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Operations Manager Career


What is an Operations Manager?


Operations managers oversee a wide range of business functions, from formulating inventory plans and developing key performance indicators (KPIs) to optimizing operational practices and supervising staff. Their responsibilities are not limited to a specific department but span numerous divisions, including purchasing, production, accounting, human resources, facilities management, quality control, and others. Operations managers ensure that processes run smoothly and align with the business’s core objectives. 


What Does an Operations Manager Do?

Everything an operations manager does contributes to their overall goal of improving business functions. While specific day-to-day responsibilities can vary based on the industry, company size, and other factors, some of a manager’s most essential tasks include: 

  • Process optimization. An operations manager is responsible for overseeing business processes to maximize long-term profitability. They consistently monitor production and supply chain operations, identify wastefulness and areas for improvement, and implement strategies to make operations as efficient as possible. 
  • Quality control. Operations managers help ensure that the company’s products and services meet quality standards. They set goals, collaborate with quality control teams, monitor quality assurance systems, and institute changes to meet evolving market conditions and customer demands. 
  • Supporting HR initiatives. Aligning human resources practices with broader operational goals is crucial. Operations managers help HR departments determine staffing requirements and enhance workforce productivity. 
  • Inventory management. Operations managers track inventory and supply levels, implement supply chain and warehouse best practices, forecast needs, and maintain vendor relationships. 
  • Financial management. Operations managers control operational costs, allocate resources, and partner with finance teams to develop budgets. They facilitate a culture of continuous improvement to drive profitability. 
  • Reporting. Operations managers create detailed reports about inventory levels, employee workloads, productivity, and performance. The reports help business leaders determine whether the current processes and policies meet the organization’s needs and make any necessary changes.

Do I Need Certifications to Be an Operations Manager?

Professional certifications demonstrate your industry expertise and commitment to continuous learning. WGU’s business leadership certificate offers a competency-based curriculum that’s specifically designed to give emerging leaders the essential skills they need to inspire, guide, and direct others in a business setting. This certificate includes transferable credits toward a WGU School of Business bachelor’s degree program. Some other certifications you may want to pursue include:

  • Certified Operations Manager (COM)
  • Certified Association Executive (CAE)
  • Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)
  • Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)


How Do I Become an Operations Manager?

If you want to develop excellent leadership skills, tackle complex problems, and juggle multiple responsibilities simultaneously, then a career as an operations manager may be right for you. This position plays a vital role in an organization’s overall success, and it comes with a substantial amount of responsibility.  

Earning a bachelor’s degree in business management is a great way to start your journey toward becoming an operations manager. A business management degree program will teach you business fundamentals such as organizational behavior, principles of management, operations and supply chain management, and financial strategy. 

supply chain management degree can also set the stage for an operations manager career. This bachelor of science degree focuses on data analysis and visualization, business analytics, quality assurance, budgeting and trend analysis, and project management. 

Because it’s a job with crucial responsibilities and a high level of authority, many operations manager positions require education beyond a bachelor’s degree. If you want to enhance your skill set and qualify for advanced positions, consider earning a master’s degree in business administration. This degree program will expand your knowledge of leadership and management principles, accounting, economics, marketing, and other business essentials.

Best Degrees for an Operations Manager


Business Management – B.S. Business Administration

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

Hone your business acumen and garner added respect:

  • Time: 61% of graduates finish within 19 months
  • Tuition: $3,755 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 40 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé this program will teach you include: 

  • Business communication
  • Product development
  • Decision making models
  • Project management strategies
  • Budgeting for business

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 management,...

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

  • Time: Graduates can finish in 12 months
  • Tuition: $4,755 per 6-month term
  • Courses: 11 total courses in this program

Skills for your résumé you will learn in this program include: 

  • Leadership strategies
  • Talent management
  • Communication
  • Data collection and interpretation
  • Financial statements

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.


Supply Chain Certificate – School of Business

Boost your résumé and gain valuable experience with a supply chain...

Boost your résumé and gain valuable experience with a supply chain certificate from the School of Business.

