An operations manager is one of the key positions in any organization or business. Known as a leadership role for finance and business professionals, and operations manager has a significant responsibility to ensure that the goods and services of the company are produced efficiently. Overseeing a range of departments within the company, an operations manager is the go-to person when it comes to coordinating and directing day-to-day operations.
If you’re interested in becoming an operations manager, it’s important that you possess the right key skills, experience, and qualifications, so here is a guide on what you need to know before embarking on this path.
What Does an Operations Manager Do?
The main duty of an operations manager is to make sure that the company you are working for is running correctly and efficiently. Regardless of the industry you are in, it’s vital that you adhere to the expectations of clients and customers. In straightforward terms, your main duty will be to make sure that operations run according to plan, meaning that customers, employees, and clients get the best experience possible from the company. Although there are various challenges and barriers you will face along the way, having the right key skills and expertise at hand will make sure that day to day operations run smoothly. Some of the main duties that you will responsible for include:
- Managing budgets
- Negotiating contracts
- Planning how materials and resources are distributed and used
- Working with multiple departments within a company
- Researching new technology and other efficiency methods
- Managing quality assurance programs
- Planning for change and controlling it
As an operations manager, you will have a broad remit, with specific tasks varying greatly from business to business. Most of your time will involve monitoring and analyzing your business’s current system of production to make sure that it’s still effective, before working out a strategy to make any changes if need be. You will gain a lot of job satisfaction in the knowledge that you’re making important company decisions that will benefit the infrastructure of the organization.
While many individuals flourish in roles that require them to work evenings, weekends, and holidays, there are others that prefer a Monday-Friday, 9-5 position. As an operations manager, you’re likely to work standard office opening hours, however, you do need to have some level of flexibility. As an operations manager is regarded as a senior role, there are events that you may be required to attend which will take place in the evening or at weekends.
Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
To qualify as an operations manager, you will likely need a bachelor’s degree at minimum in business administration, or another related area of study. Completing a bachelor’s degree in business administration will equip you with the key skills and marketing attributes that can help you succeed in this role. When combined with on-the-job experience, graduates will be fully prepared to enter into a variety of career paths, including:
- Government agencies
- Private companies
- International organizations
- Nonprofit organizations
There are key courses that tend to be featured in the business management degree curriculum, such as:
- Business communication
- Financial accounting
- Principles of management
Gain On-the-Job Experience
An important step when it comes to becoming an operations manager is to build on-the-job skills and experience. To do this, you will need to begin in an entry-level position. For instance, some operations managers may start out as an operations supervisor. The main duties of this role include:
- Planning and preparing budgets
- Evaluating staff performance
- Administrative functions
When working in an entry-level position, the knowledge you gain could lead to more responsibilities and promotions. The operations manager role is classed as a senior role, meaning you will need to obtain an undergraduate degree or higher to qualify for the position. In many cases, candidates need to have previous management experience.
Earn a Master’s Degree
Completing a master’s degree in operations management will give you the opportunity to develop strong leadership skills and the ability to link performance, people, and workflow processes, resulting in optimal efficiency. Some of the modules that you will learn on the course can include:
- Management science
- Financial management
- Enterprise information system models
- Marketing management
- Managing people and organizations
Kettering University Online provides a Master of Science operations management program online that can teach you valuable skills and attributes to succeed as an operations manager. If you are interested in obtaining a master’s in operations management, click here for more information about what their course entails.
While completing a bachelor’s in business administration, gaining hands-on experience, as well as completing a master’s degree, there are other qualifications that employers will be on the lookout for you to help you climb the career path. Before applying for an operations manager position, you should also possess:
- Knowledge of business management principles and practices
- Fantastic information technology skills
- Knowledge of human resources’ principles and practices
- Knowledge of finance and accounting principles and practices
Skills and Attributes
Now you have a better understanding of the qualifications and experience you need to succeed as an operations manager, there are key skills and attributes that you must obtain in order to flourish in the role. Some of the skills that employers look for in candidates include:
- People skills – ensuring that communication levels are working well between all the different departments within an organization
- IT skills – making sure that you stay up to date with the latest technology and software within the company
- Presentation skills – delivering ideas and results to stakeholders within the business, including senior management
- Management skills – overseeing teams across departments to make sure company-wide goals are achieved
- Problem-solving skills – thinking outside the box and coming up with quick and efficient solutions to problems
- Planning skills – keeping track of the competition, as well as staying up to date to make sure that everyone within the organization knows which direction the company is heading
There are many managerial responsibilities that operations managers must perform, so if you’re serious about going into this field, one of the most useful skills that will carry you far is leadership. Knowing how to set goals, mentor and lead by example, take responsibility for your actions, and know-how to guide your team towards success is important. Doing so will make the team more productive and efficient with their work. Operations managers need to also possess excellent oral and written skills and know-how to effectively communicate with others.
Salaries and Job Outlook
The employment of operations managers is projected to grow in the coming years. Between 2016 and 2026, there is expected to be a 9% increase in operations management roles, which is slightly faster when compared to average occupations. What’s more, operations managers tend to be well compensated too, with the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) reporting that the annual median salary for an operations manager stands at $100,000 (as of May 2017), however, salaries for this role will vary depending on the industry.
The area you live in will also have an influence on how much you can make from an operations manager profession. The metropolitan locations that pay the highest salary include Bridgeport, New York, San Francisco, San Jose, and Trenton. The best-paying states and districts for operations managers include New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and District of Columbia.
Once you’ve gained the relevant experience and qualifications needed to work as an operations manager, you will be happy to know that there are a variety of other roles that you may be interested in going into, including:
- Executive management
- Supply chain management
- Product development management
- VP operations
Climbing the career ladder and becoming an operations manager can be tough if you don’t have the time to commit yourself to education. Thankfully, online courses have become increasingly popular, meaning you can study to become an operations manager while simultaneously working in your current job. Having the flexibility and freedom to study at your own pace and leisure will mean you can put your full attention and focus on your course. Other benefits of online studying include:
- Learning from the comfort of your own home
- Lower total costs
- Avoid the daily commute
- Learning the importance of time management
- Career advancement
- Self-discipline and responsibility
Before signing up for an online course in operations management, make sure that you do your research into course specifications so you can gain a better understanding on what the program entails. The last thing you want to do is shell out a ton of money on a course that provides no benefit, so if you have serious aspirations of entering into senior roles like an operations manager, make sure that you complete a program that is relevant to your career goals.
If you are looking for a change in career and like the idea of managing operations for a large organization, an operations manager may be the perfect role for you. Occupying a senior role in a business comes with its heavy duties and responsibilities, so it’s important that you have the right attributes and qualifications needed to succeed in this role.