How Do I Become a Category Manager?

Meghan Perry
Meghan Perry
Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

A variety of skills and often a college degree are needed to become a category manager. This job combines some of the duties of jobs in several fields, including marketing, advertising, and business. This allows for a variety of options if and when potential category managers decide to earn college degrees. It can also provide ideas of the type of work experience one could gain in order to improve the chances of becoming a category manager because work experience is often also a requirement. There are also certification and continuing education opportunities in this field.

A category manager is generally responsible for items in a specific category, known as a business unit. The goal is to maximize the profitability of the business unit, and to do that, creating a strategy for marketing the unit is usually part of the job. Interpreting market data is often part of creating a marketing strategy. Category managers also set sales goals and work with suppliers.

As this job often requires working with a variety of people, including consumers, manufacturers, and suppliers, written and verbal communication skills are important in order to become a category manager. Along those lines, negotiation skills are also important, especially when working with suppliers. Flexibility is another quality someone should have to become a category manager. In addition, math and research skills and subject knowledge are also important to this position.

A college degree may not be required for this position, but it may give someone who wants to become a category manager an advantage when pursuing a job as many employers prefer that their employees be college educated. A business degree is the most common degree people in this field earn, but a degree in marketing or advertising would also be useful because skills in these fields are often used in this job. In fact, category managers are sometimes referred to as marketing managers. Work experience in any of these areas is also desirable by employers, so it will give someone who wants to become a category manager an advantage.

The Category Management Association is a professional association for category managers. Earning certification as a Certified Professional Category Manager (CPCM) may give someone who wishes to become a category manager a professional edge when it comes to getting a job. There are also continuing education programs that may be useful for people in this field. These programs range from workshops to conferences and seminars.

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