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What Are the Duties of a Department Head?

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Using leadership and management expertise, department heads guide and motivate workers within a department. They may coordinate work activities and hire new workers, among other duties. Working with other managers and executives, they determine the annual fiscal goals of the department and ensure departmental success. These workers are needed in nearly every industry and typically must possess an advanced education and work experience.

Big-Picture Job Duties

As a department head, you might oversee and establish policies and procedures, as well as coordinate the work within your department. You might also launch departmental goals and ensure that all workers are working to meet these goals. For example, within a retail establishment, a department head must ensure that workers in a particular area are meeting sales goals; they also must implement strategies to improve overall revenue within the department. However, a department head within an educational institution may also monitor curriculum development and evaluate teaching professionals to ensure that students are receiving the best possible learning experience.

Daily Tasks

On a day-to-day basis, a department head would likely guide and evaluate worker performance, create work schedules, arrange departmental meetings and assign specific duties. You might meet with upper management or top executives to discuss financial statements and departmental concerns, as well as implement strategies to improve performance within the department. These workers typically hire and train new employees, as well as dismiss workers who aren’t meeting departmental expectations. Working with executives or other managers, department heads often establish fiscal objectives and forecast the future requirements of the department.

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Administrative Experts

The ability to successfully lead workers and the organizational skills to direct operations are a must for department heads. In this position, you must have demonstrated problem-solving ability and extensive time-management expertise. The ability to clearly and persuasively communicate with customers, workers, managers and executives is also necessary. Department heads need strong decision-making abilities and the aptitude to successfully lead a department. Depending on your employer, knowledge of curriculum development, sales, marketing or production may also be required.

Required Education and Training

The level of education and training you need to secure a department head position will vary, depending on your specific field. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that managers typically need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in business or business administration. However, department heads in large corporations may require a Master of Business Administration, while those working in the education sector may need a doctoral degree to oversee an educational department. Equally important as education is experience, and some business department heads with extensive experience might not have higher education. For example, some department heads may have been promoted through the ranks and have extensive experience rather than higher education. This could range from two to 10 or more years of managerial experience under your belt. Voluntary or mandatory licensure or certification is also common. For example, a department head within an educational institution may need to be licensed as an educational administrator or principal.

2016 Salary Information for Top Executives

Top executives earned a median annual salary of $109,140 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, top executives earned a 25th percentile salary of $70,800, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $165,620, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,572,000 people were employed in the U.S. as top executives.

About the Author

Michigan-based Jennifer Betts has been writing and editing education and career articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared on several educational training websites and blogs. She graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with a Bachelor of Arts in graphic design and a minor in English. Betts’ first writing job was working as a ghostwriter creating list articles for blogs.

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