The Pros and Cons of a Career as a Production Coordinator
If you are an extremely organized, detail-oriented individual capable of managing multiple projects, you may be interested in a career as a production coordinator. Before selecting this career, it is important to understand the pros and cons of this career path to determine if it is right for you.
|Pros of a Production Coordinator Career|
|Satisfaction of solving technical, scheduling and logistical problems**|
|Can qualify for many jobs with a high-school education and on-the-job training*|
|Jobs available in multiple industries, such as manufacturing, healthcare and finance**|
|Can work in a warehouse environment, away from inclement weather conditions*|
|Cons of a Production Coordinator Career|
|Little growth in the field (projected four percent between 2012 and 2022)*|
|Can be a high-stress position, because it requires multitasking and meeting deadlines**|
|Work is often highly routine**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*Net OnLine.
Job Description and Duties
Production coordinators can work in many different industries, such as manufacturing, retail, media, healthcare, construction, finance, transportation and professional services. Regardless of industry, their jobs typically involve logistical planning, scheduling and keeping track of inventories. Some of the essential skills needed include the ability to manage and keep multiple projects on schedule, the ability to update and maintain records, the ability to multitask and the ability to schedule and monitor product orders.
One of the primary responsibilities of production coordinators is to coordinate and schedule work between and within businesses or departments of an organization, which requires strong interpersonal and communication skills. Throughout the production process, coordinators may establish priorities and review and revise specifications of work orders or schedules, in relation to the availability of workers, equipment, machines, materials and parts. Production coordinators are sometimes responsible for creating project timelines, costing materials, coordinating shipments, and budgeting projects. Additionally, production coordinators typically create reports detailing the progress of projects.
Job Prospects and Salary Information
One of the challenges associated with entering this profession is that that the manufacturing industry is declining. In its most recent available data, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that between 2012 and 2022, the number of jobs for production, planning and expediting clerks, a classification that includes production coordinators, would only increase by four percent and that only 81,100 jobs would be added.
In 2015, PayScale.com reported that the majority of production coordinators in the manufacturing industry earned between $30,000 and $65,000. The median income for an entry-level position was approximately $47,000 annually, while the majority of those with 20 years of experience or more earned about $51,000 per year.
What Are the Requirements?
Educational requirements range from a high school diploma or its equivalent to a bachelor's degree. Some employers might recommend that you earn a degree, though most accept relevant experience as a substitute. Individuals seeking to become production coordinators must also possess certain skills, such as problem solving, communication, computer and time management skills. Production coordinators are also required to possess an understanding of the industry in which they work.
Individuals can develop the requisite skills and knowledge through on-the-job-training, entry-level work experience in a particular field or by enrolling in a related degree program. For example, an individual seeking to become a production coordinator in the manufacturing industry might pursue a job as a weigher, checker, measurer or sampler. The BLS indicates that these professionals check the condition, amount and quality of goods and materials to ensure that up-to-date records are kept. Another entry-level career aspiring production coordinators could pursue is a job as a cargo or freight agent. These individuals work in the transportation industry and are responsible for keeping track of shipments, as well as expediting them, according to the BLS.
Job Postings from Real Employers
Positions for production coordinators are often posted on job boards, such as CareerBuilder.com and Monster.com. Although the jobs listed are for positions across a variety of industries, the essential duties are largely the same. Employers often seek to hire individuals familiar with the logistics, industry-specific software applications, industry procedures or other systems and processes that are used in a particular field. An associate's degree or bachelor's degree in a related area is also helpful, but not necessarily a requirement, to obtain a position as a production coordinator. The following positions can't paint a complete picture of every production coordinator position, but they can indicate the skills and background employers sought in March 2012:
- A pharmaceutical and packaging company in Indianapolis is advertising for a lead production coordinator to establish project timelines, communicate objectives, monitor team progress, check inventories, track shipments and create reports. The employer seeks an individual who possesses experience and a bachelor's degree or commensurate experience.
