How to Become a Production Manager

How to Become a Production Manager: Career Path Guide

Although there are other paths you can take, a very effective route for becoming a production manager is to follow these general steps:


1. Excel in coursework in English, Drama, Computers, Accounting & Economics in high school

2. Determine if this occupation is suited to your interests and qualities

3. Pursue a degree in Business or Engineering

4. Find a suitable job (it may be entry-level) 

5. Progress into roles of greater pay and responsibility as you gain experience


Below we've expanded on these points, to give you a more complete idea of what you'll need to begin a career as a production manager in the United States or Canada.



How Can I Prepare For This Career as a High School Student

Excelling in certain areas while you’re a high school student will help you qualify for business school, and help you develop competencies that can be applied practically in a career as a production manager. These areas include:


Computer coursework: In some manufacturing plants, computers are used to run assembly-line machinery, and in most cases, computers are used to manage inventory.


English, Speech, and Drama: Will help you develop powerful communication skills, used for writing reports, speak with your employees and colleagues, and negotiating with suppliers and customers.


Accounting: The methods you learn will help you work on budgets and report on progress, as well as identify business opportunities.


Economics: Will help you understand fundamental economic concepts, such as supply and demand.


Shop Class: Experience with tools, production processes and various materials will help familiarize you with industrial production in general.



What Formal Education Will I Need?

There is no standard educational requirement that you have to meet to become a production manager, but earning a degree in Business or Engineering is highly recommended.


A degree in Business will help you learn how to run a production facility and manage processes and employees, whereas an Engineering degree will help you understand manufacturing processes, as well as equipment and materials used.




What Experience Will I Need?

As mentioned in the introduction, there is no set path for becoming an production manager. Some managers have a university degree and not much work experience, while others have relatively little formal education but a lot of relevant experience. In general however, many employers prefer if you have some professional experience working in the industry in which they operate, or experience in a management or operational capacity…or some combination thereof.


Basically, getting hired as a production manager all depends on if the employer thinks you’ll be a good fit based on your combination of experience and education (ideally, you'll have both).



What is a Production Manager?

Production managers are responsible for overseeing the daily operations of manufacturing and related plants. This involves overseeing and coordinating plant operations including machining, assembly, receiving, output and equipment maintenance, with the ultimate goal of ensuring that performance in shipping, inventory and output is at optimal levels, and that work is done safely. 



What Does a Production Manager Do?

Although their specific duties can vary from job to job, production managers are generally responsible for the following:


• Maintaining current knowledge and skill set pertaining to production and production management

• Planning, organizing and directing manufacturing and maintenance operations

• Developing plans and processes that minimize manufacturing costs through effective utilization of manpower, equipment, facilities, materials, and capital

• Maintaining and improving housekeeping of production facility

• Continually improving site safety by addressing physical safety and employee safety issues

• Managing budget and expenditures, being sure to operate within budgetary parameters

• Establishing individual and group accountabilities throughout department

• Ensuring that collective bargaining agreements are in place



What Are the Working Conditions of Production Managers?

Working Hours: Production managers usually work standard office hours (for example, 9-5) but overtime may be required when an organization makes significant changes to its operations, or to meet critical deadlines. In some facilities, managers work night or weekend shifts and must be on call to deal with emergencies at any time.


Work Environment: Production managers typically split their time between the production area and a nearby office. Some local, regional and/or international travel may be required to meet new customers or suppliers. Travel is also more likely when working for an organization with many production facilities.



Should I Become a Production Manager?

Determining if a career field suits your personality as well as your professional ambitions is just as important, albeit in a different way, than meeting its formal requirements, such as obtaining the necessary education.


After all, you won’t much enjoy a career that doesn’t align with your values, hold your interest, or require traits that you simply don’t have. 


If you have the following traits, qualities and interests, a career as a production manager might be an excellent fit for you:


• You have mental and emotional stamina

• You enjoy work that involves logical, systematic processes

• You can act decisively to solve staff or equipment-related problems

• You have outstanding organizational and time management abilities 

• You have the ability to motivate, lead and inspire others

• You enjoy directing workflow, and directing the work of others

• You’re interested in working with managers from other departments to achieve a company’s overall goals

• You’re interested in a well-paying career in business with plenty of opportunities for advancement

• You’re interested in spending time on a shop floor around big gear and machinery



What is the Salary of a Production Manager?

Salary in the United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in the “Industrial Production Managers” occupational group earn a median salary of $97,140 per year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $58,610, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $165,450.


Salary in Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the “Manufacturing Managers” occupational group earn an average starting wage of $39.33 per hour, and an overall average wage of $50.57 per hour, or an overall salary of $105,167 per year.


Please Note: The salary level you could earn as a Production Manager can vary quite a bit, and typically depends on the following factors:


• Your level of education, experience and certification

• The level of responsibility involved in your job

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The industry in which you work

• Many other factors



Who Creates Jobs for Production Managers?

Employers of production managers typically including the following types of organizations:


• Management consulting firms

• Fabricated metal product manufacturers

• Transportation equipment manufacturers

• Electronic equipment manufacturers 

• Chemical manufacturers

• Machinery manufacturers

• Textiles manufacturers

• Food and drug manufacturers

• Commercial goods manufacturers (such as automobiles, furniture, toys, etc.)

• Various other sectors of industry 



Production Manager Jobs

Our job board below has a listing of "Production Manager" postings in your area of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom or Australia.

What Career Advancement Opportunities Are There?

If you demonstrate self-motivation, initiative, aptitude and competence as a production manager, you ought to have the opportunity to move into positions of greater responsibility and pay. For example, if you demonstrate the above-mentioned qualities, you could potentially come across the following types of career advancement opportunities:


• Moving into an overall factory management or strategic planning role at a regional or national level.

• Becoming responsible for production on a number of sites.

• Setting up and managing operations overseas with multinational firms.

• Becoming a production or management consultant.


Success Tip: Completing a professional qualification, such as an MBA degree, can help with career advancement prospects.



What are Careers Similar to “Production Manager”?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “Production Manager”:


Chief Operating Officer (COO)

• Management Consultant

• Manufacturing Engineer

• Manufacturing Executive

• Manufacturing Manager

• Operations Analyst

• Operations Manager

• New Food Product Developer



What Scholarships Are There for Aspiring Production Managers? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming a production manager. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Any Field of Study Scholarships” page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you qualify for, even if it's just because you meet 1 of the criteria, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!




The following resources were used to gather information for this “How to Become a Production Manager” career path guide:


• Occupational Profile: “Operations Manager.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved May 6, 2017.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Industrial Production Manager.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved May 6, 2017.

• Job Profiles: “Production Manager.” AGCAS editors (June 2016). Retrieved May 6, 2017.

• Job Profiles: “Production Manager (manufacturing).” (April 11, 2017). National Careers Service. Retrieved May 6, 2017.



Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a production manager. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


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