Operations Specialist Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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Learn about a career as an operations specialist. Get job description, salary and education requirement information. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a career in an operations specialty.
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Careers as an Operations Specialist

Operations specialists are involved in every level of most organizations and are typically responsible for allocating resources, creating schedules, managing daily operations and training staff. There are many ways to enter to the field of operations, including careers as an operations research analyst, a general and operations manager or chief operating officer (COO). You can learn more here:

Operations Research Analyst General & Operations Manager Chief Operating Officer
Career Overview Operations research analysts use statistical and database software to analyze data and solve organizational issues. General and operations managers plan, direct and manage the daily operations of a company. Top executives, such as chief operating officers, oversee the operational activities of an organization and develop policies.
Education Requirement Bachelor's degree required, but master's degree preferred Bachelor's degree required, but master's degree preferred Bachelor's degree required, but master's degree preferred
Program Length 4-6 years, including the master's degree 4-6 years, including the master's degree 4-6 years, including the master's degree
Certification None Voluntary professional certification is available Voluntary professional certification is available
Experience Requirement Entry-level, although those employed by the military are often veterans Lower level managerial experience Extensive managerial experience
Job Outlook for 2014-2024 27,600 additional jobs expected (30% increase)* 151,100 additional jobs expected (7% increase)* 146,600 additional jobs expected for all top executives (6% increase)*
Median Salary $78,630 in 2015* $97,730 in 2015* $135,653 in 2016**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), PayScale.com

Operations Research Analyst

The role of an operations research analyst is to analyze and solve business problems related to an organization's daily activities. Typical duties include defining problems, collecting and organizing information, examining data through statistical analysis and writing reports that can offer management effective solutions. Many work on teams to solve complex problems, and often collaborate with an organization's staff to ensure that programs are properly implemented. Professionals rely heavily on statistical tools, databases and computer software.

Requirements

Professionals with a bachelor's degree can obtain entry-level positions, although employers may prefer to hire applicants with a master's degree in operations management or management science. Some operations research analysts hold degrees in related fields, such as physics, computer science, mathematics and engineering. Courses in computer science, calculus, political science and economics are highly recommended and can offer greater job prospects within this multidisciplinary field. Continuing education courses focused on software, technology and analytical tools are also highly valuable in this field. In addition, government agencies may prefer to hire candidates who have served in the U.S. Military.

In December 2012, some employers of operations research analysts were looking for the following:

  • In Philadelphia, an independent not-for-profit organization focused on the healthcare industry wants to hire an operations research analyst. Candidates must have a master's degree, as well as 3-5 years of work experience focused on technical and project management. Excellent communication skills, a strong background in data management and the ability to analyze complex data is required.
  • A systems engineering, technical and managed services company in Arizona wants to hire a Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) operations research analyst with Active Secret clearance and three years of experience. A bachelor's degree is necessary, and candidates that have completed courses in operations research, statistics, physics-based mathematics and probability are preferred.
  • In Arizona, an aerospace and defense company wants to hire a testing and evaluation operations research analyst with information technology (IT) experience. Three levels of positions are available, and a degree in operations research, a physics-based mathematics, simulation or engineering modeling is required. The first level for an associate operations research analyst requires at least 60 semester hours of formal education and three years of related work experience. Candidates must have U.S. government security clearance, Lean Six Sigma certification and an understanding of the military IT infrastructure.

Standing Out

Technological advances are occurring nearly every day and it has become easier for companies to obtain and manage data. This could mean that companies want operations research analysts to help them stay up-to-date on the latest advances. You should gain proficiency with analytical software, and participate in continuing education courses to sharpen your technological skills. In addition, a graduate certificate or degree in either management science or operations research could help you stand out in this field.

General and Operations Manager

General and operations managers are responsible for a variety of operational activities, such as working with human resources to assign work and set staff schedules. General duties include obtaining and analyzing company information, coordinating staff activities, communicating with clients and supervisors, maintaining interpersonal relationships and monitoring a company's progress. Professionals use various types of software to achieve goals, such as those designed for accounting, customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP).

Requirements

Operations managers typically need a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as business administration or the liberal arts. However, some people without a college degree can advance to a position as an operations manager through work experience and promotions offered within the company. Lower level managerial experience is necessary to advance to this role within an organization, especially when hired from outside of that company's ranks.

In December 2012, some employers of general and operations managers were looking for the following:

  • A transportation company in Tennessee wants to hire an operations manager with computer skills and experience with Microsoft Office Suites. In addition, applicants must be at least 25 years old, have a clean driving record and be able to pass a background check. Applicants must not have any visible tattoos, non-conservative hairstyles or multiple body piercings.
  • A distribution center in New Jersey wants to hire an operations manager to oversee several operation locations. Candidates must have 5-10 years' experience working in logistics operation management with a focus on healthcare, pharmaceuticals or medical devices. A bachelor's degree is required, although a master's degree is preferred.
  • In South Carolina, an event planning and rental services firm wants to hire an operations manager to direct full-time and seasonal staff. Duties include managing delivery logistics, establishing inventory control, collaborating with staff to customize events and improving the quality of available services. Applicants must have a degree in management or business, experience with high touch service industries and project management skills.

Standing Out

To stand out as a general and operations manager, you should consider gaining an advanced degree and becoming certified. In addition, strong leadership and communication skills are essential for this job. Being that educational requirements vary for this role, you should gain relevant work experience through internships and entry-level positions. You should also take advantage of company training and executive development programs. You may consider obtaining the voluntary Certified Manager (CM) designation, which is offered by the Institute of Certified Professional Managers and requires the successful completion of three examinations.