  • Time: 6 months from start to finish.
  • Cost: $2,500 for the certificate.
  • Courses: 4 courses total in this program.

This program is designed for individuals who are ready to take their supply chain experience to the next level and become a front-line leader in their organization.

Whether you want to advance your career in this field, or you're just getting started, a supply chain certificate can help you be ready for your next career step. You'll be prepared to work in a variety of industries including: 

  • Startups
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • IT
  • Retail
  • E-Commerce

Supply Chain and Operations Management - B.S.

This online supply chain and operations management program will prepare...

This online supply chain and operations management program will prepare you for real-world experiences in business.

  • Time: 61% of graduates finish similar programs within 19 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 36 courses in this program.

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Project Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Detail Oriented
  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Operations:

Leadership Certificate – School of Business

Enhance your résumé and take a step in your educational journey with the...

Enhance your résumé and take a step in your educational journey with the help of a leadership certificate from the School of Business.

  • Time: 4 months from start to finish.
  • Cost: $2,250 for the certificate.
  • Courses: 3 courses total in this program.

This program is for emerging leaders, however this program does not require a bachelor’s degree, and provides transferable credit towards a WGU degree program.

Whether you aspire to work for a Fortune 500 organization, a government agency, a non-profit organization, or a fast-paced start-up, this certificate can give you the keys to success in a variety of industries, including:

  • Finance and Banking
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • IT
  • Consulting
  • Nonprofit
  • Government

How Much Does an Operations Manager Make?


The median annual salary for operations managers is $120,016. Base salaries typically range from $93,100 to $144,830 a year. Operations managers may also be eligible for profit-sharing programs that allow them to receive additional compensation in proportion to the company’s financial success. Additionally, sales operations managers may receive commissions based on revenue generation. Your education, experience, industry, and geographic location can significantly influence your salary in an operations manager role. Individuals with post-graduate degrees and substantial business experience often qualify for more prestigious positions and higher salaries than entry-level professionals.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


Businesses must consistently fine-tune operational practices to navigate challenges, and operations managers are pivotal in this pursuit. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for administrative services and facilities managers, which includes operations managers, is expected to grow by 5% from 2022 to 2032. This is faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. The BLS estimates that there will be just over 31,000 openings for administrative services and facilities managers each year during this period. 


What Skills Does an Operations Manager Need?

You’ll need a mix of hard and soft skills to be an effective operations manager. While operations manager roles can vary depending on the organization and industry, proficiency in the following areas is essential: 

Hard Skills

  • Project management. You’ll oversee multiple projects as an operations manager and provide valuable input to numerous teams in your organization. Project management skills will help you manage your time, delegate tasks, and prioritize responsibilities efficiently.
  • Data analysis. Operations managers use quantitative and quantitative data to make informed decisions about process improvements and to anticipate future needs and challenges. 
  • Resource allocation. Workforce capacities, budgetary limitations, and production deadlines require operations managers to carefully distribute resources in a way that maximizes profitability and reduces waste. 
  • Technological proficiency. Operations managers leverage digital tools such as enterprise resource planning systems and AI to gather, assess, and visualize data, evaluate performance, track and manage inventory, and manage customer and vendor relationships. 

Soft Skills

Leadership. Employees, managers, executives, vendors, and other stakeholders look to operations managers for guidance and motivation.

  • Time management. Operations managers oversee dozens of processes and projects simultaneously and must meet tight deadlines, so effective time management is crucial. 
  • Strategic planning. Optimizing processes, managing inventory, and handling other operations manager responsibilities requires strategic thinking, foresight, and adaptability. 
  • Decision-making. As an operations manager, you will make important decisions about complex issues that significantly impact the organization.
  • Communication. The collaborative nature of this job requires strong communication skills. Operations managers must coordinate activities between multiple teams, resolve conflicts, interface with external stakeholders, and present reports on key metrics.  
  • Negotiation skills. Operations managers negotiate contracts with vendors, service providers, and contractors. They work to secure favorable agreements that keep costs low while meeting the organization’s needs. 

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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!

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Interested in Becoming an Operations Manager?

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