How to Become a Service Operations Manager: Career Guide

Research the requirements to become a service operations manager. Learn about the job description and duties, and explore the step-by-step process to start a career in operations management. View article »

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  • 0:00 Should I Become a…
  • 1:23 Step 1: Consider…
  • 2:37 Step 2: Gain Work Experience
  • 3:28 Step 3: Pursue…

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Service Operations Manager?

Service operations managers, also known simply as operations managers, oversee all aspects of a service-oriented business. Typical job goals for operations managers include making sure that the business is running efficiently and maximizing profits. Duties include such tasks as hiring, training and supervising employees, as well as developing and approving budgets and organizational policies. These employees are responsible for ensuring that services are delivered in a timely fashion and overseeing various aspects of marketing.

Operations managers spend time in an office setting, although specific work environments may vary by industry. Operations managers in restaurants, for example, may jump into the kitchen during the dinner rush, while managers in retail stores may work directly with customers at times. Like other executive positions, operations managers work full-time and often go into overtime. Management positions can be very stressful, but are known for being well compensated. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, general and operations managers earned an average salary of $119,460 as of May 2015. Now let's walk through the steps you can take to become a service operations manager.

Step 1: Consider Earning a College Degree

Although it isn't a strict requirement to gain employment, a college degree can offer aspiring managers greater job and advancement opportunities. Earning an associate's degree may offer some increased job opportunities, but many employers now prefer hiring service operations managers with a bachelor's degree.

Since service operations managers may work in a variety of fields, there isn't a single educational path for this career. In general, however, earning a bachelor's degree in business administration or management will offer a strong foundation of knowledge and skills needed for a successful career in business management. Typical courses include human resource management, operations management, marketing, strategy, and business policy.

Success Tip:

Complete an internship while earning a degree. Most degree programs include an internship in the curriculum, offering an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field while still in school. It's also a good chance to begin building a resume, gathering references and opening the door for employment after graduation. An alternative to an internship is having a summer job in a business environment, which provides another way of gaining career-related experience.

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Step 2: Gain Work Experience

After graduating from a degree program, earning relevant work experience is an important step on the path to becoming a service operations manager. Most employers prefer at least five years of experience in the industry, such as in an entry-level position as wait staff, bartender, hotel desk clerk or cashier. Such hands on experience helps aspiring managers gain communication, organization and time-management skills. During this time, service employees work under direct supervision and gain increasing independence and responsibilities to advance to a management position.

During your time gaining experience in the industry, take the opportunity to learn about departments outside your own. It can be helpful to cross train to give an idea of how the different departments interact, making you a more attractive management candidate.

Step 3: Pursue Professional Certification

Earning an optional certification may increase employment options and opportunities for professional advancement. Certification increases an individual's functional knowledge and demonstrates professional expertise. Professional organizations, such as the National Association of Safety Professionals, offer the Certified Safety Manager credential, which requires completion of a course covering topics like training methodologies, accident and injury liability, accident investigation and safety audits.

Additionally, the American Institute for Business Management and Communication offers the Certified Operations Manager credential, which requires passage of a certifying examination.

Most certifications need to be renewed periodically. Although the requirements for renewing certification vary, most organizations require individuals to complete continuing education or professional development to maintain certification.

A career as a service operations manager generally requires a college degree, ideally in business administration or management, as well as industry experience.

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