Chief Operating Officer

Top executives, such as chief operating officers, must ensure that a business or organization achieves strategic goals by overseeing and directing operational activities. In addition, these chief executives supervise the activities of other staff to ensure that the company is functioning effectively on a daily basis. General duties for all top executives include establishing organizational policies, overseeing budgetary activities, consulting with board members, approving contracts, appointing managers, analyzing performance indicators and identifying ways to improve.

These jobs can be stressful, and many often feel an intense pressure to be successful in these prestigious and highly paid roles. Many travel often to visit offices, meet clients and attend meetings. Long hours are common, although some executives are able to set their own schedules.

Requirements

Top executives are required to possess a bachelor's degree, although a master's degree is preferred. Typical undergraduate degree programs involve the study of business, the liberal arts or public administration; however, it is common for professionals to have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. In addition, chief executives must have extensive work experience to qualify for these positions.

In December 2012, some employers of COOs were looking for the following:

  • A health services company in Michigan wants to hire a COO to lead staff and ensure that day-to-day operations are effective. Candidates must have a master's degree in health systems administration and at least five years of work experience in the healthcare industry, with at least two years spent working in a federally funded community health center. Experience with budgets, strategic planning, community relations and financial management is preferred.
  • In Connecticut, an IT services company wants to hire a COO for the IT Project Management Office. Responsibilities include supporting the head of the department, assessing team morale, assisting with recruiting and developing meeting materials. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree with at least seven years of work experience in infrastructure technology and three years of experience in project management. Strong problem-solving, communication, presentation and interpersonal skills are necessary, and professional certification is preferred.
  • A gaming operations firm in New York wants to hire a COO to implement the company's strategic plans, oversee all operations and develop the executive staff. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age, have a bachelor's or master's degree in business and have 10-15 years of experience in casino gaming and hotel executive management.

Standing Out

To stand out as a top executive, you could become certified and earn an advanced degree related to operations management or business administration. In addition, by participating in executive development and company training programs, you could demonstrate competency in your field to managers and improve your job prospects. Strong leadership skills are essential, and you should begin gaining valuable work experience early through internships.

Some professionals hold the Certified Manager (CM) credential provided by the Institute of Certified Professional Managers. If you meet the educational and experience requirements, you will need to pass three examinations to earn this designation.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. George Mason University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration: Business Analytics Specialization
      • Master of Business Administration
    Certificate
      • Business Analytics Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. American InterContinental University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin: Operations Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Project Management
      • Master of Business Admin: Management
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Project Management
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Operations Management
      • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
      • Bachelor of Business Administration - Generalist
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Saint John's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Keiser University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration - Management (Spanish)
    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Business Admin: Management
      • Business Administration, BA - Management
    Associate's
      • Associate of Arts - Accounting
    Certificate
      • Grad Business Certificate - Management and Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Management - Global Leadership (Executive Format)
      • Doctor of Management (DM) - General Concentration (Executive Format)
      • Doctorate: Management - Organizational Development and Change
      • Doctor of Management - Project Management
      • Doctor - Management - Nonprofit Leadership
    Master's
      • MBA: Operations Management
      • MBA: Project Management
      • Master: Management - Project Management
      • Master of Business Admin
      • Master: Management
      • Master of Business Admin - Entrepreneurship
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Project Management
      • BS - Business Administration - Management
      • BS - Business Administration - Project Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Business Development
      • BS - Business Administration - General
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science in Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    6. The University of Scranton

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Operations Management
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Dual MBA-MHA
    Certificate
      • Supply Chain Management Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    7. University of Delaware

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration
      • Master of Business Administration - Custom/General
      • Master of Business Administration - Multiple Concentrations
      • Master of Business Administration - Strategic Leadership
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Project Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Project/Technology Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Management and Project Management
      • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
    Associate's
      • Associate of Science - Business Management
      • Associate of Science - Business Studies
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • DBA - Management
    Master's
      • MBA and MS in Leadership (Dual Degree)
      • MBA: Leadership
      • MS in Leadership
      • M.B.A. with an Emphasis in Project Management
      • Master of Science in Business Analytics
      • MBA
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • BS in Applied Management
      • BS in Entrepreneurial Studies
      • Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Analytics
      • BS in Business Admin.
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Seton Hall University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Administration
    Certificate
      • Certificate: Post Conflict State Reconstruction and Sustainability

Featured Schools

George Mason University

  • Master of Business Administration: Business Analytics Specialization
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Business Analytics Certificate

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

  • Master of Business Admin: Operations Management
  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Project Management
  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

Are you a US citizen?

Saint John's University

  • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Master of Business Administration - Management (Spanish)
  • B.A. - Business Admin: Management
  • Associate of Arts - Accounting
  • Grad Business Certificate - Management and Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management - Global Leadership (Executive Format)
  • MBA: Operations Management
  • Bachelor: Project Management
  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

Are you a US citizen?

The University of Scranton

  • MBA - Operations Management
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Supply Chain Management Certificate

What is your highest level of education?

University of Delaware

  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Business Administration - Custom/General
  • Master of Business Administration - Multiple Concentrations

What is your highest level of education completed?

Herzing University

  • MBA
  • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Associate of Science - Business Management

What is your highest level of education?