How to Become an Operations Manager

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The Basics of Becoming an Operations Manager

Leadership-minded students might want to learn how to become an operations manager. Just what is it that operations managers do? Operations managers are the strategic planners, directors and supervisors of the diverse physical or technical processes that help private and public organizations run smoothly. Successful operations managers could therefore make an impact on performance, productivity, efficiency and profitability.

General and business operations managers have numerous duties, so the specifics of what they do on a daily basis could vary widely. Often, they are responsible for things like how goods are transported, supply chains, quality assurance, and manufacturing. On the administrative side, they may set staff schedules, assign work, form policies, allocate resources and negotiate with personnel.

Wonder how to become an operations manager? To become an operations manager most often requires a minimum of a bachelors degree.iHowever, operations managers requirements are sometimes linked to the type of position and the industry (E.g. restaurant, manufacturing, sports franchise, Fortune 500 company). ii Also, as one climbs the corporate ladder, employers might look for candidates with work experience and a graduate-level education may be required.

Consequently, some operations managers go on to pursue a graduate degree such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Administration (MPA) or a degree in law, liberal arts or an area related to one’s field of employment. ii These programs might help current operations managers hone their grasp of customer care, labor relations, statistics, sales, accounting and production methods, among other key areas of administration.ii

An Operations Manager Salary Potential vi

The average annual salary for general and operations managers (May 2017) is as follows.

  • Lowest 10th Salary  Less than $44,510
  • Median Salary          $100,410
  • Highest 90th Salary  $208,00 +

Top States with the Highest Salary Averages iv

The top paying states for general and operations managers (May 2017) are as follows.

States                                     Lowest 10th salary                Highest 90th salary

  • New Jersey                  $72,360                                   $167,790
  • New York                      $53,050                                   $151,920
  • District of Columbia      $53,080                                   $149,220
  • Delaware                      $72,030                                   $149,120
  • Connecticut                   $57,070                                   $147,770

How Do Your Skills Stack Up?

O’Net reports that operations managers perform over 25 tasks, many of which they do daily. How do these responsibilities line up with your personality, goals and interests? ii

  • Face-to Face Discussions      95%
  • Telephone                               96%
  • Electronic Mail                        91%

What Will You Learn with an Operations Management Degree?iii

An operations management degree program might feature several key courses.

  • Principles of General Management
  • Customer Service
  • Human Resources
  • Accounting and Finance
  • Marketing Strategy

Essentially, the goal of a degree in operations management is to ready persons to take the lead in many, rather than just one, function. Coursework might feature management theory to equip students with a technical background in organizational theory and leadership. In tandem, many programs allow students to build expertise in an area such as logistics management.

Here, courses in operations management provide a framework to help students understand how to improve the efficiency of things like manufacturing and production systems, sales promotion and skilled trade schedules.

Logistics courses highlight warehousing, inventory, and distribution and could more narrowly define the students’ skills and knowledge. Together these topics could help build key operation managers skills such as the ability to analyze systems and solve complex problems. ii

The Top 5 Most Interesting Facts About Operations Managers

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has some interesting information about employment trends for operations managers.

  1. The industry with the highest level of employment for operations managers is in management of companies and enterprises, followed by restaurants and other eating places iv
  2. Top paying industry for operations managers is monetary authorities – central banks iv
  3. California, Texas, New York, Illinois and Florida lead as the states with the highest level of employment for operations managers iv
  4. Overall employment for general and operations managers is projected to grow by 9% between 2016 to 2026v
  5. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT and Trenton, NJ are the top paying metropolitan areas for operations managers iv

FAQs About How to Become an Operations Manager

How Much Do Operations Managers Make?

Reports from the BLS for May 2017 indicate that operations managers could earn an average annual salary of from $73,760 in retail trade to an average annual salary $137,950 in professional, scientific and technical services. vi In May 2017, the average annual salary for general and operations managers was $100,410. vi

Is a General Manager the Same as a CEO?

In some organizations there could be some overlap between Operations Managers and Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), though they are not technically the same roles. General and operations managers are usually tasked with broad duties that involve coordination of many of the daily activities of a business. CEOs, also called Executive Directors, President or Managing Directors provide overall direction for an enterprise and may report to a board of directors. vii

What Is the Difference Between Logistics and Operations Management?

Logistics is one of the segments of operations management that focuses primarily on the transportation of goods from one place to another and is a key element of supply chain management (SCM). Operations management is a bit broader. It is also concerned with production and ensuring that all departments work together like a well-oiled machine.

What Is the Difference Between General Managers and Operations Managers?

While the roles of a General Manager and Operations Manager are similar, their responsibilities differ. Both leaders in their own right, the terms ‘general’ and ‘operations’ are good determinants of what is asked of each role. A General Manager is in charge of many facets of the company while an Operations Manager is usually tasked with strategies that promote profitable production within a company. Thus, a General Manager is needed in all businesses without exception, while an Operations Manager usually has a niche in companies that offer products and services.

What Job Titles Are Similar or the Same as Operations Manager?

Empower your career search by keeping your eyes peeled on job postings for some of the other reported job titles. These might include Business Manager, Facility Manager, General Manager (GM), Operations Director, Operations Manager, Plant Manager, Plant Superintendent, Production Manager, and Store Manager. ii If you focused your education in logistics, you could also scan for openings such as Logistics Analytics Manager or Logistics Operations Director. viii

What Are Important Operations Manager Skills?

Today’s Operations Managers certainly need to have mad technology skills to navigate the latest industry software, but that isn’t all. Their managerial role necessitates someone who could actively listen to others, communicate clearly and persuasively. Because they are in charge, operations managers need to be able to make decisions, lead and manage not just people, projects and finances, but also their own time. ii

What Is Above a General Manager?

General Managers could advance to higher level managerial or executive positions. Sometimes a company might offer an ‘executive development’ or ‘corporate training’ program to help with these ambitions. I An advanced degree (E.g. MBA) and extensive managerial experience could also help GMs climb up the corporate level to a CEO position. v


[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm#tab-4 | [ii]onetonline.org/link/summary/11-1021.00 | [iii]nces.ed.gov/ipeds/cipcode/cipdetail.aspx?y=55&cipid=88881 | [iv]bls.gov/oes/current/oes111021.htm | [v]bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm#tab-6 | [vi]bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm#tab-5 | [vii]bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm#tab-2 | [viii] onetonline.org/link/summary/11-3071.03 |