blog/career/career advice/supervisor vs manager in tech: key differences

supervisor vs manager in tech: key differences

5 min readpublished 30 March 2022updated 15 September 2022

Many organizations have managers and supervisors that fulfill different functions within the business. In some companies, however, the responsibilities of these roles are not clearly delineated. Some overlap exists between the position responsibilities, but it is important to understand the key differences between these two positions.

One key difference between supervisors and managers in tech is that supervisors tend to have a technical focus, while managers tend to have a people focus. This means that supervisors are often better equipped to handle tasks like quality control and process improvement, while managers are better equipped to handle tasks like team building and conflict resolution.

Manager vs supervisor responsibilities

A supervisor usually reports to a manager within a company. Most of the time, a supervisor is a high performer on the team who has been with the company for a long time. They understand how the team functions, the corporate policies, and the quality of work that's required of them and their teammates.

High-level supervisor responsibilities

A supervisor typically oversees and monitors work, ensuring that it is done according to established standards. They may also provide support and guidance to those who report to them. Supervisors don't typically have decision-making authority, but they may have an opportunity to recommend solutions or courses of action.

In many organizations, a supervisor is the first step in management and an introduction to leadership responsibilities.

High-level manager responsibilities

A manager, on the other hand, has broader responsibilities and more decision-making authority. They are responsible for developing and implementing strategic plans, and overseeing day-to-day operations. Managers also typically have staff reporting to them, and are responsible for overseeing performance, coaching and training employees, and making decisions about hiring, firing, and promotions.

Find out how leads differ from managers at tech companies

Similarities between managers and supervisors

Both supervisors and managers are responsible for completing work efficiently and effectively. They also both set goals and establish expectations for employees, provide feedback, and conduct performance reviews, while ensuring that company policies and procedures are followed.

It's important to note that there is some overlap between supervisor and manager roles, and that the titles themselves don't necessarily indicate which role an individual is performing in a given organization.

Many companies now use the term “manager” to refer to anyone in a supervisory role, regardless of their actual title.

Differences between supervisors and managers

There are several key differences between supervisors and managers in the tech industry.

Technical expertise

Supervisors typically have more technical expertise than managers. They may be experts in the work that they're overseeing and have a deep understanding of how it should be done. This isn't always the case, but it's common for supervisors to be able to do the work themselves if needed.

While managers may have some technical expertise, they don't need to be experts in the work that their employees are doing. In fact, it's often helpful if they're not too close to the day-to-day details, so that they can take a step back and see the forest beyond the trees.

Key duties

Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that work is done pursuant to established standards, and that it meets quality requirements.

Managers, on the other hand, are more focused on the big picture. They develop strategies and the plans necessary to achieve objectives set by upper management. They also oversee multiple teams or departments, and are responsible for ensuring that work is coordinated between these various groups.

Human resources management

Supervisors may need to provide training to employees so they can perform their jobs correctly.

Managers have the primary responsibility of staffing a department or team. This includes recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new employees.

So, while supervisors are responsible for ensuring that quality standards are met and work is completed efficiently, managers are responsible for ensuring that people are working effectively as a team.

Moving up the career ladder

Supervisor vs manager salary

Supervisor vs manager salary ranges vary widely since they are influenced by industry and market conditions. Generally, supervisors earn less than managers. The specific salary range for a supervisor or manager will depend on the company and specific position.

In addition to their salaries, supervisors and managers may also receive bonuses, benefits, and stock options.

Glassdoor reports the following ranges for these roles in the US as of March, 2022:



Security Supervisor: US$65K–US$81KOperations Manager: US$32K–$149K

Project Supervisor: US$35K–US$130K

Product Manager: US$73K–US$175K

Senior Quality Assurance Supervisor: US$46K–US$98K

Project Manager: US$43K–US$232K

Senior Supervisor: US$35K–US$130K

Delivery Manager: US$84K–$140K

Transitioning from a supervisor to a manager

Supervisors who want to move into management positions can prepare by pursuing additional education or gaining specialized knowledge within and about the company. They need to gain experience in:

  • Leading and motivating teams
  • Developing strategies and plans
  • Setting goals
  • Overseeing budgeting and finances
  • Analyzing data
  • Making decisions
  • Hiring and firing employees
  • Initiating disciplinary actions

While supervisors typically report to a manager, there are cases in which they may be on the same level of a business hierarchy. This generally happens when the company is small, or there are no other management positions available. In these instances, supervisors need to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills so they can work well with their team and maintain positive working relationships.


Supervisors and managers play key roles and are intimately connected to a company's success. They may have similar responsibilities in certain areas, but it is essential to understand the difference between supervisor and manager roles. Understanding the differences means you are better equipped to take on a supervisor or manager role in tech.

get the latest tech insights, career growth, and lifestyle tips right in your inbox