Goodbye, Middle Manager

The study finds job titles like "manager" and "director" are phasing out.

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What's middle management? A new study from the job-matching service TheLadders suggests that's a question job seekers may soon be asking. The study shows that once-ubiquitous middle-management jobs – with titles like "manager" and "director" – are being replaced by skill-specific positions in the technology sector.

The study analyzed keywords and phrases job seekers use to search for jobs – along with employers' word choices for job postings – from TheLadders' more than 6 million members and 60,000 employers. More than 600 job titles were analyzed between 2008 and 2013. The findings reveal that the growth rate of titles containing the word "manager" is 25 percent lower than the national average, and the growth rate of titles containing the word "director" is 50 percent lower. What's more, within the top 10 percent of growing jobs, less than 2 percent of titles contain the word "manager" or "director."

"Gone are the days when pursuing a management track equates to professional advancement," says Amanda Augustine, TheLadders' job search expert. "Today, professionals can reach the same financial rewards as middle management by building technical expertise."

If tech is the new middle management, what are the new hot jobs? Some of them didn't even exist on job sites like TheLadders a decade ago, including the top three fastest-growing job titles in the study:

1. Dev Ops Engineer

2. iOS Developer

3. Data Scientist

Jobs like these require different skill sets than management, including specific educational qualifications and expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM.

Also in the top 10 titles include the No. 4 job, UX Designer; the No. 7 job, UI Developer; the No. 9 job, Android Developer and the No. 10 job title, Business Intelligence Developer. Three of those tech titles contain the keyword "developer." According to TheLadders' study, in the past year each of these job titles was posted at least 15 times more often than they were five years ago. Different types of analyst jobs (such as Web Analyst and Financial Analyst) also saw significant growth. In the analytics field, Data Scientist is the fastest-growing title.

If you're not into tech, don't despair. There is still a growing need for skill-driven roles focused on production in many organizations. A few more familiar-sounding titles that also made the top 10 include Staff Accountant (No. 5), Paralegal (No. 6) and Administrative Assistant (No. 8).

What does the shift away from once-coveted management jobs mean for today's job seekers? According to Shankar Mishra, vice-president of data science and analytics at TheLadders, people no longer need to go to the management track to further their career growth. "Financially speaking, you can reach the same level as middle management by pursuing technical skills," Mishra says, adding that there is a healthy need for tech skills even within management jobs. "Job seekers should focus on enhancing development skills to enhance their applicability to the current environment."

The study also finds certain tech-driven locations will particularly benefit from the new job evolution, such as New York City, the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington D.C. and the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

Robin Madell has spent over two decades as a corporate writer, business journalist, literary agent, and author on business, leadership, career, health, finance, technology, and public-interest issues. She serves as a speechwriter, ghostwriter, and communications consultant for executives and entrepreneurs across diverse industries. Robin has interviewed more than 200 thought leaders around the globe, and has won 20 awards for editorial excellence. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association in both New York and San Francisco, and contributed to the book Be Your Own Mentor: Strategies from Top Women on the Secrets of Success, published by Random House. Robin is also the author of Surviving Your Thirties: Americans Talk About Life After 30 and co-author of The Strong Principles: Career Success. You can reach her at robin.madell@gmail.com.