Process Improvement Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Learn about careers in process improvement. Get job descriptions, salary and education requirements information. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of a process improvement career.
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Pros and Cons of a Process Improvement Career

Process improvement professionals restructure the efficiency and service quality of an organization by way of redesigning or aligning one or more business processes within the company. Below is a table illustrating some characteristics of three careers, in which expertise in process improvement plays a part:

Logistician Industrial Production Manager Training and Development Manager
Career Overview People specializing in logistics are concerned with the analysis and operation of an organization's chain of supply. A production manager is the company officer with authority over the daily operation of all aspects related to manufacturing. Training and development managers ride herd over all aspects of the instruction and performance evaluation of an organization's employees.
Education Requirements Associate's or bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree Bachelor's or master's degree
Program Length 2-4 years, full-time 4 years, full-time 4-6 years, full time
Certification and Licensing Optional but may be helpful Optional but may be helpful Optional but may be helpful
Experience Required 1-5 years of work-related experience 2-5 years of work-related experience 1-5 years of work-related experience
Job Outlook for 2012-2022 Much faster than average (22%)* Little to no change (-2%)* As fast as average (11%)*
Median Annual Salary (2014) $73,870* $92,470* $101,930*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Logistician

Logisticians are intimately involved in the life cycle of a product from acquisition to distribution. Among the logistics specialist's responsibilities are creating and maintaining a healthy, productive relationship between the home company and the client. This includes the design and implementation of strategies, policies and tactics to minimize the time and cost of product delivery. These professionals also monitor and assess the processes involved to find ways to improve efficiency.

Requirements

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) mentions that you may be able to secure an entry-level position in logistics with only an associate's degree in an area such as logistics, business or engineering. However, you may find that many logisticians hold a bachelor's or master's degree. Some employers take qualifying work experience into consideration in lieu of some formal education. At any rate, employers generally insist on a certain amount of work experience before you can acquire a managerial position. Certification isn't officially required, but it can be helpful.

Below are examples of what some employers were looking for in January 2013:

  • A nationwide specialized procurement company was looking for candidates to fill a position as a logistician manager at a government facility in Georgia. Candidates were to hold a bachelor's degree in logistics or a related subject or have ten years of qualifying work experience, as well as have the Certified Professional Logistician (CPL) credential. At least four of the last ten years of experience were to have been in a military setting, and candidates were to sit for a government background check to qualify for access to classified material.
  • A professional staffing firm sought candidates for a position in supply chain/logistics for a company in Missouri. Candidates were to hold a degree in supply chain, logistics, operations, inventory management or business, having served an internship in logistics or supply chain. Candidates were to have qualifying job experience as well as familiarity with production planning and improving purchasing, inventory and delivery scheduling.
  • A Texas location for a national rental agency wanted to hire a supply chain/logistics manager. Candidates were to hold a bachelor's degree, though a master's degree was preferred. Candidates were to have accumulated at least five years of work experience in logistics and distribution. Job duties were to include the identification of opportunities for methodology improvement and the design and implementation of improved systems.

Standing Out

Though an associate's degree may qualify you for a position, you can stand out from the crowd by earning at least a bachelor's degree. A master's degree allows you to specialize and may distinguish you further. Voluntary professional certification can also help your employment and career advancement opportunities by standing as testimony to your education and commitment. Organizations like the International Society of Logistics and American Society of Transportation and Logistics administer certification examinations.

Industrial Production Manager

Overseeing the day-to-day operations of a manufacturing concern or similar industry is the main responsibility of industrial production managers. They plan and direct all activities necessary to turn out a specific product. They're responsible for analyzing the entire process and making the adjustments necessary to improve performances and meet production goals.

Requirements

The BLS states that most industrial production managers hold a bachelor's degree in an area such as industrial engineering or business administration. In order to secure a managerial position, you'll also need 2-5 years of experience in a manufacturing or production setting. Larger operations may require that you hold a master's degree in business administration or industrial management. You may also have to spend some time in a supervisory role, such as a first-line supervisor, before advancing to production manager. In this role, you may work directly with production and operations workers.

Here's what some employers were seeking in January 2013:

  • A Missouri engineering recruiting firm was seeking an industrial engineer. Candidates were to hold at least a bachelor's or master's degree in industrial engineering as well as have accumulated 2-5 years of experience in quality systems in a regulated industry. Candidates were to be familiar with Lean and Six Sigma methodologies.
  • An industry consulting firm in Virginia wanted to hire a process improvement project manager. Candidates were to hold a bachelor's degree or have equivalent work experience. Candidates were to have accumulated 4-5 years of process improvement/management work experience and be capable of using Six Sigma methodologies; Six Sigma Black Belt Certification was preferred.
  • A company in Ohio was looking for a management production supervisor. Candidates were to hold a bachelor's degree or have comparable work experience. Candidates were to have accumulated at least two years of management experience, preferably in an industrial setting. It was preferred that candidates have experience with Lean, Six Sigma, Kaizen or similar methodologies.

Standing Out

If you can arrange it, you may want to continue your education after earning your bachelor's degree and pursue an MBA or graduate degree in industrial engineering. Enrolling in company-sponsored classes can also be a positive career move. Though certification is optional, you may find that earning a credential can distinguish you from your competitors. If you meet education and experience requirements, you may qualify to sit for certification examinations administered by the Project Management Institute, the Association for Operations Management or the American Society for Quality.

Training and Development Manager

Responsible for the training and development of an organization's employees, training and development managers assess employees to determine if their training matches the organization's goals. These managers may also create a training program and budget. They constantly review and make adjustments to improve training methods and processes in order to generate optimum job performance from employees.

Requirements

A bachelor's degree should be sufficient for you to secure an entry-level position in training and development. However, you'll need some appropriate experience in a field related to training and development, such as teaching or human resources development. Prospective employers may also prefer that you have some work experience in their industry. You may find that you'll need a master's degree in an area such as training and development, business administration, human resources management or organizational development. You may also find that you'll need some experience in information technology.

Here are some placement ads that were running in January 2013:

  • A communications company in Ohio was seeking a manager for training and organizational development. It was preferred that candidates hold a bachelor's degree in business, education or human resources. Candidates were to have accumulated at least seven years leading and managing in the areas of training and organizational development.
  • A telecommunications company in Georgia was looking for a leadership development manager with a bachelor's degree in a learning-development field or comparable work experience. Candidates were to have accumulated 5-8 years of experience that included needs assessment, program development, training trainers and instructional design. Formal education in instructional technology was preferred along with any industry-related credentials.
  • A business management solutions firm wanted to place an individual in a position as a training and development leader at an automotive concern in Ohio. Candidates were to hold a college degree, preferably in adult education and have prior manufacturing experience. Candidates would also need to demonstrate capabilities in change management and organizational development.

Standing Out

Though you're concerned with an organization and its operation, as a training and development manager, you must keep in mind that you're dealing with people. Recognizing this, it can sharpen your skills and advance your employment potential if you make certain to pursue courses in educational and behavioral psychology. Coupled with courses dealing with information technology, these efforts on your part may give you a leg up on the competition. If you meet the education and experience requirements, you can enhance your standing by sitting for a certification examination administered by ISPI or the American Society for Training and Development.

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Northcentral University

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