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The Definition of a Production Supervisor

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"motion gears -team force" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: ralphbijker (R11) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Imagine any type of work team without a leader. Each worker would be striving for his own goals, with some having no real goal at all. The hardest workers might surpass their goals on their own, but could miss other points that are important to the company. As a production supervisor, you'll make sure all workers are shooting for the same goals, meeting company benchmarks and following safety and other important issues at the same time.


Production supervisors oversee workers producing parts and products in manufacturing environments.

Production Supervisor Job Description

Production supervisors are responsible for both setting goals and seeing that goals are met. In short, it will be your job to keep production running smoothly and efficiently. By doing so, you'll ensure that products are delivered on time and that they meet the company's established levels of quality.

There's much more to the production supervisor role, however. In addition to overseeing production, you must monitor each worker's productivity and work quality. Meanwhile, you'll want to find ways to keep your workers motivated so production moves at the desired pace. In a production line, one lagging worker can disrupt and slow down the entire line. As production supervisor, you'll stress the importance of every job to the team effort.

As production supervisor, you won't be expected do the production work yourself. According to the supervisor definition, your job is to oversee or manage production workers. A supervisor is a member of first-line management, just above the workers, who reports to more senior managers.

Production supervisors often plan the systems that enable the team to meet goals. You'll explain the system and expectations to each worker, set schedules, monitor progress and conduct workers' performance appraisals. Along the way, you may need to intervene in workers' disputes, equipment malfunctions and other disruptions. You'll also coordinate with workers' unions and union reps to make sure contract points are met. You'll report progress to upper management on a regular basis, including budgets, financial targets and progress toward meeting financial goals.

Depending on the type of production facility and the products made, production supervisors are sometimes called manufacturing supervisors or industrial supervisors. Look for all three job titles during your job search.

Education, Training and Salaries

Some production supervisors in engineering or other high-tech fields may need a bachelor's or associate degree to have the best shot at getting the job. A background or coursework in finance or accounting will also help with the budgeting aspects of the job. Most of the time, however, a high school diploma is the minimum requirement.

Experience is key for a production supervisor. Having experience as a production worker gives you knowledge of your job and those around you and how they all relate to one another. You'll also know the importance of productivity, goals and safety regulations to the jobs you'll be overseeing.

Employers look for leadership traits when hiring production supervisors. During interviews, point out qualities such as communication skills, your ability to motivate others, take initiative and solve problems.

The median annual wage of production supervisors in May 2017 was $28.31 an hour, with a range of $16.84 an hour to $46.82 an hour. The median expressed as an annual salary was $58,870 a year. A median salary is the midpoint in a list of salaries for one occupation, where half earned more and half earned less.

About the Industry

Production supervisors work in manufacturing plants and facilities where products are made. You could supervise workers who make plastics and plastic products, machinery or machine parts, vehicle parts, fabricated metal parts or other types of manufacturing environments. Your job will involve standing and walking on hard floors as you supervise workers and help with problems, as well as sitting and working on the computer inputting data and compiling reports.

Years of Experience

Once you've gained supervisory experience, you may move up to supervising more employees and receive a salary increase. Companies also look outside the company for production supervisors, so look for those job advertisements, too, when you're ready to move on.

If you're promoted to management at some point, the median salary for industrial production managers was $100,580 per year or $48.36 an hour, as of May 2017.

Job Growth Trend

The need for production workers and supervisors could increase or decrease depending on the industry and the economy. For example, plastics will likely continue to be produced as manufacturers try to make lighter and less expensive products, but jobs producing auto parts will depend on whether manufacturers keep, increase or decrease their production facilities in the U.S. Pay attention to economic trends for clues to where future jobs will be.


Barbara Bean-Mellinger is a freelance writer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area who has written about careers and education for,, and more. Barbara holds a B.S. from the University of Pittsburgh and has won numerous awards for her writing.

Photo Credits

"motion gears -team force" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: ralphbijker (R11) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.