Most employers require operation managers to have some form of college education. While an associate's degree is sometimes accepted, a bachelor's degree in business or some aspect of logistics is often the preferred, if not required, degree. Many of these programs are offered online.
Of equal importance is experience in the industrial and manufacturing sector and in management. Individuals interested in becoming operations managers need experience with labor management. They are usually required to have knowledge of laws and policies affecting industrial operations, such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations.
Associate's Degree in Business Administration
This two-year degree is often conferred as an Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration degree with an operations management concentration. Students learn about personnel management, safety laws, quality assurance and production planning. They also take general business courses in management and economics. Some other course topics might include:
- Rhetoric and composition
- Intro to business information systems
- Effective speech
- Financial and managerial accounting for decision making
- Elementary statistics
Bachelor's Degree in Supply Chain Management
Undergraduate students interested in an operations career can earn a Bachelor of Science degree in supply chain management or a Bachelor of Business Administration with an operations management concentration. These programs take four years to complete and combine general education requirements with core coursework. Students gain a foundation in business with courses such as:
- Business law
- Project management
- Cost management
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that general and operations managers made a median annual salary of $97,730 as of May 2015. The employment for these managers from 2014 to 2024 is expected to grow 7%, according to the BLS.
Continuing Education Information
Because technology is always changing, operations managers need to stay up-to-date on their knowledge of industry software programs, such as Six Sigma. They may take online tutorials or classes in order to refresh their skills or learn new applications.
Operations managers can also continue their education by participating in industry conferences and seminars, which last between one and three days. There are also local chapters of popular organizations that offer series of workshops, which can last 5-7 sessions and generally include several hours of training per session. Industry websites often offer webinars and videos about topics such as lean enterprise, customer care, leadership and labor force training.
Additionally, certification options are available to those in the field. The Association for Operations Management (www.apics.org) offers industry designations, such as the Certified Supply Chain Professional or Certified in Production and Inventory Management credentials. In order to qualify for certification, applicants must pass all portions of a 5-part exam. Once certification is earned, continuing education requirements are needed in order to recertify every five years.
Graduates from an associate's degree program in business administration may qualify for some operations manager positions, but most employers are looking for applicants with a bachelor's degree in a business field, such as a Bachelor of Science in Supply Chain Management or a Bachelor of Business Administration.