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What is Organizational Leadership?

Organizational leadership is a business subfield, making it a relatively popular major among secondary education students in the United States. Prospective students interested in pursuing high-paying management careers in various industries are likely to find these programs particularly appealing. Notably, the knowledge and skills obtained from degrees of this type are generally applicable to most company and organization settings. This makes graduates highly versatile and prepared for work in many different industries.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for management occupations is projected to grow 8% from 2021 to 2031. This is faster than the average for all professions and will result in an increase of about 883,900 new jobs over the decade. When including the need to replace workers who retire or change career fields, there will be approximately 1.1 million management openings each year.

Organizational leadership professionals work in various capacities to help companies and organizations operate more successfully. While daily responsibilities can differ, most are expected to keep the big picture in mind. They often must assess how even the smallest decisions will impact departments and individual employees. These professionals are also frequently instrumental in ensuring that overall business goals are met, often by verifying that tasks are completed correctly and in a timely manner. Additionally, organizational leaders may be expected to promote more productive working environments, often by making other staff members feel integrated with and supported by their employers.

It's important to realize, however, that daily tasks and responsibilities will depend largely upon the specific occupation sought. Degrees of this type can lead to a wide variety of employment opportunities. The knowledge and skills gained can be applied to almost any professional setting, with businesses and organizations around actively seeking to hire talented leaders. Those with management experience, in particular, are likely to have great success finding jobs with non-profits, large corporations, small businesses, and the government.

The most successful organizational leaders typically possess strong communication, problem-solving, and management skills. Prospective professionals will also benefit from extensive knowledge in business, as well as creativity and strategic thinking. Work settings will vary depending on the type of position obtained and the industry selected, however.

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Online Leadership Education in California

Graduates with organizational leadership degrees may also seek employment in many business and finance professions. Growth for these occupations is comparable, with an expected 7% increase from 2021 to 2031. This will result in another 980,200 applicable job openings each year.

Those interested in management, business, and finance occupations must realize, however, that prospects vary by the profession sought. Benefits and industrial production managers, for example, have a projected growth of only 2-3% with just 20,000 job openings estimated each year. Computer and information systems managers, on the other hand, are expected to see a 16% increase in employment, which is much faster than average. Medical and health services managers will fair even better, with a projected 28% growth rate over the next decade.

Professional and business services is the second largest industry in California, accounting for $397.3 billion in revenue each year. As a result, organizational leadership professionals are likely to find employment opportunities in the state. Additionally, these individuals may qualify to work in many of California’s other top sectors as well. Most companies and organizations give preference to candidates with strong leadership skills, so graduates can also have success applying for positions in manufacturing, real estate, education services, healthcare, retail, finance, wholesale, construction, entertainment, and utilities.

Based on data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1,199,620 management professionals were employed in California as of May 2021. The annual mean wage for these jobs was $141,440, which is significantly above the state’s annual mean wage of $68,510 for all occupations. California also employed 1,131,460 business and financial operations professionals with an annual mean wage of $90,090.

Many colleges and universities offer degrees in organizational leadership, but those who intend to find work in California may want to give preference to institutions within the state. While online learning is becoming more prominent and can be convenient for students with daytime scheduling conflicts, local schools offer the most geographically relevant education experiences. These colleges and universities understand employer standards and expectations in the area and adapt their curriculums to ensure graduates are ready to compete for work in California. Many institutions also have established relationships with nearby companies and organizations, which can make it easier to obtain internships and paid employment opportunities.

Most organizational leadership professionals in California complete some amount of higher education. As many colleges and universities in the state offer relevant degree programs, prospective students can choose to study at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. While opportunities will vary, those with the most education can typically expect to have access to the best jobs in the field.

While most management, business, and financial occupations require candidates to possess bachelor’s degrees, supervisory roles are generally reserved for those who complete advanced academic programs. Masters and doctoral degrees often lead to positions with more responsibilities and higher pay.

Online Associate Degree in Leadership (AS)

Associate degrees in organizational leadership generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Curriculums typically incorporate both general liberal arts education and major-specific classes. In addition to taking core communications, mathematics, and social science courses, students are likely to receive instruction in human resource management, employment law, organizational development, and business communications.

