Similar to a project manager, the purpose of an operations manager is to plan, direct, and coordinate the operations of an organization. While project managers see the completion of a project from beginning to end, the role of an operations manager is more general and focused on the long term. An operations management program will prepare students in research areas such as supply chain design and control, manufacturing and production systems, environmental health, revenue management, industrial risk management, and more.
Overview of Operations Management
Like any field of management, a combination of people skills, creativity, rationality, and practical knowledge are used to be successful. To become an operations manager, one must show proficiency in a variety of fields. As listed on o*net, some of these include:
- Administration and Management
- Customer and Personal Service
- Personal and Human Resources
- Economics and Accounting
- Computers and Electronics
- Sales and Marketing
- Production and Processing
This knowledge must be demonstrated by one’s ability to navigate various software, active listening, reading comprehension, social perceptiveness, critical thinking, complex problem solving, and quick decision making. Typical work activities include attaining information, problem solving, scheduling work and activities, communicating with people within and outside the organization, establishing and maintaining client relationships, and being able to influence others.
Depending on the size of an organization one works for, an operations manager may have to travel to meetings, conferences, or other company locations for their work. Be prepared to work more than 40 hours a week, including into evenings and weekends.
Job Prospects in Operations Management
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage in May 2013 for operations managers was $116,090. A professional in operations management is considered a top executive at their organization, often times a position similar to that of chief executive officer (CEO). Other possible jobs in the field include Director of Operations, Plant Manager, Store Manger, Facilities Manager, Plant Superintendent, Vice President of Operations, Warehouse Manger, and Chief Operating Officer.
To attain an operations management position, one only needs an associate’s or bachelor’s degree; generally, it is the work experience that propels one toward the position. It is also a good idea to look into membership at the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS). APICS is “the premier provider of research, education and certification programs that elevate end-to-end supply chain excellence, innovation and resilience.” Over 37,000 members are a part of APICS with more than 250 international partners. APICS also offers a couple certification programs:
- APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM): This certification is the proven industry standard, and required by thousands of employers all over the world.
- APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional: This certification proves complete understanding of the entire supply chain process, from supplier to customer.
- APICS Certified Fellow in Production and Inventory: This is the next level of the CPIM, allowing for presentations, public work, and teaching.
Note that some of the certifications require certain education or experience requirements, and other various pre-requisites. There are many resources out there to take advantage of and to help expand your network.