How To Become an Operations Manager (With Salary and Job Outlook)

Updated January 26, 2023

Operations managers work across many industries and fulfill a variety of roles, including in human resources, project management and budget management. Because of the range of job duties they perform, operations managers often complete formal education to enter the field. If you're interested in becoming an operations manager, there are several additional factors to consider. In this article, we explore what operations managers do, how to become an operations manager and what the job outlook and salary potential are for this career.

What does an operations manager do?

Operations managers are integral members of almost any organization, where they direct processes and oversee many of the activities of their companies. Their responsibilities range from establishing training and hiring procedures to evaluating and improving organizational operations. Many managers also oversee the processes necessary for production, including planning, design and quality control. The operations manager is responsible for many more essential job duties that depend on the industry they work in, such as:

  • Developing organizational plans and procedures

  • Managing quality control and assurance practices

  • Overseeing budget performance, reporting and planning

  • Directing storage and distribution of inventory

  • Collaborating with executives to initiate operational strategies

  • Leading teams in daily processes, including in production, administration and human resources

  • Planning and organizing transitions, such as integration of new technologies

  • Establishing goals and procedures for recruiting and hiring new staff

  • Designing and executing professional development and training practices

  • Creating and implementing performance assessments and improvement plans

  • Enforcing workplace policies, including health and safety procedures

Read more: Learn About Being an Operations Manager

How to become an operations manager

The following steps can provide some insight on how to enter your career as an operations manager:

1. Earn an undergraduate degree

Most operations managers start their careers with an undergraduate degree in business management, business administration or another related field. For instance, a bachelor's degree in business administration can support your development across many business areas, including accounting and finance, human resources, project management, information technology, logistics and organizational planning. The skills an undergraduate program teaches you can ultimately help you advance your knowledge in business management and leadership.

2. Complete an internship

Completing an internship is another effective way to gain professional experience in your field. Many prospective managers may also complete internships as part of their undergraduate programs. Several roles operations interns may work in include production oversight, administration, hiring procedures, employee training, policy development and data management. Interns also develop their skills in finance and budget management, resource management and organizational planning. Interning under the supervision of a senior manager can ultimately help you develop the skills and expertise that the career requires.

Related: A Guide To Finding an Internship During College

3. Consider professional certification

Many operations managers also pursue professional certification, such as certification in supply chain management, human resources or finance operations. While some employers may not require it, a certification can showcase your capabilities in your field and increase your earning potential. For example, operations managers may earn credentials like the Certified Manager (CM) credential from the Institute of Certified Professional Managers or the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential from the Association for Supply Chain Management. Depending on your specific field, there are many more types of credentials you can pursue to demonstrate your aptitude and knowledge as an operations manager.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

4. Gain practical experience

In addition to your undergraduate degree, many employers require several years of experience in operations management or another related role. Consider taking on an entry-level management position to develop your business and leadership skills. As you advance in your career, you can also participate in continuing education, professional development or training programs.

Read more: How To Get a Job in Operations Management: Steps and Salary

Types of operations managers

Operations management can encompass a broad range of career fields, where professionals can fulfill a variety of roles. Consider some of the areas in which operations managers can specialize:

  • Supply chain management: Operations managers in supply chain management oversee inventory control, production and distribution. They may also manage the sourcing and procurement of suppliers to maintain production materials.

  • Project management: Operations project managers monitor the performance of departmental and team projects across a range of industries. In this area, managers often direct team collaboration, assign tasks, measure productivity and implement strategies that increase productivity and maximize project ROI.

  • Human resources management: HR operations managers often design and implement the processes and procedures employees follow in the workplace. Operations managers in this business area also oversee budgeting, hiring and employee relations practices.

  • Logistics management: Logistics is another field operations managers can specialize in, where they work in distribution facilities and manage shipping and order fulfillment operations. Managers in logistics also evaluate and choose cost-effective transportation services to ensure customer deliveries arrive quickly.

  • Budget planning and management: Professionals in operational budget management oversee the evaluation and planning of operational budgets. They monitor and record financial activities pertaining to business operations, including revenue, expenses and operational costs.

Related: Operations Management: Everything You Need To Know

Average salary for an operations manager

Operations managers can expect a substantial salary range, with an average of $63,521 per year. This income level can vary, and employers may also offer monetary incentives, bonuses, awards or profit-sharing opportunities. Income potential for operations managers can also vary due to location, experience level, qualifications and type of employer. Professionals who focus their careers in specific areas of operations management may also see fluctuations in average income levels. Consider the average salary ranges for several common specializations for operations managers:

  • Logistics manager: $60,184 per year

  • Human resources manager: $69,607 per year

  • Production manager: $73,045 per year

  • Supply chain manager: $84,562 per year

Related: Salary Range: Definition and How It's Used by Employers

Job outlook for operations managers

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the career outlook for general and operations managers to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030. This growth rate may vary, too, depending on the industry and specific field of expertise. For instance, the demand for top executives may fluctuate as professionals leave the workplace to retire or pursue alternative career fields. Location can also affect the demand for operations managers, as more urban areas can offer additional industrial and business career opportunities.

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