This type of degree is often used to prepare students for further learning. Those enrolled will gain basic familiarity with key concepts, but do not receive any in-depth exploration of the field. As a result, associate degrees are most appropriate for those who plan to seek entry-level employment related to organizational leadership. While opportunities may be limited, benefits include spending less time and money pursuing secondary education prior to applying for employment. Graduates generally qualify for jobs as account managers, community relations managers, training directors, diversity specialists, or executive assistants.

As graduates tend to possess a strong academic foundation for further learning, it’s common for those with associate degrees in organizational leadership to continue their education by enrolling in bachelor’s degree programs. In many cases, it may be possible to transfer the credits already earned and have them applied towards new degrees. As a result, only two additional years of education may be necessary in order to obtain a higher-level degree.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Leadership (BS)

Bachelors in organizational leadership often consist of 120 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately four years to complete. Curriculums at this level typically consist of general liberal arts education, as well as major-specific classes. In addition to the required core curriculum of basic communication, mathematics, and sociology, students can expect to receive instruction in organizational development, communication strategies for leaders, assessment in organizations, social conflict, and negotiation.

Many colleges and universities also require those enrolled to complete related capstones, practicums, and/or internships with nearby businesses and organizations. Additionally, students may be allowed to narrow their scope of study by selecting specializations in the field.

Some of the most common concentrations regularly available include the following.

  • Human Resource Management
  • Finance
  • Project Management
  • Marketing
  • Operations Management and Supervision
  • International Business

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, most management, business, and financial occupations require candidates possess bachelor’s degrees. Graduates often qualify for a wide variety of jobs across numerous industries. Some common opportunities include training and development managers, management analysts, sales managers, human resource managers, and industrial production managers.

Alternatively, organizational leadership graduates can choose to pursue further education by enrolling in master’s degree programs. Prospective graduate students should be prepared to meet minimum grade point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) score requirements set by gaining institutions.

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Online Master's Degree in Leadership (MS or MC)

Master’s degrees in organizational leadership generally range from 30 to 36 credit hours of coursework that take full-time students approximately two to three years to complete. Students at this level no longer take general education classes, instead focusing their time and efforts on subjects related directly to the field. Curriculums vary, but most incorporate leadership theory, organizational behavior, human resource management, and marketing. Other common classes include organizational sustainability, digital media and marketing, and diversity and conflict in the workplace.

Many colleges and universities also encourage those enrolled to participate in internships with one or more nearby businesses and organizations.

Additionally, students are often able to select concentrations in related subfields, such as:

  • Global Business
  • Human Resources Management
  • Healthcare Management
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Leadership Coaching
  • Social Entrepreneurship

This type of leadership master's degree is ideal for those who plan to seek leadership and management positions in both the public and private sectors. Employment opportunities will vary, but graduates commonly find work as business executives, management consultants, school principals, human resources managers, training and development managers, and administrative services managers. While not always necessary for success, those who earn graduate degrees are typically more professionally competitive and tend to make more money. They may also find it easier to meet minimum requirements when seeking various professional certifications relevant to the field.

Online PhD Degree in Leadership (PhD)

A PhD or doctorate in organizational leadership generally consists of between 60 and 120 credit hours that take full-time students four to seven years to complete. These programs tend to be much more intensive than those below this level. While curriculums vary, students can typically expect to receive instruction in subjects such as organizational design, education law and finance, strategic management of non-profit organizations, collaborative leadership and partnership, and leadership theory and practice. It’s also common for those enrolled to pursue independent study and research that culminates in the defense of a written dissertation prior to graduation.

Those interested in pursuing high-level, specialized career opportunities related to leadership and other business roles will find these degrees particularly useful. Doctoral degrees often result in more prestigious employment opportunities and higher pay. Graduates typically qualify to pursue advanced careers as training and development managers, postsecondary teachers, top executives, organizational development consultants, and organizational developmental directors.

Become a Leadership Professional in California

As there are many different types of organizational leaders, obtaining one or more degrees and certifications in the field can lead to a wide variety of employment opportunities. With so many professional options available, it’s important to determine your ultimate career goals as early as possible. Once you have identified your intended profession, it becomes easier to research associated education, training, and experience requirements to insure you meet minimum employer expectations. Becoming familiar with occupational standards is particularly helpful when selecting an applicable organizational leadership degree program.

