Account Manager Career Path Guide (2024)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about valuable work an account manager does and how to become one, including the education and skills you'll need to start.

[Featured image] Account manager shows sales figures to client

Businesses with customers typically benefit from having account managers. These are workers who attract customers for companies and help retain them. If you like talking to people and solving problems for them, you may be a good fit for a career as an account manager. Discover the required education, skills, and different positions.

What does an account manager do?

As an account manager, you'll be the liaison between your employer and customer or client. It's your duty to form profitable relationships with customers by addressing their needs, responding to their concerns, and answering their questions. You also may spend time networking and training customers who need to learn how to use the products you sell them. 

Read more: What Does a Customer Success Manager Do? Your Guide

Daily tasks and responsibilities

The specific duties of an account manager vary depending on your industry and customers' needs. Your day-to-day account manager duties might include the following tasks.

  • Developing an intimate knowledge of the products or services your company offers

  • Maintaining customer records and contract changes or renewals 

  • Staying on top of industry trends that could impact your company or your clients

  • Meeting sales and business goals

  • Fielding calls from new or existing customers/clients

  • Making visits to new or existing customers/clients

  • Attending meetings and delivering reports regarding a customer's/client's progress

  • Working with sales staff to create new business opportunities and marketing plans

Work environment

Account managers work in almost every industry for large or small companies. Your daily work environment may be in the company office or remote. Account managers may travel to attend meetings or conferences where you may spend time working in customer or client offices.

What tools do account managers use?

To perform work duties efficiently and ensure customer satisfaction, account managers use various tools like software and spreadsheets. These tools help companies keep current customers, bring in new ones, and boost sales. Examples of account manager tools include:

  • Customer relationship management software: The CRM is essential software that allows you to store contact information, monitor customer communications, share information between departments, and more.

  • Spreadsheet software: You can use this to track sales data and determine the value of each account you manage. If you don't have a CRM, you may use a spreadsheet to track customer and manage customer contact.

  • Email automation: Automation tools can help reduce your time on routine tasks and frees you up to direct your attention to the customer and maintain regular contact with them.

  • Performance analytics software: This program helps you measure and track performance measures like customer satisfaction, communication reply time, and new customer rates. 

Account manager salary and job outlook

On average, you can expect a base salary of $53,738 per year as an account manager in the US [1]. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment for advertising, promotions, and marketing managers to grow by 10 percent between 2021 and 2031 [2]. This translates to about 31,100 jobs, about average compared to other occupations. 

Types of account manager jobs

Account managers work in various industries and companies, large and small. Although you can find work in many fields, some more common ones include advertising, financial services, and manufacturing. However, banks, insurance companies, and technology companies also hire account managers. 

Some titles you may have to include regional account manager, enterprise account manager, and national account manager.

How to become an account manager

To become an account manager, you have to meet educational and work experience requirements, like earning a degree and working in entry-level positions. You also may need to pursue additional training, depending on your industry and company.

Meet educational requirements.

Account managers typically have at least a bachelor's degree, often in business or advertising. The courses they take include fundamental business topics like budgets and management strategies. Some account managers earn a degree in marketing, which can serve as a foundation for a career in sales. Coursework in understanding consumer behavior and how to promote people and ideas can be useful in the field. Public relations and communications also work well as a starting point in this career.

Gain experience.

Paid and unpaid work experience help prepare you for a career as an account manager. Your school may offer an internship that lets you get on-the-job training and network with professionals. Entry-level jobs for account managers include sales, customer service, and marketing positions. Positions that let you interact directly with customers can create opportunities for learning how to build relationships. You also may consider positions as an account manager.

Read more: How to Get a Job with No Experience: A Job Seeker’s Guide

Pursue a master’s degree. 

If you want to advance your career beyond an account manager position, you may consider getting a master's degree which typically takes two years to complete after your undergraduate degree. A master's in business, marketing, or public relations can help you learn more complex information and skills like relationship management, managerial economics, and strategic thinking. Sometimes, employers accept a master's degree instead of work experience. 

Consider certification.

Another way to advance in your career is through professional certifications. One example is the Certified Strategic Account Manager (CSAM) certificate, which takes 12 to 18 months to complete. To enroll in this program, you must currently have a position as a key account manager, strategic account manager, national account manager, or global account manager with at least one active account and receive sponsorship from a corporate leader.

Skills for account managers

As an account manager, you will likely rely on a variety of special skills, such as communication and computer skills. Developing these skills can help ensure success on the job. The lists below feature some of the common skills account managers have.

Account manager technical skills

Technical skills help you perform specific tasks on the job. Examples of technical skills that benefit account managers include:

  • Computer skills

  • CRM software

  • Recordkeeping

  • Spreadsheet skills

Account manager workplace skills

Workplace skills are interpersonal skills that help you interact with customers and fellow employees. Examples of workplace skills that benefit account managers include:

  • Adaptability

  • Collaboration

  • Communicating, both verbal and in writing

  • Customer service

  • Leadership

  • Negotiation

  • Organization

  • Self-starter

  • Time management

Account manager career advancement

No matter what career you pursue, it's always a good idea to know what career advancement might look like in the future. Here are some possibilities for career advancement centered on account management. You can see what to expect after earning your degree at the entry-level, mid-level, and upper levels. 

*All base salary data sourced from Glassdoor as of November 2022.

Entry-level positions

Entry-level positions allow you to gain experience working for a specific company or industry. The knowledge and skills you develop in these roles can help you advance. These positions and their annual base salary in the US include:

You can build your understanding of the products and services sold and learn how to handle clients and manage accounts.  

Read more: 6 Entry-Level Sales Jobs + How to Get One

Mid-level positions

Once you gain some experience in an entry-level position, you may be ready to move up to an account management position. These positions also can help you qualify for professional certification programs. Positions and US salaries at this level include:

  • Key account managers: $66,302

  • Senior account managers: $74,475

In these roles, you typically support the company's most important client accounts. 

Upper-level positions

Upper-level account manager positions include supervisory roles. You typically need at least five years of experience to land these jobs. Titles and US salaries include:

  • Principal account manager: $91,507

  • Associate director of accounts: $92,842

  • Director of accounts: $125,880

In these positions, you may oversee some or all the account managers at your company. 

Getting started

It takes a special person to be an account manager. People in this position benefit from being ambitious, motivated, energetic, and comfortable around others. If this sounds like you, a career as an account manager might be a great fit. To see if you'll enjoy this type of work, consider enrolling in The Art of Sales: Mastering the Selling Process Specialization offered by Northwestern University or HubSpot Sales Representative Professional Certificate on Coursera. You'll learn how to stand apart from other salespeople, attract customers or clients, and close deals. 

Article sources


Glassdoor. "Account Manager Salaries,,15.htm."Accessed November 23, 2022. 

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