What Is Middle Management?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn about what middle managers do, the skills and requirements needed for management positions, and what job possibilities look like for mid-level management.

[Featured image] An employee approaches a member of middle management with a question about some information on her tablet.

Employees in middle management help keep businesses running smoothly. They're situated between senior management and the bottom of a company's organizational structure. Mid-level managers answer to top company leaders, such as chief executive officers (CEOs), chief financial officers (CFOs), and chief information officers (CIOs), and oversee first-line managers like direct supervisors. 

To learn more about middle management roles, read this guide. Discover the tasks and responsibilities of mid-level managers, find out what skills they need, and explore some common middle management roles. 

What does middle management do?

To better understand the role of a mid-level manager, explore some of their daily tasks and responsibilities. Mid-level managers may have some or all of these job duties:

  • Supervise, train, and evaluate first-line supervisors

  • Act as an intermediary between first-line supervisors and top management 

  • Develop and maintain company budgets

  • Implement company policies and procedures

  • Oversee company projects

  • Collaborate with top management to set company goals and monitor progress

  • Develop strategies to boost employee productivity, performance, and morale

  • Create and monitor professional development plans for employees

Read more: What Is Management? Definition, Types, Skills, and Careers

Required skills for effective middle management

Certain skills may help you succeed in a middle management position. These skills include workplace skills, which can help you interact with other people on the job, and technical skills, which can help you carry out your duties as a middle manager.

Workplace skills

Examples of workplace skills that benefit mid-level managers include:

Technical skills

Examples of technical skills that benefit mid-level managers include:

  • Experience with basic office and industry-related software

  • Experience in project management

  • Familiarity with information technology (IT) fundamentals

  • Good technical writing skills

  • Knowledge of performance management

  • Familiarity with data collection, management, and analytics

  • Proficiency in employee hiring and evaluation

Read more: 9 Key Management Skills: How to Show Them on Your Resume

Pros and cons of middle management

Middle-management employees can contribute to an organization's success in many ways. Good mid-level managers help turn company goals into action plans and implement them. They use encouragement and incentives to keep employees engaged, which can boost performance and productivity. At the same time, they also create policies and procedures to hold employees accountable for mistakes or poor performance when needed. 

On the other hand, mid-level managers can also face some challenges, this might include:

  • Dealing with stressful situations and high pressure from top management

  • Managing conflicts between employees or departments

  • Making hard decisions that lower-level employees may not support 

  • Anxiety or stress that comes from having a dual subordinate-manager role

  • Burnout due to poor work structures or heavy workload 

Salaries for mid-level managers

According to Glassdoor, the estimated total pay for mid-level managers in the US is $94,454 per year [1]. This figure includes an average base salary of $80,107 and $14,347 in additional pay. Additional pay may represent profit-sharing, commissions, or bonuses.

Read more: What Is a Good Salary?

4 middle management roles

As a mid-level manager, you can work in a variety of industries. Explore just a few different examples of middle management roles and their salaries.

1. Head of communications

Average annual base salary (US): $110,758 [2]

Requirements: A bachelor's degree in communications or a related field like public relations or business, a master's degree in communications or public relations, and several years of work experience

A head of communications oversees all activities that help an organization project and maintain a positive image. Internal and external messaging to accomplish these goals can include emails, press releases, social media posts, and more.

Skills to have:

  • Communication

  • Collaboration

  • Critical thinking

  • Time management

  • Social media knowledge

  • Computer skills

2. Human resources director

Average annual base salary (US): $114,719 [3]

Requirements: A bachelor's degree in human resource management, a master's degree in human resource management, or a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

A human resources director oversees all organizational activity related to employees. Examples include employee compensation and benefits, employee evaluation, recruitment, training, and development.

Skills to have:

  • Knowledge of labor laws

  • Written and verbal communication

  • Able to make decisions

  • Problem-solving

  • Leadership

3. Bank branch manager

Average annual base salary (US): $71,164 [4]

Requirements: Typically, a bachelor's degree in business management, finance, or accounting, and several years of experience in banking.

A bank branch manager oversees the bank's operations and supervises all department managers. Some departments within a bank include consumer banking, commercial banking, marketing and sales, human resources, and information technology (IT).

Skills to have:

  • Knowledge of accounting and finance

  • Verbal and written communication

  • Familiarity with banking software

  • Leadership

  • Problem-solving

4. Sales director

Average annual base salary (US): $127,116 [5]

Requirements: Some positions require a bachelor's degree in business administration, marketing, or a related field like communications, several years of experience in sales and sales management, and an MBA. 

A sales director oversees a company's sales department, develops and implements sales strategies, and researches competitors. They'll often work closely with the executive team to help increase a company's profit using different sales strategies.

Skills to have:

  • Knowledge of the sales process

  • Familiarity with products and/or services sold

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software

  • Leadership

  • Delegation

  • Customer service skills

Read more: What Is Sales Management: Definition, Scope, Objectives, Careers

Job outlook for middle management 

To understand the current job outlook for mid-level managers, consider the projected growth for all management positions. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that management positions of all types will grow faster than average during the decade from 2022 to 2032, with a little over 1 million jobs projected each year [6]. 

Next steps on Coursera

To learn how to become an effective middle manager, consider taking the Strategic Leadership and Management Specialization course offered by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on Coursera. This seven-course series for beginners covers various important topics, including leadership, team-building, strategic management, and business strategy. You can learn at your own pace and receive a Professional Certificate upon completion.

Article sources


Glassdoor. "Mid-level Manager Salaries, https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/mid-level-manager-salary-SRCH_KO0,17.htm." Accessed April 11, 2024.

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