Becoming a Director of Operations: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a director of operations career? Get real job descriptions, career outlook information and salary statistics to decide if a career as a director of operations is right for you.
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The Pros and Cons of a Director of Operations Career

Working as a director of operations or operations manager involves a wide range of responsibilities, and the job description can vary significantly depending on industry and organization. Keep reading to learn a bit more about the pros and cons of this career.

Pros of a Director of Operations Career
Lucrative salaries common (average annual salary of about $117,000 as of May 2014)*
Ability to make own decisions**
Flexibility in terms of organization type**
Ability to set own schedule*

Cons of a Director of Operations Career
Years of management experience needed***
Average job growth (About twelve percent from 2012-2022)*
Long hours may include nights and weekends*
Potential for high amounts of stress**
Significant travel may be required*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net Online, ***Job listings from December 2012

Essential Career Information

Job Description

In broad terms, a director of operations formulates and helps to carry out the goals and policies of an organization or department. Depending on the type of organization you work for, this might involve managing daily operations, planning the use of human resources, formulating staff schedules, assigning work to staff members and making sure that projects are completed properly. Directors of operations sometimes work with the budget of an organization, analyzing financial and productivity data in order to make improvements to organizational efficiency or finding ways to maximize profits.

Salary and Career Outlook Information

Overseeing the operations of an organization is usually a lucrative occupation; the BLS reports an average annual salary of about $117,000 for general and operations managers as of May 2014. The BLS expects average job growth for these types of positions over the coming years. Employment is expected to increase by twelve percent from 2012-2022. Candidates with advanced degrees will most likely have the best job prospects.

Requirements

You'll typically need at least a bachelor's degree to qualify for a director of operations position. A degree in business or public administration can be especially useful. Most employers also seek candidates with significant (seven or more years) work experience in management or in the specific type of business the company is involved in.

Communication skills are also crucial, because you'll need to be able to discuss complex issues, negotiate solutions to conflicts and direct subordinates clearly and effectively. The job also requires sharp decision-making skills and the ability to prioritize organizational goals.

What Are Employers Looking For?

If you have a business degree and related work experience, you might be able to find a position in a range of industries. A few job listings open as of December 2012 offer a glimpse of the current job market.

  • A financial company in Colorado is looking for a director of operations to lead and direct all activities related to healthcare self-pay accounts, patient follow-up and customer service. The position requires at least seven years of experience and a bachelor's degree.
  • An automotive technology company in Illinois seeks a director of operations to oversee manufacturing, supply chain and quality functions in North America, South America and Europe. The position calls for establishing metrics of performance evaluation and developing long-range objectives. A bachelor's degree and 15-20 years of experience are required.
  • An industrial distribution firm in Texas is looking for a director of operations to supervise promotion and customer service operations throughout southwest Texas. A bachelor's degree or ten years of experience is required for this position.

Standing Out in the Field

Individuals can set themselves apart in a competitive job market by earning an advanced degree such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA). A master's degree in public administration or a similar management field are also options. Having extensive and varied professional experience can also enhance your qualifications.

Certification can be a good option if you want to demonstrate your management acumen to potential employers. The Institute of Certified Professional Managers offers the Certified Manager (CM) credential to candidates who meet education and experience requirements and pass three exams.

Alternate Career Options

Administrative Services Manager

A career as an administrative services manager might be a good option if you have work experience but don't have a bachelor's degree. Administrative services managers plan and coordinate the supportive services of an organization, such as record keeping and facility maintenance. A high school diploma is typically sufficient for the position. The BLS projects average growth for these jobs in the near future, with overall employment expected to increase by 15% from 2010-2020. As of May 2011, the BLS reported an average annual salary of about $87,000 for administrative services managers.

Human Resources Manager

If you'd prefer to focus on administrative and staffing functions within an organization, a career as a human resources manager might be right for you. Human resources managers supervise recruiting of new employees and work to maximize the talents of an organization's workforce. You'll typically need a bachelor's degree, and some employers prefer to hire candidates with an advanced degree. The BLS projected 13% job growth for human resources managers from 2010-2020. A May 2011 report from the BLS indicated an average annual salary of about $109,000.

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Kaplan University

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George Mason University

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Full Sail University

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Georgetown University

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Johns Hopkins University

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Virginia College

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American University

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Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - Project Management
  • PhD in Business Admin - Project Management
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