What to Know About a Career as an Operations Manager

Operations managers are among the most broadly influential and integral individuals in a business. The Online Master of Business Administration degree program from Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business can prepare graduates for roles in operations management, among many other vital careers in the corporate sphere.

Responsibilities of Operations Managers

Operations managers have important roles in their organizations, but it can be hard to define them in precise terms. As a field of study, operations management analyzes the processes behind the basic functions of a business. An operations manager’s goal is to make these systems as efficient and effective as possible—whether that involves the methods of production in an industrial facility or coordinating logistics for teams of consultants in a financial firm—and instituting reliable ways to objectively evaluate those processes.

While their exact duties may vary depending on the company’s structure, operations managers ostensibly have a hand in nearly every facet of the workflows in a single organization. That might include authority over things like:

  • Resource management: Ensuring the raw materials, personnel, and equipment are in place and meet standards for quality. Knowledge of the firm’s supply chain is critical to effective resource management. This may involve human resources functions like recruitment, hiring, and employee assignment, as well.
  • Financial management: Taking part in budgeting, accounting, and analysis of financial performance. This includes overseeing the processes surrounding the creation of financial statements or business forecasts.
  • Communications: Understanding how people throughout the business interact to complete essential tasks. This may also involve a broader role in managing corporate culture and keeping employees informed about key objectives.

The knowledge and abilities required of operations managers are in line with that of most business professionals in any occupation. They should be adept at the principles underlying effective management and business administration. Operations managers should also be well-versed in the legal and practical foundations of capital management, human resources, and corporate communication, as these will determine the path forward for many of their more specific roles. Most people in the role of operations manager are analytical thinkers, comfortable with applied mathematics to enable statistical analysis, but equally capable as speakers, writers, and listeners. Operations managers need to be able to think critically about the problem at hand, implement an appropriate solution, and communicate with colleagues to see that progress is made.

Modern operations managers are generally expected to be experienced with relevant business technology systems and software, which may include:

  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) software
  • Database systems and data entry methods
  • Analytical tools for business data

Career Outlook for Operations Managers

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job market for operations managers or general managers is strong, and should continue to improve in the coming years. The BLS estimated that in 2016, more than   in the U.S. That figure is expected to increase at a rate roughly in line with the average across all occupations, with an estimated 210,700 job openings becoming available between 2016 and 2026.

Operations and general managers are also well-compensated. Based on BLS data, people working as operations managers earned a median salary of $100,410, significantly higher than the national median wage during that time (around $38,000 per year). The top-paying positions for operations managers tended to cluster in the financial services industry: Workers with this title in the securities and investments industry, as defined by the BLS, earned an average wage of nearly $195,000. Sorted by industries with the highest concentration of operations managers, these careers were often found in occupations related to corporate management, retail trade, food service, scientific and technical consulting services, and local government.

In most roles in which they may find themselves, operations managers are expected to act as dependable leaders who demonstrate initiative, integrity, and self-control in their work. Building relationships with colleagues is important to the work of operations managers, as it will allow them to more effectively plan and implement improvements to business processes. As such, they will also benefit from a degree of independence in their work. Operations managers are often trusted as experts in their field, and will have the responsibility and authority that comes along with these expectations. The working conditions for operations managers may be stressful at times, but they do not need to work in an environment in which they are competing with colleagues. Job security and multifaceted benefits are key characteristics of most operations management positions.

At minimum, most operations managers are expected to attain a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field of study like business administration, management, or finance. Since wages in this position are correlated with experience, investing in further education like a master’s in business administration degree can be a sound decision. In highly technical roles, it might be more common for operations manager roles to require advanced education or other specialized experience. Employment of operations managers is heavily concentrated in scientific and other technical fields that may have more stringent requirements for education, experience, and certifications.

Online MBA: Learn More About The Program

The Online Master of Business Administration degree program from Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business offers working professionals the opportunity to advance their career and move into bigger, better roles while they continue to hold full-time employment. The flexibility of fully online coursework provides significant value for students without sacrificing the opportunities afforded by its top-tier curriculum, which allows for study abroad classes, and much more. Speak to an enrollment advisor today to learn more about the online MBA degree program and find a way to grow your skills.



O*Net: Operations managers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics