Operations Management is one of the most important components of running a business. While a well-run operations function might not grab headlines on a regular basis, it is nevertheless very crucial to a company when delivering innovative products to consumers around the world in a cost-effective and timely manner.
What exactly is Operations Management?
Operations Management is a core aspect of business. It is responsible for a number of key functions of a business, including:
- Managing logistical processes and the overall supply chain
- Overseeing production and assuring product quality
- Initiating and building relationships with vendors
- Ordering, warehousing, and managing the flow of materials
Put simply, operations management ensures that the day-to-day operations of the business are working as efficiently as possible in order for the company to achieve its objectives.
Getting Started in an Operations Management Career
There are certain individuals who are ideally suited for a career in operations management. For those who feel they might fall into this category, getting the right education is absolutely essential. The most common path is to earn a bachelor’s degree in business followed by an MBA in operations management online. There are a number of tracks a graduate could pursue that would ultimately lead them to a successful career.
The following are four of the top career paths for individuals interested in Operations Management:
- Business Operations Management
The Business Operations Management career path is perhaps the most well-known and obvious track for those interested in operations management. This position oversees activities such as planning, budgeting, and scheduling in order to support the production of high-quality products at an acceptable cost and within time constraints. The Business Operations Manager must make sure that quality of products and services, and the cost of their production, align with the business' strategic goals. According to U.S. News and World Report, operations management jobs will grow by an estimated 12.4% between 2012 and 2022, and the median salary was $96,430 in 2013. The top 10% of earners in this career path earn $187,199 or more.
- Purchasing Management
Purchasing management is similar to operations management. However, this career path is more strictly focused on the actual logistics of purchasing raw materials and any other supplies that a company needs. A major part of the job responsibilities are in negotiating and comparing offers in order to ensure that the company procures the best quality material at the best possible price. Purchasing managers are also responsible for ensuring that goods and services are delivered on schedule.
Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary in this career track is $60,550 per year, and the job outlook between 2012 and 2022 is for 4% growth.
- Materials Management
The primary responsibilities of the Materials Management career path lie in the production and storage of finished goods, as well as the logistical considerations involved in transporting those goods between departments or to distribution centers, warehouses, and customers. Materials managers are also responsible for ensuring that the proper goods are being purchased or produced. Some of the common jobs in this career track include traffic managers, warehouse managers, materials managers, and logistics managers.
According to the BLS, the median salary for Materials Managers (or “Logisticians”) is $72,780 per year, and the job outlook from 2012-2022 is for 22% growth - which is significantly higher than the overall job market. This versatile career path is without a doubt one with a great deal of opportunity in the coming years.
- Operations Research
For those who wish to focus on operations management from a more theoretical perspective, the Operations Research Analyst career path can be an attractive one. Individuals in this career path are primarily responsible for determining the best allocation of a company’s assets and resources. These resources can include hard assets, but also typically include human resources, time, capital, and a number of other industry-specific resources. Individuals in this job are also responsible for assessing the current and future costs associated with those resources.
The BLS states that the median pay for Operations Research Analysts is $72,100 per year, and the job outlook is for an astounding 27% growth between 2012 and 2022.
These are just four of the main tracks that those interested in operations management can take. The operations management career outlook is positive and can be an excellent profession for those who are highly organized, and enjoy the planning and scheduling of activities related to the creation and on-time delivery of quality products at acceptable cost.