Aside from meeting the necessary education standards for your profession of choice, there are no specific requirements that must be met in order to become an organizational leader in California. You may, however, benefit from obtaining at least one professional certification relevant to the field. While these are rarely required by employers, they can set you apart from other professionals. Credentials related to business and management often demonstrate superior competence in specific areas of the field, which can be particularly appealing to prospective employers and clients.

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While there are a wide variety of relevant credentials available, many organizational leadership professionals seek to become certified business managers (CBMs). This certification demonstrates elite operational management skills that are highly valued in most employment settings. Notably, CBM programs are offered by numerous accredited academic institutions. In fact, it’s fairly common for colleges and universities to incorporate the credential into their MBA programs.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) offers another potentially valuable credential for organizational leaders. Becoming a Project Management Professional (PMP) proves to employers that you possess the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully manage projects. This certification can lead to more employment opportunities and higher pay.

Additionally, organizational leadership graduates can benefit from becoming members of relevant professional organizations and associations. Membership in one of these groups can entitle you to many benefits, such as professional development discounts, access to related academic journals, and invitations to networking events. Some also offer reduced membership rates for recent graduates.

Three prominent options available to those in this field include:

  • Institute of Management Consultants (IMC)
  • Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
  • National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP)

Careers for Leadership Graduates

  • Administrative Services Manager
    Administrative services managers work to improve overall efficiency by coordinating office personnel and services. They are often responsible for overseeing various administrative aspects of the office, including supervising staff members. These professionals may also be tasked with distributing mail, maintaining office machines, keeping records, conducting office supply inventories, ordering needed items, scheduling interviews, and more. According to PayScale, administrative services managers make an average base salary of $63,650 per year.
  • Business Consultant
    Business consultants help companies and organizations solve various problems by teaching existing employees about various techniques and software to enhance productivity. These professionals can be brought in at any time, but are frequently hired during the start-up process to provide organization plans for improved efficiency. They may also work to improve specific parts of a company that is struggling. According to PayScale, business consultants make an average base salary of $77,600 per year.
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
    Chief executive officers (CEOs) typically oversee entire organizations and may be responsible for making most business-related decisions. They frequently supervise the performance of other high-ranking company employees by providing leadership, guidance, and management. These professionals also formulate strategic plans and ensure they are followed by all staff members. According to PayScale, chief executive officers make an average base salary of $156,350 per year.
  • Community Organizer
    Community organizers work within established groups to organize and manage members in order to achieve various outcomes. These professionals are typically responsible for creating and promoting targeted public awareness campaigns. They may also reach out to leaders in order to generate support systems and increase access to resources. Additional potential assignments can include recruiting, screening, and training new members and/or giving dynamic presentations on pertinent topics. According to PayScale, community organizers make an average base salary of $54,350 per year.
  • Executive Director
    Executive directors design, develop, and implement strategic plans meant to increase cost and time efficiency for their respective businesses and organizations. Functioning as senior managers, these professionals may also oversee day-to-day activities. They are also often responsible for developing and executing future plans. According to PayScale, executive directors make an average base salary of $81,450 per year.
  • Information Systems (IS) Manager
    Information systems (IS) managers are responsible for overseeing information technology (IT) departments. This can entail hiring, reviewing, and firing non-management employees, as well as planning, directing, and coordinating various developmental opportunities. They are also often tasked with implementing and deploying the operation of various information systems and technical solutions. According to PayScale, information systems managers make an average base salary of $87,250 per year.
  • Training and Development Manager
    Training and development managers improve internal effectiveness and ability for the companies and organizations they work for. This often entails providing support to employees, as well as recommending various types of training and professional development opportunities. They may be responsible for leading and/or organizing workshops, as well as conducting one-on-one meetings. Depending on the setting, these professionals may also facilitate team-building exercises to make staff more comfortable with and trusting of each other. According to PayScale, training and develop managers make an average base salary of $79,050 per year.
  • Management Analyst
    Management analysts are responsible for conducting organizational studies and evaluations for companies and organizations. These professionals often design various systems and procedures, while also conducting work simplification and measurement studies. They are also frequently tasked with preparing manuals to increase efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, management analysts may teach other employees how to use new forms and/or procedures. According to PayScale, management analysts make an average base salary of $69,000 per year.
  • Business Careers

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