What Is The Difference Between An Associate Manager & Assistant Manager?

Today’s corporate world features a lot of related managerial positions that can be confusing if one does not know the difference. This is the case for an associate manager and an assistant manager. 

An associate manager usually represents the head of a team or someone who manages employees of a department within an establishment. The term “associate” indicates they are lower than the supervisor, assistant manager, and manager.

When a manager is not available, his or her responsibilities ideally fall to the assistant manager. This is why, sometimes, the duty of a manager and an assistant manager overlaps.

Moving forward in this article, I will be explaining what both positions mean to a corporation, their responsibilities, educational requirements, and the necessary soft skills they need. Details about salary expectations will also be shared.

What is an Associate Manager?

An associate manager is someone who leads a group of employees within a department. They are often referred to as team leaders and occupy lower-tier positions compared to managers, assistant managers, and higher executives like the CEO, COO, and CFO.

What is an Assistant Manager?

From the name “assistant” manager, it is safe to say this position is secondary to the manager of any office or company. In other words, an assistant manager has the autonomy to execute processes in the place of a manager whenever he or she is not around.

To be an assistant manager is to be very versed with most processes related to a department and be trusted by higher management. You don’t necessarily need extensive educational experience.

Differences Between Associate Manager and Assistant Manager

Now that it has been established that the major difference between both positions is autonomy, let’s see other ways an associate manager differs from an assistant manager:

1. Key responsibilities

The roles of an assistant manager and an associate manager usually vary depending on the organization. However, some peculiar responsibilities of an associate manager include:

  • Controlling inbound and outbound operations such as logistics or warehouse operations.
  • Managing and solving payroll issues.
  • Ensuring adherence to audit and department policy
  • Creating modifying resources for intern or new employees training
  • Supervising other associates

Assistant managers, on the other hand, are responsible for:

  • Scheduling and coordinating meetings
  • Executing employee performance review
  • Helping out in recruitment and dismal procedures
  • Mediate between managers, customers, and employees
  • Develop workplace strategies to improve efficiency and output 

2. Educational requirements

In terms of educational requirements, companies have various priorities depending on what they need and the department they are hiring for. 

For the position of associate manager, you must be a graduate of business administration or any related field with at least 2 years of managerial experience. 

For assistant managers positions, some companies have no issue employing candidates with only a high school diploma or its equivalent. All that matters most for this position is at least 1 to 3 years of experience in a similar field.

3. Work environment

The work environment of associate managers usually differs from that of assistant managers. This is because an assistant manager spends more time on the field than an associate manager.

For example, in a retail store, associate managers have to monitor inventories. This means they will be spending most of their hours in the stock room or behind the scene.

Assistant managers, on the other hand, are always outside (main office) monitoring the flow of daily operations and giving prompt feedback to managers. They can also take on customer inquiries on behalf of a busy manager.

4. Career path

For an assistant manager, if there are no setbacks, he or she can only move up to the position of manager, deputy general manager, and managing director.

An associate manager, on the other hand, may move from a store manager to a general manager and can end up becoming the director of food and beverages assuming he or she works for a food company.

5. Work hours

Associate managers tend to work more after business hours. Their shifts and schedules are often irregular. This is why they may not spend the same hours working as an assistant manager.

Assistant managers, mostly work during regular business hours. This is because their major role is to ensure that all team members are doing the right thing and are present when needed.

6. Salary

Managerial positions generally attract good pay especially if you are being promoted to them. One thing to note about the salary expectation of both positions is that it depends on the modus operandi of the company and most times, who take on more responsibilities.

However, associate managers tend to earn less than assistant managers. This is because assistant managers serve as the direct hand of managers (2nd in command). Nevertheless, they do not take on managerial duties not assigned to them.

For context, an associate manager should earn about $13.07 per hour which may sum up to about $26,657 or more annually. An assistant manager, on the other hand, should earn about $22 per hour which may sum up to an average of $44,870 annually.

Please note that these fees can be interchanged depending on the industry and the tasks assigned to each position. In industries where the role of an associate member supersedes that of a manager, he or she may earn more than an assistant manager.

Similarities between an Associate Manager and Assistant Manager

Both associate managers and assistant managers have a common ground in terms of soft skills. These skills may be called into action depending on the type of company or department.

Nevertheless, these are some of the necessary skills both managers should have:

  • Communication skills – to effectively communicate with employees, other team leaders, higher executives, and customers.
  • Interpersonal skills – with good interpersonal skills, associate managers and assistant managers can easily establish and maintain positive relationships with everyone within and outside their team.
  • Organization skills –  both managers must have good organization skills to keep track of tasks, projects, and their progress. 
  • Time management skills – associate and assistant managers must effectively manage time and also be suckers for deadlines.
  • Leadership skills – to effectively set goals, provide directions and motivate team members, the associate manager and assistant manager must be good leaders.
  • Attention to detail – both managers must be able to spot why things are not going according to plan and correct them. 


Is an associate manager higher than an assistant manager?

In terms of hierarchy, an associate manager has lesser power compared to an assistant manager.

Nevertheless, the position still requires leadership skills in the same way that an assistant manager does.

How long does it take to train an assistant manager?

Ideally, you need just a year of experience to be qualified for an assistant manager role. 

However, some companies prefer at least 3 years of experience with leadership and managerial qualities.

Is an associate manager the same as a supervisor?

No, an associate manager is not the same as a supervisor.

Associate managers are more involved in decision-making than supervisors whose major duty is to oversee the distribution and execution of tasks.


Assistant managers and associate managers both play a significant role in the smooth running of an organization’s day-to-day operations. While both positions require similar skills, assistant managers are ranked higher than associate managers.

The former operates mainstream and communicates directly with the manager while the latter mostly works behind the scene. Associate managers, depending on the industry may also be responsible for training new employees.

I hope you found this article helpful. For more information about the various tiers of managers, a company should have, please see the types of managers and their roles.

Thanks for reading.