Pros and Cons of Working as a Production Scheduler
A production scheduler helps oversee the day-to-day aspects of a company's production and often assists customers in receiving goods and services in a timely manner. The following are just a few pros and cons of becoming a production scheduler to help you figure out if this career is a good fit for you.
|Pros of a Production Scheduling Career|
|Minimal education requirements (entry-level positions typically require a high school diploma or its equivalent)*|
|Can work in many industries (manufacturing, wholesale trade, insurance, telecommunications)*|
|On-the-job training is available for skill development*|
|Can work in many geographical locations*|
|Cons of a Production Scheduling Career|
|Minimal job growth (expected four percent from 2012-2022)*|
|May be exposed to contaminants**|
|May share office and work space with coworkers**|
|Position can require sitting for hours at a time*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **ISEEK.org.
Essential Career Info
Job Description and Duties
Production schedulers, also called 'production clerks', 'production planners', 'production managers' or 'production controllers', work in a variety of industries, mainly manufacturing and wholesale trade. Their workweeks generally follow a set schedule, but can include nights and weekends, as well as any unexpected emergencies that occur during production. Production schedulers generally work indoors, though they may share office space with other employees. Although production coordinators work away from inclement weather, they could still be exposed to environmental contaminants.
As a production scheduler, you will be responsible for coordinating and facilitating the flow of information, work and other materials according to a production or shipment schedule to ensure that things get accomplished in a timely manner. Production schedulers also compile reports on production work and monitor production progress manually or electronically. You may also be responsible for resolving production issues, such as missing reports, late work or unresolved customer requests. In this position, you must be able to meet deadlines with the precision required by the production process. This can include balancing your schedule and properly scheduling other members of the production team.
Job Prospects and Salary
Although the importance of company efficiency would make it seem like every company needs workers to ensure the timeliness of production, this doesn't translate into a large number of job openings for these positions. The decline in employment for the manufacturing industry has played a major role in this, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted only four percent job growth for production, planning and expediting clerks between 2012 and 2022.
While job prospects are minimal, production, planning and expediting workers leaving the industry may allow for additional job openings. The BLS also notes that the job opportunities are concentrated in the building, manufacturing and wholesale trade industries. According to the BLS, the median salary for planning, expediting and production clerks was $46,000, as of May 2014.
What Are the Requirements?
A high school diploma or its equivalent is typically required to gain employment in the field. Most production scheduler jobs are entry-level and do not require a lot of previous experience. Employers may prefer to hire candidates with computer skills, as well as knowledge of office and business equipment. The size of the company for which you work can also play an important role in your day-to-day job duties. With smaller organizations, you may have fewer employees to manage and the majority of the production process may fall on your shoulders, which requires a more general skill set. Working for a larger company, you may be just one member of the production staff and need specialized skills.
Most employers provide on-the-job training that could last up to six months. During this period, you may learn the ins and outs of the industry and company, as well how to perform job duties by practicing routine tasks under the guidance of an experienced professional or supervisor. You will need to be detail oriented and organized in order to perform duties within a deadline, often under stressful conditions. Additionally customer service skills are beneficial, because you'll often interact with vendors, suppliers and other members of the production team.
Job Postings from Real Employers
Although a high school diploma is the minimum requirement for some positions, employers may require at least a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as supply chain management. Other desired qualifications could include interpersonal skills, previous industry experience and computer proficiency. The following examples are real job postings for production schedulers obtained in February 2012:
- A communication systems company in Salt Lake City, UT, is seeking a candidate with at least five years' experience developing and maintaining a program schedule, a bachelor's degree in a business or technical field, skills in risk management and working knowledge of MS Project 2003 or 2007.
- A manufacturer in North Carolina is looking for a candidate who possesses an associate's degree, two years' automotive planning or scheduling experience, excellent interpersonal skills and experience working with diversified procurement and negotiation.
- A Chicago, IL, construction and manufacturing company is hiring a candidate with at least two years' experience in supply chain scheduling and a general understanding of warehousing, production, inventory and other customer service functions. Ideally, applicants should also possess SAP experience, a college degree and a background in logistics.
How to Stand Out
Although not required by all employers, the Association for Operations Management (APICS) offers certification designed for production, inventory and supply chain professionals (www.apics.org). Obtaining certification can help you in this competitive job market by enhancing your training in the areas associated with this career, such as management, business and operations. This designation can help you stand out to employers who only require a high school diploma or undergraduate degree.
The Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) credential requires at least two years' experience to obtain. You will need to complete an exam that covers topics like supply chain management fundamentals and resource management.
The Certified Fellow in Production and Inventory Management (CFPIM) program is available after you have received the CPIM credential. The CFPIM designation gives you the opportunity to take part in workshops and interact with other professionals in this field.
You can obtain the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credential with five years of experience or a related bachelor's degree and at least two years of experience. The exam for this credential is broken up into three modules that cover topics such as supply chain dynamics, mitigation methods and customer relationship management.
Other Careers to Consider
General Office Clerk
If you find production scheduling interesting but the lack of job growth is a deterrent, you could consider a career as a general office clerk. These professionals perform various administrative and clerical tasks, such as ordering supplies and materials, recording business transactions, answering phones, scheduling appointments and updating filing systems. Similar to production schedulers, a high school diploma or its equivalent is typically required to become a general office clerk. The BLS predicted that jobs for these professionals would increase 17% from 2010-2030, which is much faster than average. However, their median annual salary, according to the BLS, was $27,000, as of May 2011.
Individuals who are interested in earning a higher salary and who are willing to complete additional educational requirements could consider careers as purchasing managers or cost estimators. Purchasing managers are responsible for buying inventory, which requires that they select suppliers, negotiate contracts and review the quality of received items. With a bachelor's degree and experience, you could pursue this career, which the BLS reported had median annual salary of $97,000 in May 2011. Predicted job growth for these professionals was seven percent from 2010-2020, which was the same as the projected growth for production schedulers.
You might also be interested in working as a cost estimator, which also requires a bachelor's degree and, similar to production scheduling, is a position that helps ensure a company's effectiveness by analyzing the need for resources, labor, time and money to complete projects. As of May 2011, the BLS indicated that these professionals earned a median annual salary of $58,000, which was higher than the salary of production schedulers. The BLS also predicted a 36% increase in jobs for cost estimators between 2010 and 2020, which is much faster than the anticipated growth for production schedulers.