Director of Operations: Job Description & Requirements

Directors of operations require significant formal education. Learn about the degrees, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Essential Information

The director of operations, known in larger organizations as chief operations officer (COO), oversees the day-to-day activities of a company, usually at the direction of the chief executive. COOs must excel at delegating tasks and should demonstrate exceptional communication skills. A master's degree in business administration is a typical educational background for operations management officers.

Required Education Master's degree in business administration is the most common requirement
Other Requirements Significant related work experience
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 12% (for general and operations managers)*
Median Salary (2014) $84,044**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Job Description for a Director of Operations

A member of upper management, the director of operations ensures that a company's everyday activities run smoothly. These professionals often set parameters to judge how efficiently and effectively the organization is operating. Most of their time may be spent reviewing and evaluating business procedures ranging from office expenses to real estate assets. Accordingly, directors of operations may be responsible for overseeing the work of other upper-level management executives.

Duties for a Director of Operations

Duties for a director of operations vary considerably depending upon the company. For example, while most directors of operations oversee manufacturing, purchasing, and sales departments, some directors may also be responsible for targeting specific areas in which a company may need to improve operational efficiency. This may include monitoring revenue margins and worker productivity, as well as implementing new directives for growth. These professionals may also be responsible for setting guidelines for personnel evaluations, recruitment, and advancement.

Requirements for a Director of Operations

Aspiring directors of operations are generally required to have at least a bachelor's degree in business, finance, or a related field. Candidates may look to four-year colleges and universities to acquire training in these fields. Classes typically cover principles in accounting, taxation and asset allocation. Some programs may require students to take courses in organizational behavior, business management, and macroeconomics.

Master's Degree

While some employers may accept applicants who have significant experience in operations, others may prefer candidates who have also earned an advanced degree like a Master's in Business Administration (MBA). MBA programs usually last one to two years and delve into topics ranging from finance to healthcare administration. Students at this level may also specialize in specific industries or fields like energy or supply chain management.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

Depending on the size of the company and specific job duties, a director of operations might be categorized by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as an operations manager or a top executive. The employment of general and operations managers was projected to grow by 12% between 2012 and 2022, while top executives will see job opportunities increase by about the same amount.

The BLS noted that the median annual salary earned by general and operations managers was $96,430 in May 2013. According to PayScale.com in December 2014, directors of operations earned a median salary of $84,044.

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