Operations manager is a job title that can cover many areas, industries and departments, but the basic function is the same -- to ensure that the company or department runs as smoothly as possible. Specific duties vary depending on the industry.
As operations manager, you will determine the most efficient ways for your business or department to operate. You will oversee logistics management, which includes making sure that the company has the equipment and procedures in place to give customers the best product or service possible. You will also coordinate with the finance department ensure that the budget is reasonable for the operations the company needs.
If your company has any third-party business relations, such as security or outsourced customer service, you will ensure that all legal and administrative technicalities are covered. Many of an operations manager's other responsibilities vary by company and industry. For example, if you work in IT, you may be responsible for making decisions about servers and other tech, while in manufacturing, you will be responsible for making sure that the company’s machinery is up to date and the proper safety protocols are in place.
Leadership and Planning
The ability to plan is essential for an operations manager. You will need to use both creativity and problem-solving skill in order to create and implement plans to help your company succeed. You may need to create plans for new product roll-outs or company restructuring. You will also need leadership and communication skills to interact effectively with the company’s employees and customers. You must be confident and respectful, while offering employees support when needed. The ability to multitask and manage stress will stand you in good stead as you oversee multiple operations; for example, you may need to oversee manufacturing plans while simultaneously developing safety protocols and planning a training session.
Traditionally, operations managers learned on the job, gaining experience and eventually working up to the position, but some colleges such as Ashford University now offer both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in operations management. The degree program includes courses in supply chains and production, production control and quality management.
A bachelor’s or master’s degree in operations management or an MBA can help you get into a company, but many employers still want experience in the field. Operations managers may be materials managers, production managers or logistics managers. Your education and experience may determine the most suitable role for you. Your experience can also determine which operations management position you take on, from being in charge of the operations management of a single department to overseeing operations for an entire company. Many larger companies employ regional operations managers that oversee a particular area and report to a national operations manager. Even a smaller company may employ a senior operations manager to whom each department’s operations manager will report.
While your salary will vary by location and industry, operations managers are among the top-earning professionals in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As an operations manager, your annual wage may start at $45,130, but the average is $117,200 as of May 2014. Some of the best-paid operations managers, most of whom are in the financial sector, research and development industry or computer manufacturing, may clear more than $150,000 a year. Some of the industries that hire the most operations managers are restaurants, local government and consulting services. The BLS estimates that the employment rate for operations managers will increase by 11 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is average for all occupations.