What Are the Pros and Cons of an Operations Manager Career?
Operations managers plan and coordinate daily and long-term operations of organizations and companies. Read the pros and cons of becoming an operations manager to find out if this is the right career for you.
|Pros of Working as an Operations Manager|
|High salary (median annual salary of about $97,000 in 2014)*|
|Average employment growth (eleven percent projected from 2012-2022)*|
|Can work in many different industries*|
|A bachelor's degree is sufficient for most positions*|
|Opportunity to advance to board positions*|
|Cons of Working as an Operations Manager|
|Job market is very competitive*|
|Job can be stressful*|
|May require long hours*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Essential Career Information
Operations managers oversee the daily operations of a business or organization. Professionals in this field may be responsible for an entire organization, or they may be in charge of a particular department. In smaller organizations, operations managers may assume many other executive-level responsibilities. As an operations manager, some of your daily job duties could include managing staff, reviewing financial statements, planning business activities and overseeing production. You could also be responsible for writing departmental policies, managing human capital, implementing sales promotions and locating merchandise to resell.
The BLS reported that operations managers earned a median annual salary of about $97,000 in May 2014. According to the BLS, the top earners in this profession made upwards of about $149,000 that year, while the bottom ten percent of operations managers made about $45,000 per year or less. Commodities exchanges, financial investment and securities brokering firms, investment firms and scientific research companies offered the highest salaries for operations managers.
According to the BLS, operations managers are expected to experience employment growth of about eleven percent between 2012 and 2022, which was about as fast as average. Additionally, there is a low turnover rate in this field. The industries with the highest levels of employment for operations managers as of 2014 were enterprise management, local government, computer systems design, technical consulting services and restaurants.
You can qualify to become an operations manager with only a bachelor's degree, such as a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with a concentration in operations management or an undergraduate degree in a related field, like accounting, finance or general management. These 4-year programs generally include courses in accounting, human resources management, team leadership and finance. You also might take classes in managerial accounting, corporate finance and business law.
Operations managers must be able to communicate clearly and be good decision makers. They must also be able to lead teams of people and evaluate their performance. Because accounting and financial responsibilities are important in this position, operations managers should be good with numbers. Other valuable skills include communication skills and social perceptiveness.
While you can get this job with a bachelor's degree, some employers prefer job candidates with a master's degree. Additionally, because this is an upper-level management position that requires an in-depth knowledge of a specific industry, successful applicants usually have management experience or experience working in a specific industry. The following are a few examples of real job postings from May 2012.
- A human resources staffing company was looking to fill a Midwest opening for a business development and operations manager in either Missouri or Ohio. A bachelor's degree was preferred for the position, and ten or more years of experience was required.
- A hospital in Georgia had an opening for a business operations manager who would be responsible for observing and improving multiple departments. A bachelor's degree in a subject like finance, accounting or business administration was required, as was 3-7 years of experience.
- A clothing and textile manufacturer in New York was looking a business operations manager to plan, coordinate and execute production. A bachelor's degree and at least three years of experience were required, and a master's degree was preferred.
How to Beat the Competition
If you want to stand out among other job applicants, you could pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in operations management or another relevant specialty area, such as human resources management, marketing management or finance. An MBA program typically takes 2-3 years to complete.
You also might join a professional organization, such as the American Management Association (AMA), which could help you develop in your career as well as provide job search services. Additionally, you might consider certification through the Institute of Certified Professional Managers, which offers the Certified Manager credential. Certification could help you demonstrate your competency to future employers.
Computer and Information Systems Manager
If you like computers and want to work in a field with more growth potential, consider pursuing a career as a computer and information systems manager. In this position, you would direct the technical operations of an organization, including planning, directing and implementing new computer and software systems. You might be able to get this job with a bachelor's degree and a few years of work experience. In 2011, the BLS reported that computer and information systems managers earned a median annual salary of about $118,000 a year. Jobs in this field were forecast to grow 18% between 2010 and 2020.
Another career with higher projected employment growth and a higher salary than operations manager is financial manager. Financial managers oversee the financial goals and activities of an organization. This job generally requires a bachelor's degree in finance or business and sufficient work experience. In 2011, the BLS reported that financial managers earned a median annual salary of about $107,000 a year. Jobs for financial managers were expected to grow nine percent from 2010-2020.