How to Become an Operations Manager (with Skills and Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An operations manager plays a leading role in an organisation, overlooking the production of goods and services and helping to manage administrative aspects of the company. It's a highly responsible role. Understanding how to become an operations manager and what the role usually entails can help you decide if it's the right career for you. In this article, we discuss the daily responsibilities of an operations manager, provide salary information, list study pathways to the role and recommend the skills needed to be successful in this role.

What does an operation manager do?

An operations manager supervises multiple or all business departments. Skilled leadership traits are valuable as the manager implements improvements across the human resources, accounting, IT and production departments. An operations manager's primary role is to improve the efficiency of a business.

Here are some examples of an operation manager's typical duties:

  • developing operational procedures

  • drafting and overseeing organisational change

  • managing the running of production and distribution of products

  • looking after all project and operational ventures to ensure they hit their targets

  • directing and supporting staff in a high-pressure environment

  • recruiting, hiring and training staff

  • evaluating and improving processes

  • using quality insurance protocols to avoid mistakes

  • ensuring operational ventures make deadlines and meet budgets

  • leading and supporting large teams in a busy environment

  • reviewing budgets and controlling expenditures

  • monitoring health and safety procedures

  • collaborating with stakeholders, the board of directors and other businesses

  • communicating with co-workers and upper management to ensure all systems are working correctly

  • managing health and safety and ensuring all compliances are up to date

  • coordinating learning and development activities for staff

How to become an operations manager

Here's a guide showing you how to become an operations manager:

1. Complete a bachelor's degree

Having a bachelor's degree is generally a requirement for most operations manager positions. While a business diploma may be suitable, completing a degree in operations management or business may give you a better chance of obtaining a job.

Some ideal bachelor degrees to consider are:

  • business

  • business logistics and supply chain management

  • business administration

  • public administration

2. Complete a postgraduate degree

A master's degree gives you comprehensive knowledge applicable to your role, as well as a competitive edge for obtaining a job. Some valuable post-graduate degrees are:

  • logistics and supply chain management

  • business specialising in operations management

  • business administration

  • master of management

  • master of business management

3. Gain experience

An operations manager role is an executive position that could be difficult to obtain without prior experience. The more experience you have and the more complex those past roles have been, the more advantageous it may be to obtain an employer's attention. To gain experience, you can:

  • find an entry-level position in business administration, HR, or business support and seek operations opportunities as they arise

  • work part-time in a relevant role while studying

  • complete a paid internship

  • obtain employer support for you to both work and study

Related: 11 Benefits of an Internship (With FAQs about Internships)

4. Prepare your resume

A well-constructed resume can make you stand out in a pool of applicants. It's a good idea to tailor your resume for each job you apply for. Different industry types appreciate a range of specialised skills. Expanding your network to find jobs not yet listed but planned is another great way to find a position.

Related: Resume Format Guide (with Examples)

Skills required of an operations manager

An operations manager requires a combination of quality soft and hard skills to succeed at their job. The role can involve managing multiple departments and juggling numerous tasks simultaneously. An operations manager can work across a variety of industries. Consistently developing your skills is the best way to further your career. Some vitals skills are listed below:

Leadership

Operations managers are often excellent leaders. In this role, you may work with multiple teams in challenging or fast-paced situations. You can use leadership skills to inspire your team members, oversee project deadlines effectively and encourage growth. An empathetic and dependable leader inspires faith in colleagues and creates a productive workplace culture.

Related: What Is an Inspirational Leader? (Plus How to Become One)

Business skills

Business skills include many hard and soft skills like negotiation and problem-solving and technical know-how. An operations manager applies business skills every day to help the company run more efficiently. Delegating tasks, decision-making, and strategic planning are just some of the skills required for this role.

Related: Business Skills (Definition, Examples and Development Tips)

Finance management

Understanding budgeting and profit forecasting is a necessary skill set for an operations manager. You may use these technical skills to oversee projects, implement budgets for departments and find ways to reduce waste and improve efficiency. Mathematics competency, strategic planning and analytical thinking can help you in this career.

Communication

Slightly different to leadership skills, as this includes communicating with stakeholders, other managers, vendors and the company directors. As an operations manager, your duties may include liaising with other businesses to create reciprocal professional relationships. Skilled communication is necessary to be able to give and receive information that is easily understood and concise.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Human resource skills

Operations managers work a lot in human resources. Having the skills required to help staff onboard, train and resolve conflict effectively are essential for your career. Understanding and implementing your company's policy can also be a regular task in the job.

Related: What Is Human Resources? Guide to Roles and Duties

What is the average salary of an operations manager?

An operations manager is a rewarding and advantageous career. The national average salary of an operations manager is $106,008 per year. Your salary as an operations manager depends on your chosen industry and the state you live in. Here's the average salary in different cities:

  • Melbourne, Victoria: $110,011 per year

  • Sydney, New South Wales: $116,173 per year

  • Adelaide, South Australia: $104,381 per year

  • Darwin, Northern Territory: $109,942 per year

  • Hobart, Tasmania: $71,770 per year

  • Perth, Western Australia: $119,402 per year

  • Canberra, Australian Capital Territory: $109,107 per year

  • Brisbane, Queensland: $106,894 per year

What is the work environment for an operations manager?

Operations managers work across various industries, so the environment differs depending on the workplace itself. Most operations managers work regular business hours at full-time capacity, with late nights and the occasional weekend needed during busy periods. This career often offers variety in day-to-day tasks.

What are similar jobs to an operations manager?

As you wear so many hats as an operation manager, you can learn the skills to match a number of different jobs. Some of these include:

1. Project manager

National average salary: $121,645 per year

Primary duties: Project managers are in charge of all aspects of a project including planning, finances, execution, project team and project closure. They need business, communication, leadership and problem-solving skills. Project managers carry a lot of responsibility in their roles. Their scope of work differs by industry and project type.

2. Program analyst

National average salary: $106,769 per year

Primary duties: Program analysts optimise their company's computer systems to work at maximum efficiency. Alternate titles for this job can be research analyst or program evaluator. They require analytical thinking skills and are goal orientated. A program analyst could work for a healthcare, government or business company.

3. Consultant

National average salary: $78,598 per year

Primary duties: Consultants take on short or long-term projects at companies that need help addressing issues. They liaise with staff and management to collect data, analyse the situation, and suggest solutions. They may use interpersonal and communication skills daily in this role. A consultant can work for a company or as a sole trader.

4. Financial manager

National average salary: $119,031 per year

Primary duties: Financial managers oversee the finances of their company. They develop strategies for their workplace's financial goals. They also run regular reports, approve budgeting, and analyse the company's economic well-being. Financial managers can work across different industries.

What is the next step after becoming an operations manager?

An operations manager is an executive-level role. They're leaders of a small team, but they also report to people above them. After working as an operations manager, you can further your career by applying for more senior positions.

Here are some senior-level roles that may be an option:

  • director of business operations

  • strategic planning manager

  • vice president of operations

  • chief operating officer (COO)

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

Explore more articles