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The 6 Best Courses for Managers

The best managers are the ones who realise the importance of learning.

That’s because learning new skills and developing old ones will allow your management practice to grow, providing a formidable skillset that will allow you to manage teams with ease and make yourself a real asset to employers.

No matter where you are in your management career, you’ll be able to study a qualification to give you the right skills and knowledge for the roles you’re chasing after.

With that in mind, here are 6 of the best courses for managers of all levels looking to improve their skills and knowledge.

Online or physical?

Before you decide which course you want to study, it’s a good idea to consider what type of study you’d like to invest in. There are usually three options for studying:


  • Self-guided online learning
  • Guided physical learning in a classroom
  • A ‘blended’ approach that combines the two


Before the pandemic, online learning and physical learning were roughly similar in terms of take up numbers, but online learning has naturally boomed as a result of lockdowns and people having more time on their hands.

Although the pandemic has catapulted online learning into the mainstream, it was already on the rise before mass lockdowns made it a necessity for schools and businesses around the world.

In 2017, a survey found that 77% of companies in the USA used some form of online learning. That’s not to say that physical learning is gone forever, but there’s no denying the fact that online learning has massively outpaced it in recent years.

Generally, the best courses are the ones that fit seamlessly around your life, and for a lot of people online courses do just that. There are a lot of impressive management qualifications that you can study online too – here’s our pick of them.

All of the courses below can be completed online, from the comfort of your own kitchen table/sofa/bed – anywhere you like!


ILM Level 2 Award in Leadership & Team Skills


Difficulty level: Complete beginner

Aimed at: Would-be supervisors looking to improve leadership skills

Good for: Getting a grounding in essential leadership skills

Average cost: Around £400

Time taken to complete: Around 3 months


Everyone has to start somewhere. For many people, a long and successful career in management begins by taking a small, short qualification that gives them a decent foundation of knowledge to build on. The ILM Level 2 Award does just that.

Designed to help you get to grips with the essential leadership skills that management calls for, you’ll study one mandatory unit, ‘Developing Yourself as a Team Leader’, and then choose either two units from this list:


  • Improving the Performance of the Work Team
  • Developing the Work Team
  • Working within Organisational and Legal Guidelines
  • Maintaining a Healthy and Safe Work Environment
  • Briefing the Work Team


Or one unit from this list:


  • Understanding Change in the Workplace
  • Planning and Monitoring Work
  • Business Improvement Techniques


ILM Level 2 Certificate in Leadership & Team Skills


Difficulty level: Beginner

Aimed at: Current or aspiring team leaders and supervisors

Good for: A broad understanding of basic management and team leadership skills

Average cost: Around £800

Time taken to complete: 8 to 12 months


If you’re just getting started in your management career, but you want a broader understanding of essential team management skills, the ILM Level 2 Certificate in Leadership & Team Skills will let you study a wider range of topics than the ILM Level 2 Award.

You’ll learn how to improve and develop the performance of your team, how to monitor and plan work, how to solve problems and how to make decisions – important areas of knowledge if you want a successful career in management.

It’s fairly affordable, costing around £800, and takes between 8 to 12 months to complete, making it good for people who want to broaden their understanding of the essential traits you’ll need for an entry-level managerial role.


ILM Level 3 Certificate Leadership & Management


Difficulty level: Entry-level

Aimed at: People who are in or looking to gain a first-line management role

Good for: Providing essential knowledge about broad parts of management and leadership

Average cost: Around £1,000

Time taken to complete: Around 12 months


This qualification is perfect if you’ve got some knowledge of aspects of management and leadership that you’re looking to put to use in your first management role. Giving you a broad, basic understanding of management and leadership, the knowledge you’ll gain from this course will set you up well for your first dedicated management role.

Costing around £1,000 (depending on which provider you choose) and taking around a year to complete, the Level 3 Certificate in Leadership & Management represents an investment of time and money but a sound one if you’re after a fulfilling career.

Desk With Work Items

CMI Level 5 Diploma in Management & Leadership


Difficulty level: Intermediate

Aimed at: Middle managers, those looking to become Chartered Managers

Good for: Honing your existing management and leadership skills

Average cost: Around £3,500

Time taken to complete: 12 to 15 months


The CMI Level 5 Diploma Management & Leadership is an excellent qualification to consider if you’re in a first-line management role and you want to climb up the career ladder, or if you’re a current middle manager.

The qualification will take you through important concepts such as project management, using data to inform decisions, and coaching your team to get the best out of them.

It will usually take around 12 months to 15 months to complete, but the time you invest in this qualification will be worth it: many employers look for CMI qualifications when it comes to recruitment, and this qualification will even allow you to become a Chartered Manager – a great asset to your CV and your career.


CMI Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Management & Leadership


Difficulty level: Advanced

Aimed at: Senior managers who have significant experience

Good for: Gaining strategic management and leadership skills

Average cost: Around £2,500

Time taken to complete: 8 to 12 months


The CMI Level 7 Diploma is the highest-level course that you’ll be able to take with the Chartered Management Institute. It’s perfect for managers and directors who want to play a more active role in strategy and organisational change in their company, whilst also honing their people management, data and leadership skills.

You’ll be able to select the subjects that you want to study, allowing you to build a qualification that really suits your career objectives and your unique professional interests. The modules you’ll be able to choose from include:


  • Strategic Leadership
  • Developing Organisational Strategy
  • Leading Strategic Change
  • Organisational Design and Development
  • Strategic Management of Data and Information
  • Personal and Professional Development for Strategic Leadership


One of the key draws of the CMI Level 7 Diploma is that once you’ve completed the course (and gained three plus years of management experience), you’ll be able to qualify for ‘Chartered Manager’ status – a prestigious management accolade that you can only gain from the CMI in the UK.


PRINCE2® Foundation & Practitioner Combined Project Management


Difficulty level: All levels

Aimed at: Anyone who is involved in project management

Good for: Enhancing your project management skills with a globally recognised framework

Average cost: Around £800

Time taken to complete: Around 44 hours


Being able to manage complex projects successfully is a key trait of an effective manager, so if you’re looking to improve your management skills, the combined PRINCE2® Foundation & Practitioner Combined Project Management qualification is a good option to choose.

PRINCE2® is one of the world’s most widely used project management methods, and is used in private and public sector organisations around the world, including the UK government.

Setting out a step-by-step approach to managing a project that is easily adapted to different situations and contexts, this combined course will guide you through how to manage a project logically and efficiently.

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