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What is an operations manager? Description, salaries & more

Operations manager leading a team in an office
Operations manager leading a team in an office

An efficient business can meet deadlines, outpace competitors and adapt to market changes appropriately. To foster the highest level of efficiency possible within an organization, however, many companies depend on operations management.

Whether you’re pursuing a business degree or scaling a company, find out more about how operations management helps enhance an organization’s productivity by satisfying customers, improving revenue and gaining an edge over other businesses in a market.

Give yourself the advantage of a versatile degree with one of our business degree options!

What does an operations manager do?

Operations managers work to implement management practices that can help companies innovate. As an operations manager, you will likely be responsible for developing and implementing processes that improve efficiency in your workplace.

The responsibilities of an operations manager can include the following:

  • Production
  • Quality assurance
  • Legal compliance
  • Employee hiring and onboarding
  • Ongoing employee training
  • Customer service
  • Project management
  • Budget management
  • Warehouse management

Where do operations managers work?

Operations managers can work in a variety of industries. As a result, you might work in many different locations as an office manager. Your exact location will typically depend on the nature of your employment.

You might work in the following industries:

  • Warehousing and storage
  • International business
  • Construction
  • Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Government
  • Education

Many operations managers work on-site at their employer’s place of business. You might have an office in a warehouse or an office environment, where you can maintain proximity to other employees or team members. You might also work in a company’s human resources department, given its involvement in new employee hiring and training.

In certain cases, you might be able to work remotely as an operations manager. As long as you have access to communication tools and a stable internet connection, you can draft and implement effective operations policies from a distance. However, even remote operations managers usually need to visit the office periodically to connect with other team members and get a closer look at business operations.

Skills needed for operations management

Operations managers regularly depend on a variety of skills to help them streamline efficiency in the workplace. Strong communication and organization skills allow an operations manager to create, implement and optimize processes that improve a company’s workflows.

The ideal candidate for an operations management position might possess or develop the following skills:

  • Technological proficiency — You’ll use computers, phones, information dashboards and other technologies to optimize the efficiency of your organization’s operations.
  • Public speaking — You’ll frequently address employees, vendors, stakeholders, executives and other internal company representatives involved in current business operations.
  • Instruction — You might need to teach company employees how they can improve daily habits in ways that bolster efficiency and productivity.
  • Data analysis and reporting — Whether it’s purchasing totals, costs, customer behavior metrics or other data, you’ll analyze metrics to identify ways that your company can further improve operations.
  • Risk analysis — You’ll also assess the current state of your company’s operations, identifying any potential risks or challenges the organization could face as a result of current procedures.
  • Problem-solving — You’ll regularly depend on problem-solving skills, pairing market challenges with unique solutions that drive success and satisfy stakeholders.
  • Product optimization — You might inform product design, simplify workflows, oversee quality control or manage production budgets to optimize the way your organization creates and offers products or services.

As an aspiring operations manager, you might find that you don’t possess all these skills. That’s perfectly fine. Over time, you can learn to develop them through training and practice.

You can also build your skill set as an operations manager through ongoing education, including earning a business degree. Many of the skills you’ll need as an operations manager are also in-demand skills among MBA graduates.

Read how one UOPX alumnus used his business degree to reach new heights in the aerospace industry.

How to become an operations manager

Becoming an operations manager is a process that can take time, effort and financial investment. To assume a role as an operations manager, you’ll likely need to fulfill the necessary education requirements in addition to any required certifications.

Education

You might take your first step toward an operations manager position by pursuing a business degree. You can enhance your operations management education by obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Management degree, for example, or a degree in a closely related field.

Aspiring operations managers could also elect to pursue an industry-respected Bachelor of Science in Business degree with an Operations Management Certificate.

Depending on your needs — and competition in the operations management market — you might want to continue your studies by obtaining a master’s degree. A Master of Management degree equips you for a position as an operations manager and teaches skills in operations, strategic planning and leadership.

Alternatively, you could complete an online MBA program before you begin a career as a business manager, a financial analyst or an operations manager.

Although becoming an operations manager can take time, upon completion of your education, you’ll be able to put your MBA to work improving your community, market or organization of choice.

Certifications and licensure

In addition to the required education, you may need to obtain one or more third-party certifications before you can become an operations manager. Operations management certifications provide education in particular operations fields. They allow you to deepen your knowledge of inventory management, service operations and other fields.

To become an operations manager, you may need to complete one or more of the following industry certifications:

  • Certified Operations Manager (COM®) — As a certified operations manager, you’ll implement strategies in product forecasting, service strategy, decision-making and operations taught by the renowned American Institute for Business Management and Communication.
  • Certified Association Executive (CAE) — Offered by the Center for Association Leadership, this certification identifies an individual who is qualified to lead an organization through challenges facing today’s markets.
  • Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt™ (ICGB™) — You’ll earn ICGB licensure after instruction from the International Association for Six Sigma Certification. This certification teaches you to implement the DMAIC phases: define, measure, analyze, improve and control.
  • Project Management Professional (PMP®) — Learn high-quality project leadership, management and optimization skills through a PMP certification offered through the Project Management Institute®.

These and other certifications may help polish your understanding of effective business and help to further qualify you for a professional operations management role.

Operations manager salaries

Your exact income as an operations manager will depend on a variety of factors. Your employer, employer’s size, years of experience, education and certifications can all affect your overall salary.

Salaries of operations managers ranged from $45,850 to $208,000 in May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The top 25% of operations managers earned upward of $161,190, while the bottom 25% of operations managers earned $67,450 or less. Region and industry can have a significant influence on pay and earning potential, as different fields and organizations have different needs and offer differing opportunities.

The salary ranges are not specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website.

Operations manager job outlook

Operations managers should enjoy a favorable job outlook over the next decade. Demand for operations managers is expected to increase roughly 9% from 2020 to 2030, which is as fast as average across all occupations.

As the American workforce matures and current employees retire, some operations manager positions are expected to become available. This trend will allow younger individuals to assume roles as operations managers.

Is becoming an operations manager right for you?

There are many career paths to choose from once you obtain a business degree. Finding the right career path isn’t always easy, particularly when you’re passionate about several different markets. Fortunately, it’s not a decision you need to make immediately.

Instead, you can first take steps toward your optimal career path when you choose the right college program. Find an educational institution that speaks to your interests and needs, one that focuses on helping you achieve your career goals. Look for programs taught by experienced industry leaders who offer the right combination of flexibility and accountability to encourage personal growth.

After you’ve completed your education, you'll have time to consider potential career options. If you’re someone with a communicative skill set, and you want to help one or more organizations improve their output, the role of an operations manager may just be an ideal fit for you.