016-2026: 9% or as fast as average

Training and Development Managers

Working with other managers as well as top executives, these managers “oversee staff and plan, direct, and coordinate programs to enhance the knowledge and skills of an organization’s employees.” The demand for training professionals is expected to grow faster than average for all other occupations as the need for highly skilled employees increase.

Median Pay: $105,830 per year

Projected Job Growth 2016-2026: 10% or faster than average

Management Analysts/Management Consultants

Management analysis and consulting involves identifying and recommending new systems, procedures and organizational changes, making it an excellent fit for candidates with an advanced degree in organizational leadership. Employment in this area is expected to grow faster than average as government agencies, healthcare, and industry seek to improve efficiency and control costs. The BLS notes that growth will be especially strong in small consulting companies specializing in particular fields such as human resources or information technology. In addition to an advanced degree, a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation, awarded through the Institute of Management Consultants USA, may give job seekers a competitive edge.

Median Pay: $81,330 per year

Projected Job Growth 2016-2026: 14% or faster than average

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Principals manage daily school operations, including overseeing faculty and staff, developing budgets, coordinating curricula, and communicating with parents and the community. These positions typically require a master’s degree in education administration or leadership and several years of experience as a teacher. Although requirements vary by state, in most states public school principals must be licensed as school administrators and hold a valid teaching certificate. Private school principals, however, are not required to be licensed. Though growth is expected, employment may be affected by student enrollment, state and local budgets, and retirements among baby-boomers.

Median Pay: $92,510 per year

Projected Job Growth 2016-2026: 8% as fast as average

Postsecondary Education Administrators

Administrators’ job duties vary based on the area of the college they manage, such as admissions, student affairs, or the registrar’s office. (For a detailed list of duties in these areas, see this page of the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook.) These positions usually require at least a master’s degree though a bachelor’s degree may be acceptable at smaller institutions or community colleges.

Median Pay: $90,760 per year

Projected Job Outlook 2016-2026: 10% or faster than average

Medical and Health Services Managers/Healthcare Executives or Administrators

Healthcare executives and administrators plan, direct, and coordinate medical and health services in hospitals, nursing homes, and group medical practices. The BLS projects much faster than average growth in this field thanks to: an aging and more active boomer population, growing complexity in group practice management, and demand for health IT and informatics expertise.

Job seekers in this field typically have some experience in a healthcare-related setting and at least a bachelor’s degree. Applicants should be aware that state licensure is required in many healthcare settings (e.g., nursing home administration) and that certain certifications can provide a competitive edge.

Median Pay: $96, 540

Projected Job Growth 2016-2026: 20% or much faster than average

Sales Managers

Sales managers develop sales goals, analyze data, project inventory requirements, recruit sales representatives, and develop training programs for those representatives. Positions typically require a bachelor’s degree and related work experience. The BLS expects average growth in this field as companies increase their emphasis on customer service and attempt to “navigate the mix between online and brick-and-mortar sales.”

Median Pay: $117,960

Projected Job Growth 2016-2026: 7% or as fast as average

Industrial Production Management

Industrial production managers oversee the daily operations of manufacturing and related plants – coordinating, planning, and directing the activities used to create goods ranging from cars to paper products. In contrast to other leadership and management positions, little growth is expected in this field over the next decade due to outsourcing and leaner production models that rely on robotics and technology. However, recent trends in “reshoring” manufacturing operations may alter this outlook.

Median Pay: $97,140

Projected Job Growth 2016-2026: -1% or little or no change

Career Resources for Organizational Leaders

Professional associations can provide valuable resources for advancing your career and staying up-to-date on the latest developments in organizational leadership or your industry. These resources include:

  • Job boards
  • Research publications and magazines
  • Continuing education courses
  • Networking events and webinars
  • Specialized career certifications

For emerging organizational leaders, the following associations as well as your university’s alumni association are excellent places to start connecting with others in your field: