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Project Manager Vs. Operations Manager

Project and operations managers both maintain the growth of a company and supervise employees. Compare their degree requirements, salaries, job growth projections, and main tasks.

Comparing Project Managers to Operations Managers

Both project managers and operations managers supervise daily activities. The former, however, usually works to coordinate the efforts of a design and development team, as well as the production staff, while the latter focuses on bringing cohesion and productivity goals to an organization.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Project Managers Bachelor's Degree $104,970 (Managers, all other) 8% (Managers, all other)
Operations Managers Bachelor's Degree $99,310 (General and Operations Managers) 9% (General and Operations Managers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Project Managers vs. Operations Managers

Project managers work to plan and maintain the momentum of a company's newest endeavor, including the creation of a new product or even launching a space station. Operations managers are concerned with how a company functions on a daily basis, including training new staff and planning the use of supplies. Both, however, create goals for the project or business that fits with the company's already established plan. Additionally, they may have to formulate a budget that covers materials, employees, and facilities.

Project Managers

Project managers meet with clients or company executives to establish the details and objectives of the project. To break the plan into milestones, they create diagrams that show how each step will lead to the finished product. The projects these managers supervise may end in deliverables such as films, vehicles, and even buildings. Project managers also develop a project proposal, which acts as a kind of contract between the stakeholders and the project team, as it identifies the schedule, resources, and deliverables. They must also prepare for setbacks, like trouble getting building permits or raw materials.

Job responsibilities of a project manager include:

  • Hiring a design and production team and assigning everyone a clear role
  • Learning what motivates each team member to encourage productivity, which may include pay bonuses or vacation time
  • Tracking the progress by observing what is complete and what still needs to be done
  • Informing stakeholders about any changes to the budget, resources, or schedule

Operations Managers

Operations managers develop policies that meet the business goals of the company. These guidelines can work to establish the overall culture of the workplace, of which the operations manager should be the model. Additionally, they hire employees who will add to the atmosphere and productivity. To keep the position of each employee clear, these managers often establish a job description and duties list for themselves. This also helps management see how different departments can be coordinated to work as a whole. When the workflow and procedures between departments need to be reworked, operations managers often suggest these changes to the executive management. Annual wages for these managers can vary widely, depending on the industry.

Job responsibilities of an operations manager include:

  • Disciplining employees who do not adhere to company rules and policies
  • Developing employee work schedules
  • Maintaining a working relationship with vendors and logistical operations
  • Evaluating employee performance and submitting annual raises

Related Careers

Because a career as a project manager caught your interest, perhaps a position as an industrial production manager could too, because both oversee the productivity of a company. If, however, it was a future as an operations manager that brought you here, maybe a position as an administrative manager could intrigue you, as both track employee workflow.


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