national
Skip to content Skip to Live Chat
Close Nav

Online Degrees

Part of Western Governors University

Operations Manager Career Guide

How To Become an Operations Manager

An operations manager career path is a great choice for people who like to work behind the scenes in an organization. This position is a vital role in the success of any business, no matter how big or small, and you would have the flexibility of working in almost any industry. 

In general, the role of an operations manager is to manage all activities involved in producing the goods and/or services of a business. In the retail industry, for example, an operations manager would manage all activities related to daily retail floor functions as well as planning and strategizing. There are a lot of opportunities in business operations and it’s a great industry to work in. 

If you have strong communication and management skills and thrive in a retail environment, the role of a sales manager will serve as a rewarding career option.

professional man and woman HR

What Is an Operations Manager?

You may be wondering “what does business operations mean?” Business operations are all the activities accomplished behind the scenes to keep the business running. In most businesses, operations managers oversee the big picture of their organization. They are responsible for managing processes, purchasing, accounting, human resources, inventory, and IT. There are different levels to an operations manager’s career path. Operations managers are sometimes also known as chief operating officers, or COOs. Their role is critical in ensuring businesses run smoothly and have everything they need to be effective.

What Does an Operations Manager Do?

The responsibilities of an operations manager will vary for different organizations and industries. But in general, you can expect to do most of the following tasks while working in business operations:

  • Processes: An operations manager is responsible for implementing and maintaining the processes that an organization uses. This includes software and other programs that the organization uses to function every day.
  • Personnel: Human resources is a big part of operations in any organization. As an operations manager, you will either be overseeing the HR department or working very closely to help solve personnel issues.
  • Inventory: This is especially true when for an operations manager who works in retail or for a business that sells specific products.
  • Financials: Accounting and finances are another big part of an operations department. Similar to HR, you will either be overseeing the accounting department or working closely to review budgets, revenue growth, and profitability.
  • Reporting: An operations manager is responsible for reporting on how the business is functioning and whether the implemented processes and policies are working or need changes.

What Education Does an Operations Manager Need?

A bachelor’s degree in business is needed for a job in business operations. This type of degree program will focus on business fundamentals that are critical for success. Things like finances, budgets, supply chain management, and strategy are taught in business management undergraduate programs. This will give you the knowledge and experience you will need to get started in operations management.

A bachelor’s degree alone likely isn’t going to get you a job as an operations manager. You may have to start in a more entry-level position and work your way up. It would also be beneficial for you to obtain your Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA). This additional credential demonstrates skill and mastery in leadership—a key element of any management position. An MBA will focus on leading people, overseeing processes, and creating more advanced strategies for an organization. This is key for operations management.

It’s important to know that most positions will require that you also have some experience before hiring you as an operations manager. You may have to start in a lower-level position and then work towards growing into a managerial role.

Best Degrees for a Operations Manager:

Business Management – B.S. Business Administration

Hone your business acumen and garner added respect:...

Hone your business acumen and garner added...

Hone your business acumen and garner added respect:

  • Time: 68% of graduates finish within 36 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,720 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Account executive
  • Business analyst
  • Program manager
  • Director or senior director
  • Vice president

This online degree program is an excellent choice for kick-starting your organizational management career.

Master of Business Administration

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business...

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on...

The flexible MBA program you need, focused on business management, strategy, and leading teams:

  • Time: 80% of graduates finish within 24 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $4,675 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • President and CEO
  • Vice president
  • Executive director
  • Chief strategic officer

Our competency-based model gives you an innovative learning experience you won't find anywhere else—and our MBA grads tell us they loved accelerating their program to see a faster ROI.


Next Start Date

Start the 1st of any month—as soon as you complete enrollment!

Apply Today

Our online university degree programs start on the first of every month, all year long.

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

Learn about online college admissions at WGU.


A businesswoman works over some business documents with a group of her colleagues.

What Skills Does an Operations Manager Need?

There are skills that every person working in business operations needs to have to be successful in the field. There will be some jobs that require you to have more specific skill sets, but these are a few of the most common skills that you should have:

  • Leadership: As a manager, you will be looked upon as a leader in your organization.
  • Strategizing: Understanding business strategy is of vital importance and you should be able to plan and implement strategies as well.
  • Analyzing: You will be responsible for analyzing processes and policies to ensure they are working for the organization.
  • Decision Making: As an operations manager, you will be responsible for making decisions on behalf of the organization.
  • Conflict Management: This refers to not just personnel conflict, but any conflict that occurs within your organization’s business operations. 

How Much Does a Operations Manager Make?

$66,500

The average income for an operations manager is about $66,500 per year. Your income will be dependent on your education, experience, and geographic location. The low average income for an operations manager is about $43,000 and the high average, for more experienced operations managers, is over $100,000. 

Your salary will likely increase as your experience increases. The more experience and education you have, the more likely it is that your salary will be closer to the average or higher average.

What is the Projected Job Growth?

6%

The job outlook for an operations manager is good. The field is expected to grow by 6% over the next several years. Because of the vital role an operations manager plays in an organization and the fact that there are so many different industries that you can work in, there will always be a reliable need for operations managers.

Where Do Operations Managers Work?

Varies

Operations managers can work just about anywhere. From hospitals to banks and retail stores, just about every organization needs an operations manager to run the day-to-day business. As an operations manager, you could work for many different types of organizations including manufacturers, service providers, banks, credit unions, and retail.

Interested in Becoming an Operations Manager?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this exciting career.

View degree programs