How to Become a Director of Change Management

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In the corporate environment, it may sometimes feel like change is the only constant. Successful businesses adapt and evolve all the time, responding to factors such as new technologies, changing consumer preferences, fluctuation markets and broadening economic. While such change can be necessary and even profitable, it can also be challenging for employees who crave stability.

The director of change management can be critical for helping businesses implement strategic change and support employees in navigating change effectively. By obtaining advanced training in organizational psychology, change management professionals can help implement changes that benefit both institutions and their personnel.

Woman teaching a class

What Is a Director of Change Management?

The basic mission of the director of change management is to help a business enact new policies or procedures to achieve broader business goals while ensuring that employees adapt to these transitions as seamlessly as possible.

The person in the role may help shepherd employees through different kinds of change, including the following:

  • Corporate restructuring or the introduction of a new office hierarchy
  • Implementing new technologies or information technology (IT) infrastructure
  • Developing new internal policies and procedures that shape the day-to-day employee experience
  • Adapting to market trends and implementing new strategic direction

The director of change management is tasked with rolling out these alterations in the organization in a way that minimizes employee resistance, ensuring that changes within the company are as frictionless as possible.

Director of Change Management Job Description

While the specific duties and responsibilities for the role can vary by organization, a typical director of change management job description includes the following duties.

  • Collaborating with managers to gain operational data
  • Preparing change management strategies to reduce costs and minimize employee resistance
  • Communicating with staff members to evaluate areas of possible resistance
  • Coaching managers and supervisors through the best strategies for communicating changes

Steps to Become a Director of Change Management

Those who are passionate about helping organizations and employees maneuver during times of transition will naturally have questions about how to attain the role. Effectiveness in change management requires advanced education and hands-on experience.

Earning an Undergraduate Degree

First, aspiring directors of change management must build foundational skills, which they can acquire with an undergraduate degree. This may be a bachelor’s program in organizational psychology or a related field.

Gaining Experience in Middle Management

A big part of change management is coaching managers and supervisors on how to communicate effectively with personnel. (This includes managers who lead virtual teams.) To earn the trust and buy-in of these managers, it’s important to gain on-the-ground experience from positions in middle management.

Becoming Certified

The Certified Change Management Professional (CCMP) credential can help individuals achieve the most prestigious positions and the most advanced salaries. Earning the credential involves taking courses that cover change management basics and completing a final examination.

Pursuing an Advanced Degree

An advanced degree provides an opportunity to hone change management skills as well as core leadership competencies. While advanced degrees aren’t always required for the role, they can lead to more competitive salaries and to positions of greater responsibility. A master’s degree in applied psychology, such as USC’s Master of Applied Psychology (MAPP), can be particularly helpful.

What Is the Typical Director of Change Management Salary?

The median base salary for directors of change management is approximately $165,000 as of June 2023, according to the online career and salary resource Payscale. Some positions in change management also offer opportunities for pay benefits such as bonuses and profit sharing.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that career opportunities for management analysts will grow by 10% between 2022 and 2032, which is more than three times faster than the 3% projection for all occupations.

Many factors can affect salaries, including level of education, years of experience and geographic location. Additionally, certification can lead to higher levels of pay.

Lead Efforts for Institutional Change

Change can be difficult, especially for employees who prefer predictability in their professional life. However, change can also be necessary for businesses to remain financially strong and competitive in the marketplace. A director of change management can help businesses enact change in ways that empower, rather than intimidate, employees.

Success in the field requires advanced education, including insight into applied psychology, communication and leadership. USC’s online MAPP exposes students to these and other skill sets, providing a firm foundation for success in the change management role. Those who graduate from this program go on to work for some of the biggest change management firms in the country.

The USC MAPP degree provides in-depth insight into human behavior, with a curriculum that features a unique blend of consumer psychology and organizational psychology. The program is tailored to help students succeed across a range of corporate careers not just in change management but also in talent development and recruitment, organizational development, social media marketing and more.

Find out how USC can prepare you to make a long-term, positive impact in change management.

Recommended Readings

The Future of Consumer Psychology: 3 Trends
Strategies for Managing Stress in the Workplace
What Is Upskilling, and Why Is It Good for Companies?


Betterteam, “Change Manager Job Description”
Frontiers in Psychology, “The Psychology of Resistance to Change: The Antidotal Effect of
Organizational Justice, Support and Leader-Member Exchange”

Indeed, “How to Become a Change Manager (With Duties and Salary)”
Indeed, “What Does an Organizational Change Manager Really Do?”
Payscale, “Average Change Management Director Salary”
TechTrends, “Change Management: From Theory to Practice”
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Management Analysts”