A guide to managerial positions vs non-managerial positions

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 4 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Whether you're working in a management role or looking for a new job, it's important to understand the difference between managerial positions and non-managerial positions. Almost all organisations employ both managerial and non-managerial staff, and both types of staff members play an important role in the function of a business. Knowing more about the difference between managerial and non-managerial roles can help you guide your career in a direction that suits you. In this article, we explore what managerial and non-managerial roles are and explore the differences between the two.

Managerial positions vs non-managerial positions

When you're considering the similarities and differences between managerial positions vs non-managerial positions, it's important to consider the purpose, function and responsibilities of roles in each group. As you progress in your career, you may have many opportunities to choose the direction in which you develop by undergoing training and taking on new responsibilities at work. Whether you want to follow a managerial or non-managerial path depends on both your professional interests and passions and your skills and strengths.

Before comparing the key differences between these two types of positions, it's helpful to review the definition of each one:

What is a managerial position?

A managerial position is any position that involves management duties that require you to oversee or manage other members of staff. A manager might also oversee a particular project or function within a company, which also usually involves managing staff members. For example, a team leader role involves managing the rest of your team, while a project manager role involves managing a project and, usually, the project team working on it. When you work in a management position, your responsibilities might include a combination of managerial tasks and operational tasks. Some examples of managerial tasks include:

  • creating employee schedules

  • chairing meetings between staff

  • assessing employee performance

  • tracking project progress

If you want to work in a managerial role, most employers expect that you have some experience in a management capacity. This could mean taking on some supervisory responsibilities in your last job or helping your manager draw up staff schedules and rotas. If you want to move into management, it's important to take every opportunity you can to gain management experience in your existing role by asking for extra responsibilities and helping your manager where possible.

Related: 10 great jobs in project management and their salaries

What is a non-managerial position?

A non-managerial position is a position that's essential to the company's mission but doesn't involve any managerial duties. Non-managerial professionals can still be highly skilled and sought-after, but their role usually involves less decision-making, accountability and responsibility. There are many different types of non-managerial roles at all levels of a profession from entry-level positions up. In some non-managerial roles, opportunities to transfer into managerial positions open up as you become more experienced and senior within your department. For example, an experienced software developer may gain some managerial responsibilities if they become a lead software developer.

If you work in a non-managerial role, you usually have a manager working above you. They may have qualifications in your specific area, as in the example of a lead software developer, or they may be a more general manager with qualifications in business or project management. As a non-managerial professional, you may have a lot of freedom within your role, but your manager still holds you accountable. You may have to undergo regular performance reviews and report to your manager about the progress of projects on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

Key differences between managerial and non-managerial positions

If you're considering whether a career in management or non-management is for you, it's important to understand how a managerial position differs from a non-managerial one. Different roles have different levels of responsibility, and as you earn more seniority as a manager, your role likely has fewer operational responsibilities and more managerial responsibilities. The differences between managerial and non-managerial positions affect the tasks you complete at work, the salary you earn and your professional relationships with colleagues. Below are six of the most significant differences between managerial positions and non-managerial positions in most industries:

Qualifications

There are differences between the qualifications required by positions at managerial and non-managerial levels. While both managerial and non-managerial professionals may be highly qualified, only managers require skills specific to management. Degree qualifications and diplomas in business and management, such as an MBA, are particularly relevant for professionals hoping to embark upon a career in management. As you gain more experience in your sector, you can undergo training on the job to gain qualifications for management positions.

Professionals in creative fields, like design and journalism, usually have undergraduate degrees and perhaps even postgraduate degrees in their chosen field. To become a senior-level employee or transition into a management role, these professionals might require further qualifications in management, such as those offered by training courses at work. Alternatively, professionals who enter management roles straight out of university, like account managers, usually study management and related subjects for their undergraduate degrees.

Related: Management skills: definitions and examples

Responsibilities

There is usually a significant difference between the responsibilities held by a manager and a non-manager. Managers usually hold a combination of operational responsibilities, which are non-managerial and managerial responsibilities, whereas non-managers usually only hold operational responsibilities. Non-managerial professionals often complete the majority of the operational work in a company under guidance from managers and supervisors. For example, in a company that hires cleaners and a cleaning manager, the cleaners perform most of the actual cleaning, while the cleaning manager is responsible for ensuring that the team completes the cleaning tasks effectively.

As you gain seniority as a manager, you may find your responsibilities diverging further from your original non-managerial role. Many organisations use multi-level management structures that split managers into lower-level, mid-level and top-level management. At the lower level, your job likely involves more operational tasks and fewer management responsibilities, while at the top level of management your work is almost solely management duties with little operational work daily.

Salary

In general, the salaries for managerial positions are higher than the salaries for non-managerial positions. This is because of the additional responsibility and accountability that managers have at work. If a project goes wrong or the task team misses a deadline, the project or team manager is usually the person held responsible for this failure. Usually, the salary of a manager rises as their seniority increases, with top-level or senior managers commanding higher salaries than low-level managers.

In a non-managerial position, you can still earn a higher salary by gaining more experience and developing your skills. Even in non-managerial positions, highly skilled professionals earn high figures because they have skills that most people don't have and bring value to a company. In most organisations, the most well-paying positions are those like CEO, COO and CFO, all of which are managerial roles at the very top of an organisation's hierarchy.

Oversight

If you work in a non-managerial position, you usually only have oversight over your own work and responsibilities. For example, a software developer is responsible for writing code, identifying and fixing bugs and other tasks in their job description. In a managerial position, you oversee your own responsibilities and those of your team as well. The lead software developer is responsible for writing their own elements of code and ensuring that the code their team produces is clean, efficient and free of bugs. This means managerial roles usually have wider oversight than non-managerial roles.

Accountability

There is also a difference between accountability between managerial and non-managerial roles. Non-managerial employees are usually only accountable for their own work, just as they only oversee their own work. Because managers oversee the work of their team, they're also accountable for the work that their team completes. Managers complete a lot of activities meant to maintain high-performance levels, such as awarding pay rises, conducting staff appraisals and raising disciplinary issues. This is because, if a team underperforms, the manager is usually responsible for this drop in performance level.

Related: Definition and examples of accountability in the workplace

Decision-making

Managers and non-managerial staff aid decision-making in an organisation in different ways. Non-managerial staff typically have limited decision-making powers restricted largely to their own work. As a non-managerial professional, you may be able to offer your input or opinion on wider project matters, but important project-wide decisions are usually the responsibility of the manager. It's more important that managerial staff can make fast, sound decisions about important issues because their decisions can have a significant impact on the success of a project and an organisation's profits.

Related:

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  • Managerial leadership style: definition and principles

  • Managerial roles: definition, categories and skills

  • Managerial requirements: qualifications and career tips

  • 13 types of managerial tools (plus descriptions and uses)







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