How to Become a Production Supervisor: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a production supervisor. Research the education requirements, and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in production supervision.

Should I Become a Production Supervisor?

Production supervisors manage the efficiency of a crew of individuals, often in a factory or industrial environment, to manufacture a product. They typically oversee the daily operations of a facility and monitor the workers and products through a combination of office work and direct production floor supervision. Depending on the job, some production supervisors might work at night or on weekends; some are on-call to address production problems that might arise. Production supervisors may need good communication skills if their department needs to work collaboratively.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Business administration, industrial engineering or a comparable discipline
Certification Voluntary certification is available
Experience 2-5 years typically required
Key Skills Communication, leadership, problem-solving, time-management
Salary (2014) $55,520 yearly (median for all first-line supervisors of production and operating workers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Get an Education

Several paths may lead to employment as a production supervisor, but obtaining a college degree might make finding employment as a first-line supervisor easier. While having any bachelor's degree may be helpful in finding employment, obtaining a bachelor's degree in an area such as business administration, industrial technology or management is likely appeal to most employers. These degree programs typically include coursework in computer-aided design (CAD), occupational safety, and electronics technology.

While only having a high school education may get someone into certain areas of a production facility, such as working on a manufacturing line or as a machine setter, a college degree typically affords prospective employees more opportunities versus those without a degree. In this regard, employers may allow production supervisors who hold college degrees to advance to managerial roles later on.

Success Tip:

  • Complete an internship. Many undergraduate degree programs offer an internship option to students. Internships allow students to apply classroom knowledge to hands-on experiences and prepare them for the workplace.

Step 2: Gain Experience

Gaining employment and becoming familiar with the various types of equipment, processes, and people within a facility is necessary to become a production supervisor. Most employers will require employees to have at least two to five years of on-the-job experience in order to be considered for production supervisor positions. According to the BLS, some companies may also offer sponsored classes to aid in promotion.

Step 3: Develop People and Computer Skills

Some of these skills can be obtained through college degree programs or individual courses, and demonstrating strong computer and interpersonal skills are essential to career success as a production supervisor. While supervising and directing people, the ability to negotiate, persuade others, and communicate effectively is paramount.

While courses may provide methods to learn about these traits, only by actively utilizing and developing these skills are they likely to improve. Demonstrating poise under pressure and compassion for others in stressful situations can go a long way to making someone better as a production supervisor. These traits are likely to serve someone well in a multitude of career areas or advanced production positions as well.

Step 4: Obtain Certification for Career Advancement

Although certification may not be required, obtaining professional certification demonstrates the employee's commitment to the field and her or his competency in areas of production and management to employers. The American Society for Quality (ASQ) and the Association for Operations Management (APICS) are two organizations that offer certification for production supervisors. Testing may involve topics like production operations or resource planning.

A combination of education and experience may be required in order to take the exams. Since maintaining certification may require achieving certain professional development criteria, some of these certifications can also be used to bolster promotion opportunities into managerial positions or potentially transferring into bigger or more complex operations.

Success Tip:

  • Continue education. Many certifications require holders to apply for recertification every few years. To recertify, you may be required to complete continuing education credits or pass an examination.

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