Career Information for a Degree in Operations Management

Degrees in operations management typically cover theories and techniques that can be applied in order to manage a business at its best efficiency. Find out about the curricula of these programs and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for operations management graduates.

There are a number of careers that pertain to the field of operations manager. All of these call for at least a bachelor's degree. Projections for employment opportunities are also somewhat varied.

Degree in Operations Management

Essential Information

In addition to managing a business operation, individuals can also pursue careers in management consulting or industrial production management. A bachelor's degree in operations management is the minimum education needed. Some job positions will also require a master's degree and possibly a good amount of work experience in a specific area such as manufacturing or healthcare. Certifications are also an option if interested in industrial production or management consultation or analysis.

Career Operations Mgr Indust.Production Mgr. Mgmt. Consultant
Education Requirements Bachelor's / Master's Bachelor's/Master's Bachelor's/Master's
Other Requirements Work Experience Work Experience Work Experience
Optional Certifications Varied Certifications Certified Management Consultant
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% -4% 14%
Median Salary (2015) $97,730 $93,940 $81,320

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Operations management uses an array of concepts and methods to maximize an organization's efficiency. Those pursuing careers in this field prepare themselves by enrolling in degree programs that teach these concepts and methods. There are, for example, bachelor's degree programs in operations management that include courses in such topics as project management, manufacturing planning, supply-chain management and quality control. Some employers require candidates to have advanced degrees, such as a master's degree in operations management. This degree program may include advanced coursework in statistical methods, strategic management and financial management.

In addition to formal education, some positions, such as management consultant, require considerable experience. Some employers require applicants to have experience in a particular industry or area of expertise, like manufacturing or healthcare. Operations management professionals may also seek professional certification. For example, an industrial-production manager may obtain the Certified Technology Manager designation, which is offered by the Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering .

Career Options

Obtaining a degree in operations management can lead to becoming an operations manager which involves coordinating and improving the activities of a variety of types of companies. Another career option is to pursue a career as an industrial production manager for a particular manufacturing organization. A third career possibility would be to become a management consultant, providing advice to companies on improving their operations.

Operations Manager

Operations managers coordinate the activities of business organizations. Specifically, they direct the production, pricing, sales and distribution of product or services and are responsible for overall operations improvement. Day-to-day duties may include setting hiring and training standards, establishing production and budget objectives, forecasting customer demand and meeting with managers from other departments.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment of operations managers was expected to grow about as fast as the average rate for all occupations from 2014-2024. Additionally, competition will be keen due to the substantial earnings and desirability of these positions. The median annual salary for operations managers was $97,730, according to a May 2015 BLS report.

Industrial Production Manager

Industrial production managers coordinate manufacturing elements, such as equipment layout, production methods, workflows and staffing, to maximize the efficiency of production-oriented businesses. They manage these operational elements and make adjustments to them to meet production, quality, safety and budget requirements. These managers modify production operations by introducing efficiency models, such as lean manufacturing methods and Six Sigma. Their time may be split between working on the production floor and in an office. They often coordinate with other managers, including budget managers, sales managers and supply-chain managers.

The BLS reports that, from 2014-2024, employment was expected to decline by four percent for industrial production managers. Employment in particular sectors is expected to grow fairly fast, while others are expected to decline. For example, in fabricated metal project manufacturing, jobs are expected to see growth of 7%, about the same as the national average for all occupations. In May 2015, the median annual salary for professionals in this field was $93,940.

Management Consultant

Management consultants advise businesses on how to maximize their efficiency. They accomplish this by understanding their clients' goals and identifying impediments to achieving those goals. Management consultants begin this process by immersing themselves in the clients' businesses and becoming familiar with their current practices. They then make recommendations to clients based on their analyses. Consultants might, for example, recommend that companies implement improved production methods or make strategic changes, such as selling off an unnecessary or under-performing business division.

The BLS reports that employment in this field was expected to increase by 14% from 2014-2024. May 2015 findings from the BLS showed that most management analysts, a group which includes management consultants, earned between $45,970 and $150,220, with the median annual salary coming in at $81,320.

A bachelor's degree may be enough to secure a job in any one of these three careers associated with operations management but, some employers may prefer that you hold a graduate degree. Previous applicable work experience can also be a requirement of some employees. The job outlook for some positions are expected to grow through 2024, but others, such as industrial production management, are projected to decline over the foreseeable future.

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