Operations management is a wide and complex field that is often misunderstood due to the fact that it is multidisciplinary. Yet, without operations management, no business could survive in today’s competitive world, which is why schools all over the world offer degree programs for this particular field.

As an operations manager, you will be involved with the supervision, organization, and planning of all elements of provision of services, manufacturing, and/or production. You will focus on delivery, making sure that the company you work for is fully efficient in both input and output. These managers take care of supply chain management and, within that, logistics.

Opportunity

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are currently some 2,188,870 operations managers employed in the country. They earn an average of $122,090 per year. Since the last count, there has only been a 0.3% rise in the number of logistics managers. At present, the BLS is reviewing some of its projections and statistics on this particular field, so they have not yet announced how demand for operations managers will change. That said, the skills of these managers are required across the board, which means demand is likely to continue to be strong.

Career Paths

Within the field of operations management, there are numerous possible career paths. Payscale.com has reported on some of the most common jobs for those who hold an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) with an operations management concentration. Those roles, and their associated salaries are as follows:

  • Operations Manager, with annual salaries ranging from $54,990 to $121,993
  • Vice President (VP) for Operations, with annual salaries ranging from $90,823 to $205,830
  • Director of Operations, with annual salaries ranging from $74,497 to $154,074
  • President, with annual salaries ranging from $80,537 to $278,760
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO), with an average annual salary of $205,000
  • Six Sigma Black Belt Project Manager, with an average annual salary of $106,670
  • Program Project Manager, with an average annual salary of $109,443

The IndustryWeek Salary Survey, meanwhile, has revealed the following popular positions and their associated salaries:

  • Executive Managers, with an average annual salary of $179,900
  • VP, Operations, with an average annual salary of $167,700
  • R&D/Product Development Manager, with an average annual salary of $110,700
  • Lean/Continuous Improvement Manager, with an average annual salary of $103,200
  • Supply Chain/Logistics Manager, with an average annual salary of $97,400

Salaries

Geographical location is very important in terms of what someone can expect to earn. The BLS has reported on the top five states to work as an operations manager:

  • New Jersey, with an average annual salary of $168,510
  • Delaware, with an average annual salary of $149,110
  • New York, with an average annual salary of $148,910
  • The District of Columbia, with an average annual salary of $146,710
  • Connecticut, with an average annual salary of $144,280

Meanwhile, Payscale.com has issued a report on salaries across different cities in the country. Those are:

  • Chicago, Illinois, with an average annual salary of $105,519
  • Atlanta, Georgia, with an average annual salary of $102,659
  • New York, New York, with an average annual salary of $101,478
  • Boston, Massachusetts, with an average annual salary of $111,900
  • St. Louis, Missouri, with an average annual salary of $115,000
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with an average annual salary of $144,447
  • Cleveland, Ohio, with an average annual salary of $103,385

Employers

The company that someone works for is also vital in regards to salary. According to the BLS, operations managers are employed in a variety of organizations, including:

  • Securities and Commodity Exchanges, with an average annual salary of $204,870
  • Insurance and Employee Benefit Funds, with an average annual salary of $196,770
  • Monetary Authorities – Central Banks, with an average annual salary of $196,350
  • Other Financial Investment Activities, with an average annual salary of $188,320
  • Oil and Gas Extraction, with an average annual salary of $187,960

Payscale.com has also reported on popular employers across the country, with associated salaries. These are:

  • AT&T Inc., with an average annual salary of $120,346
  • Amazon.com Inc, with an average annual salary of $99,750
  • Oracle Corp., with an average annual salary of $61,046
  • Medtronic, Inc., with an average annual salary of $84,000
  • Saint-Gobain Abrasives, Inc., with an average annual salary of $78,772
  • Cummins, Inc., with an average annual salary of $115,500
  • T. Rowe Price Group, with an average annual salary of $65,000
  • Kolene, with an average annual salary of $80,340
  • Hewlett-Packard Company, with an average annual salary of $65,985
  • Booz, Allen, and Hamilton, with an average annual salary of $103,500
  • Andritz Inc., with an average annual salary of $67,500
  • Fluke Corporation, with an average annual salary of $103,000
  • United Technologies Corporation, with an average annual salary of $112,000
  • The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., with an average annual salary of $67,500
  • Follett Corporation, with an average annual salary of $204,878
  • Accenture Technology Solutions, with an average annual salary of $87,429
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific, Inc., with an average annual salary of $147,500
  • Alcatel – Lucent, with an average annual salary of $95,649
  • Ford Motor Company, with an average annual salary of $108,500
  • Wipro Technologies Ltd., with an average annual salary of $80,000.
  • Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, with an average annual salary of $63,000
  • ArcelorMittal, with an average annual salary of $46,250
  • Novo Nordisk Inc., with an average annual salary of $98,900
  • Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc., with an average annual salary of $78,500
  • Patheon Pharmaceuticals, Inc, with an average annual salary of $71,000
  • Armed Forces Services Corporation, with an average annual salary of $92,500
  • The Boeing Company, with an average annual salary of $88,950
  • The Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), with an average annual salary of $92,000
  • L-3 Communications, with an average annual salary of $83,810
  • FCA Corp, with an average annual salary of $114,100

Bachelor’s Degree

Obviously, in order to gain a lucrative career in the field of operations management, you will need a good education. This starts with a bachelor’s degree. For the convenience of students, and to remain relevant with the developing digital world, many schools now offer their degree programs online. At the same time, on campus classes continued to be available. One example of a bachelor’s degree in operations management is the BSBA offered by Thomas Edison State University. The degree’s curriculum includes:

  • Written Communication
  • Oral Communication
  • Quantitative Literacy
  • Information Literacy
  • Civic and Global Learning
  • Knowledge of Human Cultures
  • Understanding the Physical and Natural World
  • Mathematics
  • General Education Electives
  • Cornerstone: Lifelong Learning Strategies
  • Financial Accounting
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Principles of Management
  • Computer Concepts and Applications/Introduction to Computers/CIS
  • Introduction to Marketing
  • Principles of Finance
  • Business in Society or International Management
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Business/Managerial Communications
  • Strategic Management
  • Introduction to Operations Management
  • Quality Assurance

Furthermore, the school offers a wide array of different elective courses that students can choose from in order to mold the degree according to their personal interests and needs.

Master’s Degree

Completing a master’s degree would allow a person to push his or her career much further. This will give you the opportunity to gain advanced skills and knowledge in your field, and set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd. As with the bachelor’s degree, many master’s degree programs are now also offered online, which makes it easier than ever to complete a degree without having to completely stop working.

Within the field of operations management, many people choose to complete the MBA, which is one of the most respected terminal professional degrees. However, some schools continue to offer a graduate degree specific to operations management, including Kettering University Online, which offers the Master of Science in Operations Management, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, the gold standard for business education.

Admission Requirements

Each school is entitled to set its own admission requirements. However, they are usually quite similar across the board due to the fact that these requirements demonstrate whether or not someone has the academic capacity to complete a program at graduate degree level. The admissions requirements for Kettering University Online are:

  • A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution
  • Official transcripts
  • A GPA of 3.0 minimum
  • TOEFL/IELTS for non-native English speakers

Uniquely, Kettering University does not require letters of recommendation or GMAT/GRE scores, but most other schools do.

Curriculum

Schools are allowed to establish their own curriculum for each particular degree program. This is why it is very important to enroll in an accredited program in an accredited university. This assures prospective employers that your degree included courses that meet the minimum requirements for the profession. The accreditation at Kettering University is provided by the ACBSB, which means it meets and exceeds all the necessary standards. Their curriculum includes:

  • Management Science
  • Financial Management
  • Managing People and Organizations
  • Enterprise Information System Models
  • Marketing Management
  • Operations Management
  • Strategy Capstone
  • Lean Six Sigma
  • Technology Management
  • Project and Change Management

Financial Assistance

Apparently, obtaining an education, especially a master’s degree, is very costly. First of all, you have to invest a substantial amount of time. While the amount of time needed can be reduced by studying online, the time to be set aside for your studies will still be significant. The second major investment is a financial one, of course. Fortunately, the university of your choosing will be able to signpost you to financial aid, and they may also have scholarships and grants available that you can apply for. At the same time, there are a number of external scholarships that you may want to consider. These include the:

  • ACI-NA Commissioners Scholarship Fund, to the value of $2,500
  • Chad Jones Memorial Scholarship Program, to the value of $1,000
  • CSCMP Future Supply Chain Star Scholarship, to the value of $2,000
  • David R. Parsley Endowed Scholarship Fund, ranging in value from $1,750 to $10,000
  • Davis-Kassa Scholarship Program, to the value of $4,000
  • Harvey P. Sommerer Memorial Scholarship, to the value of $1,000
  • Howard Bernstein Industrial Distribution Scholarship, to the value of $5,000
  • ISM Pharmaceutical Forum Supply Chain Management Scholarship, to the value of $1,000
  • ISM-Pittsburgh Supply Chain Management Scholarship, to the value of $2,500
  • James Greathouse APICS Certification Professional Scholarship, which pays for the Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) or Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) credentials offered by APICS

Generally speaking, applying for scholarships means that you have to meet certain requirements. For instance, you may need to study at a certain school, take on a certain concentration, work in a certain field, show financial need, have a minimum GPA, belong to a certain minority group, be a member of a professional organization, or be of a certain gender.

Certifications

It is not required to become certified in operations management, but most would recommended it. Through certification, you are able to show that you are committed to your own professional development and to the advancement of the field. It should be noted that getting a certification does require a further investment of time and money, and you often have to maintain that certification by obtaining continuous education credits. Nevertheless, most people would agree that this is a worthy investment, as it opens up more careers. Some certifications that you may want to consider in the field of operations management are:

  • APICS CPIM Certification
  • OPMP – Operations & Performance Management Professional
  • Certificate in Operations Management
  • Certified Business Operations Management Specialist – (CBOMS)
  • Technology and Operations Specialist Certificate

Associations

It is a good move to join certain professional organizations as soon as you decide to study towards an operations management degree, even at the bachelor’s level. Such professional associations and organizations often offer scholarships and grants that you could be eligible for. More importantly, by being a member of such associations, you will always be at the forefront of new developments within your field, ensuring that your skills and knowledge are up to date. Furthermore, you may also find it easier to obtain certifications and continuous education credits. But perhaps the greatest benefit of being a member is the fact that you can build a professional network that could prove to be helpful for your career in the future.

Some of the professional associations you may want to consider are the:

  • Production and Operations Management Society (POMS)
  • APICS – The Association for Operations management
  • Association for Operations Management
  • Strategy & Operations Management Association (SOMA)

Learn More on BusinessStudent.com

References

Henry R. Steele
Henry R. Steele
Henry is Editor-in-Chief of Business Student.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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