- In the Houston area, a heavy equipment manufacturer is seeking a production coordinator who can update and maintain various records on a daily basis, monitor goods and inventories, and schedule employees. The employer is looking for an individual with 2-4 years of experience, strong communication skills and the ability to multitask.
- A social service provider in Illinois is looking for a production coordinator to keep track of inventory, produce shipping records and other reports, review production costs and interface with customers. A high school diploma and one year or more of experience are required.
- The marketing and advertising department of a company based in Maryland advertised for a production coordinator to monitor projects throughout the production process, proofread advertisements, keep track of print orders and build relationships. The employer is looking for an individual with industry experience and a bachelor's degree in communications, English or a related area.
- A design and textile manufacturer in the Miami area is searching for a production coordinator to schedule production work by booking employees, equipment and work orders for specific projects. Production coordinators are also required to prioritize projects, monitor the progress of current projects and keep track of inventory. Requirements include an associate's degree and a minimum of two years of related experience.
How Can I Stand Out?
Investigate Educational Opportunities
Although the educational requirements for production coordinators are often minimal, completing a degree program can provide you with working knowledge of the production process and teach you the skills needed to perform your job well. Postings on CareerBuilder.com indicate that many employers will accept a college degree in lieu of some related industry experience. If you plan to work as a production coordinator in the textile industry, for example, a degree in design could teach you about the design process and the materials needed to construct a project, while if you plan to work in manufacturing, a degree in supply chain management could teach you about the materials and process used by industry professionals.
Explore Certification Options
According to the Association for Operations Management (APICS), certification can lead to advancement opportunities, skill improvement, and increased effectiveness as a leader (www.APICS.org). The organization offers certification programs for production and inventory managers and supply chain professionals. The production and inventory management certification is available to individuals with two or more years of field experience and covers a variety of skills related to successfully managing inventory and production operations.
Individuals with five or more years of industry experience or at least two years of experience and a bachelor's degree can enroll in the supply chain professional certification program. Through this program, professionals can learn about current regulations and the steps required to bring a product from the supplier, through the production process, and to the consumer.
Alternative Career Paths
If the lack of available jobs for production coordinators deters your from the career path, there are other positions you can seek with equal or better employment prospects. If you're an organized, detail-oriented individual who enjoys scheduling, planning, and coordinating, consider a career as an administrative assistant or an information clerk. These positions have at least average employment growth or a large number of predicted job openings, as predicted by the BLS.
Administrative assistants, also known as secretaries, coordinate office activities and keep track of important documents and other paperwork. As an administrative assistant, you could set appointments, manage projects, create and organize filing systems, answer phones, purchase supplies, and perform other tasks related to office administration. The BLS predicted that jobs for secretaries and administrative assistants would grow by 12% between 2010 and 2020 and that 492,900 jobs would be added over this time period. The medical industry is expected to create the majority of new administrative assistant jobs, while legal secretary positions only account for about 8,000 of the predicted openings.
As of May 2011, secretaries and administrative assistants, excluding legal, medical and executive workers, earned a median yearly salary of $32,000. During the same reporting period, executive secretaries and executive administrative assistants earned a median annual salary of $46,000, while legal secretaries earned a median yearly salary of $43,000, and medical secretaries earned a median annual salary of $31,000.
Information clerks are responsible for a variety of clerical and administrative duties, such as collecting information, keeping track of data and updating records. In addition to these tasks, information clerks often interface with customers by answering questions or addressing concerns. Information clerks may work in offices for doctors, attorneys, government officials and private business owners. A high school diploma or its equivalent is the minimum educational requirement to obtain a position as an information clerk.
The BLS predicted that jobs for information clerks would increase by seven percent between 2010 and 2020. Over this same time frame, the organization projected that around 109,000 jobs would be added, which is far more than the number of jobs being added for production coordinators. In May 2011, receptionists and information clerks earned a median yearly salary of $26,000.