What Does an Operations Manager Do? (And How To Become One)

Updated 6 August 2023

An operations manager plays a pivotal role in any organisation. These executives manage the production of goods and services and the administrative and business side of a company. Knowing what an operations manager does can help you decide if it's a role you'd like to pursue. In this article, we discuss the answer to the question, “what does an operations manager do?”, what it takes to acquire the job and answer some frequently asked questions.

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What does an operations manager do?

Operations managers are usually experienced leaders. Ultimately, they supervise all the departments of a business. These professionals organise human resource departments, finance, IT, plan process improvements and manage the production of goods. The most critical role of an operations manager is to improve the efficiency of a business.

Being an operations manager can be a complex role but is vital for a well-balanced workplace. Here are some examples of an operations manager's main duties:

  • Developing operations strategies

  • Communicating with staff and management to maintain proper organisation

  • Running the production or distribution of products.

  • Planning and overseeing organisational change

  • Reviewing budgets and managing costs

  • Overseeing health and safety

  • Recruitment and training of staff

  • Maintaining staff morale through positive communication

  • Collaborating with stakeholders and board of directors

  • Collaborating with other businesses to establish beneficial relationships

  • Using quality insurance protocols to avoid mistakes and defects in products

  • Hiring and firing when needed

  • Ensuring operational ventures make deadlines and meet budgets

  • Leading and supporting large teams in a busy environment

  • Delivering excellent customer service

  • Reducing costs and cut errors wherever possible

  • Working with legal and health and safety departments to ensure compliances are up to date

  • Growing the efficiency of an organization by enhancing processes and procedures

Related: What Does an Operations Officer Do? (Plus Qualifications)

How to become an operations manager

Before you begin applying for operations manager jobs you'll need some education in a relevant field. An operations manager is an executive-level role, so a tertiary education and lots of experience are often necessary to obtain this job. Here are the steps you may consider taking to become an operations manager:

1. Gain a bachelor's degree

A diploma in business (operations management), for example, can get you started with some knowledge about the position. However, may require a bachelor's degree to give you a competitive edge when applying for positions. A bachelor's degree in operations management can be looked on fondly by employers due to its specificity.

There are also additional bachelors to consider:

  • Business logistics and supply chain management

  • Business

  • Business administration

  • Leadership and management

2. Complete a postgraduate degree

Consider a postgraduate study to further your career. Master's degrees can not only help you advance to a higher position but can also give you useful knowledge to apply to your workplace. Some useful postgraduate degrees for this job are:

  • Logistics and supply chain management

  • Business specialising in operations management

  • Business administration

  • Master of management

  • Master of business management

3. Gain experience

Your employment history may be significant to your future employers. While studying you may consider entry-level positions or a part-time job in a relevant field. You could aim for jobs in human resources or managerial positions in a business setting. You may also consider a paid internship which can be a good way to get started in any industry.

Related: What is an Internship: Everything you need to know

4. Getting started

It's a good idea to make sure you write an exceptional resume that makes you stand out amongst the rest. Expanding your networks to find jobs that may not be advertised can also help you with getting started. Decide what industry you'd like to work in and be on the lookout for any potential mentors who may guide you through the application process.

Related: What Makes a Good Resume?

Skills required of an operations manager

Operations managers oversee numerous departments at once. These professionals may work in many industries varying in size and structure. Operations managers need to constantly develop their skills. Some vital skills are listed below:

Communication skills

Operation managers communicate with stakeholders, vendors, managers, and the board of directors. These managers also collaborate with other businesses to establish mutually beneficial relationships. Maintaining staff morale while juggling all these other responsibilities can sometimes be a little demanding. Hence, good communication skills are beneficial.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

Leadership skills

Operations managers are leaders in organisations. This role deals with large teams in a demanding environment. Strategic thinking and being dependable can aid in managing a team. Being an approachable but productive leader can make for successful workplace culture.

Related: Top 6 Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

Financial management skills

Operations managers can be well versed in finance and budgeting. This role involves overseeing all the financial departments of a business. Operational managers may regularly develop budgets and interpret financial data. Hitting financial targets and making deadlines are crucial responsibilities of the operations manager.

Related: What Does a Financial Manager do (and how to become one)

Business skills

A key role of the operations manager is to help a business to run more efficiently. Business skills can be learned through study and on the job. Critical thinking, problem-solving, and general management skills can be learned and practised, and be utilised in the workplace.

Related: What Are Management Job Titles? (With Salaries and Duties)

Organisational skills

Operations managers usually have to oversee almost every department of a business. An efficient and harmonious workplace culture is the goal of an operations manager. So, organisational skills are essential. Strategic planning, time management, goal setting, and delegation are all good methods of keeping things in order. Staying organised in an intricate environment may be challenging without these skills.

Related: Top Organisational Skills For Your Resume and Workplace

Decision-making skills

Deciding how to make every department in a company run smoothly can be complicated. An operations manager has to be confident in making the right decisions. Especially when making changes to systems already in place. The alterations made by the operations manager can affect the entire business. So, problem solving and intuition are useful tools when it comes to decision-making.

Related: Decision-Making Skills: Definition With Tips

What is the average salary of an operations manager

Being an operations manager can be a lucrative position. The average annual salary of an operations manager is $104,639. Your salary as an operations manager may depend on what industry you choose to work in and where you live. The average salary differs in each city:

  • Melbourne Victoria: $112,769

  • Sydney New South Wales: $109,491

  • Adelaide South Australia: $99,954

  • Darwin Northern Territory: $112,000

  • Hobart Tasmania: $96,966

  • Perth Western Australia: $120,078

  • Canberra Australian Capital Territory: $107,651

  • Brisbane Queensland: $111,426

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Frequently asked questions

Below you can find a list of frequently asked questions:

What are the working conditions of an operations manager?

The working conditions of an operations manager can be unique. It often involves a lot of talking to subordinates ensuring things are in order. These executives may resolve conflicts between staff members or departments. Although you can be extremely busy the job satisfaction of an operations manager is generally quite high and it is a great career choice.

Are operations managers in high demand?

Operations managers are ranked highly in business jobs growth volume. Operation management skills can be transferable to any industry and many other job titles. It can be said that any job based on operation management is sure to be in high demand as it is a crucial role in any business.

Related: How to Write a Marketing Operations Manager Resume

What are similar jobs to operations managers?

The role of an operations manager is broad. Many jobs encompass similar features to an operations manager.

Here are some examples of related jobs:

  • General manager

  • Project manager

  • Owner

  • Operations director

  • Office manager

  • Consultant

  • Program manager

  • Plant manager

  • Operations analyst

  • Operations engineer

  • Program analyst

  • Logistics manager

  • Financial manager

  • Data manager

  • Business intelligence analyst

Related: How to Write a Plant Manager Resume (Template and Example)

Can you progress beyond operations manager?

There is often a pyramid of responsibility for operations in most organisations. Operations managers sit about in the middle. So, there are options to move even further up the corporate ladder. The order of operations titles are as follows:

  1. Chief operating officer (COO)

  2. Vice president of operations

  3. Director of operations

  4. Operations manager

  5. Individual contributors

  6. Entry-Level

Related: What is a Chief Operating Officer? (With Job Requirements)

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

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