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What is an Operations Manager?

An operations manager is a business supervisor who oversees processes and employees. Depending on the company, they may handle everything from screening new hires to performing quality audits. Depending on the industry, they may work on the production floor around equipment or in offices with other managers.

Common Duties

Operations managers must develop and coordinate all business functions. Those working in warehouses will be responsible for freight, shipping and logistics. Those that work in manufacturing facilities will plan labor, schedule production runs, review quality checks and report to executives. In financial or health care facilities, operations managers often ensure that billing practices are followed and that labor and costs are properly documented. Operations managers are involved with staffing, budgeting, productivity tracking and report generation. They implement safety program best practices, quality checks and process improvement initiatives. Some operations managers must maintain compliance with DOT, OSHA and other regulatory requirements.

Where Do They Work?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of operations managers work in enterprises, restaurants, government agencies and consulting companies. Any company that manufactures goods will employ operations managers who oversee operations supervisors, maintenance staff and manual laborers. A select amount of operations managers are sent overseas to manage foreign manufacturing facilities. Most operations managers earn approximately $60,000 per year, but some earn up to $80,000, according to PayScale. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the highest paying industries include securities, scientific research, financial investment and computer manufacturing organizations. All of these industries pay operations managers an annual wage of at least $170,000.

Typical Degrees

All operations managers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in a field like accounting, management, human resources and business administration. Most employers expect operations managers to have a master’s degree, such as a Master of Business Administration. These advanced degree programs explore the skills and concepts needed to excel in a fast-paced services or production environment. Program curriculums are often developed and taught by professional panels of experienced business experts. These programs teach business analytics, which teaches how to use quantitative problem solving approaches, and strategic decision making, which teaches helpful cognitive techniques. Depending on the industry, some students may need to select a specialization, such as in IT, health care or manufacturing.

Required Skills

Operations managers must understand employee, business and customer needs. This requires an in-depth understanding of how to measure quality, safety, performance and satisfaction levels. They must establish specific measurements to meet company goals, develop staff competency and increase productivity. Operations managers must have strong interpersonal skills to proactively connect and establish relationships with others. Operations managers may work in bank, hospitals and factories, but they must all understand the organization’s financial needs and performance. This is because operations managers directly impact the company’s financial performance. An efficient operations manager knows how to use business software, create financial spreadsheets and use project management programs.

Related Resource: Chief Compliance Officer

Many operations managers voluntarily study project planning and management in order to improve their scheduling, organizing and problem solving skills.