How to Become an Operations Manager


How to Become an Operations Manager

If you’re interested in motivating and leading others, eliminating inefficiencies in the supply chain, and having a well-paying desk job, then a career as an operations manager might be perfect for you.


As an operations manager, you would oversee the operational activities of an organization that provides a service, produces a product or distributes a product.


To get into this field, you’ll likely need a combination of relevant experience and education, which will help you learn the proper skills.



Education You’ll Need

Most employers will want you to have a diploma or degree in a field related to operations or supply chain management. Some employers may even require a master’s degree, while others will not require formal education, provided you have a sufficient amount of professional experience.




Experience You’ll Need

There is no set path for becoming an operations manager. Some operations managers have a degree and not much work experience, while others have relatively little formal education but a lot of relevant experience…it all depends on if the employer thinks you’ll be a good fit based on your combination of experience and education.


In general however, many employers prefer if you have some professional experience working in the field in which they operate, or experience in a management or operational capacity…or some combination thereof.



Skills You’ll Need to Succeed

You’ll need a few important traits (gained from schooling and/or work experience) if you are going to be successful in shaping the effectiveness and efficiency of a business’s processes and operations:



Human Capital: Being successful as an operations manager is much easier if you understand that employees are a valuable resource. It’s made even easier if you can effectively provide thoughtful and constructive feedback to employees, and listen to their ideas and concerns.


Panoramic 'Vision': In order to truly be a master of managing the input and output of your company’s resources, you’ll need to make sure the focus remains on the general organizational objective, rather than the narrow focus of different department and division goals.


Focus on Quality: Being able to recognize that an investment in quality improvement ultimately drives down internal and external failure costs if key for long-term success. As a bonus, if you expect quality, it helps to inspire employees to strive to meet your expectations.


Supply Chain Management: Your key objective will be to to design and execute supply chain strategies that maximize productivity, minimize risk and effectively respond to fluctuations in demand. You’ll have to be knowledgeable in manufacturing, warehousing, logistics and transportation as well as customer service.


Leadership: A healthy and motivated team is crucial to operational success. You must be able to consistently encourage top performers to perform at their peak, and find ways to bring under-performers up to standards.



What You’d be Doing: General Job Description

We've covered the nuts and bolts of how to get into this field, but what will you actually be doing when you get there? Well, as an operations manager, you would be responsible for overseeing the activities and personnel within an organization that are directly related to providing a service, producing a product or distributing a product.




General Job Duties

Although the functions you would perform could vary from job to job, tasks you would be responsible for performing might include:


• Performing inventory control and distribution

• Managing the movement of goods into and out of production (logistics)

• Forecasting future demand for product or service

• Implementing and managing quality assurance programs

• Designing and implementing the processes by which goods are produced or services are provided

• Implementing and managing quality assurance measures

• Creating an efficient layout for storage and production facilities

• Creating productivity measures and using them to improve efficiency

• Preparing employee schedules

• Communicating with employees and supervisors, including listening to their ideas and concerns



What Kind of Salary Can You Earn?

The salary level you could earn as an operations manager can vary, typically depending on the following factors:


• Your professional qualifications (education, experience, etc.)

• The size and budget of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The industry in which you work

• The scope of your job duties


Operations Manager Salary - Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of Canadians working in the Manufacturing Managers occupational group is $77,300 per year.


Operations Manager Salary - United Kingdom: According to the National Careers Service, Starting salaries for new Supply Chain Managers can be from £20,000 to £25,000 a year, while experienced managers can earn between £25,000 and £45,000.


Operations Manager Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of Americans working in the General and Operations Managers occupational group (which includes Facilities Managers) is $117,200 per year.


Please Note: With “Operations Manager” being such a broad and general term, it is very difficult to pinpoint exact salary figures. Please take these figures as a guideline only.



Get Your Degree!

Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.

Powered by Campus Explorer


Work Environment

Working Hours: As an operations manager, you'd likely work regular, weekday working hours. It wouldn't be rare to find yourself going into work early, staying late, or going in on weekends in order to complete tasks and projects, or attend meetings, conferences, or other events.


Work Setting: Your work would be office-based, possibly located within a warehouse, production facility, or other commercial or industrial space. You might travel to attend meetings and conferences, or to visit your company’s local, regional, national, and international offices, or branches.


Work Conditions: One downside of this work, would be that it your work would be very demanding and stressful because of the intense pressure to succeed. If you find yourself working for a poorly performing organization, you may find your job in jeopardy.



Career Advancement Opportunities

Displaying competence and a good work ethic can put you in a great position to advance your career. Some career advancement options you might have include:


• An increase in salary and other forms of compensation, such as bonuses

• Becoming self-employed as a management consultant

• Moving into the role of Chief Operating Officer (COO) or Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

• Taking on a similar role in another company, or moving to a smaller company that has better opportunities for partnership or ownership



Careers Similar to ‘Operations Manager’

Listed below are occupations in our database that have similar responsibilities, and/or require similar skills, or are in the same sector of industry, as Operations Manager:


• Chief Operating Officer (COO)

• City Manager

• Entrepreneur

• Industrial Engineer

• Maintenance Manager

• Operations Analyst

• Project Manager




Information for this career guide was compiled from the websites listed below. Some information has also been compiled from actual job postings from various organizations, which cannot be listed here due to the brief nature of their online availability.


Occupations in Alberta:Operations Manager.” (January 28, 2013). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 6, 2020.

Management:General and Operations Managers.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 6, 2020.

Business Leadership:5  Management Traits of an Operations Manager.” (n.d.). The University of Scranton website. Retrieved January 6, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming an Operations Manager

The “Applicable Majors” section below shows fields of study relevant to a career as an operations manager. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming an Operations Manager: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the college/university majors listed below can be helpful for becoming an operations manager. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


Top Banner Image: