Skip to content Skip to Live Chat


Operations Manager Career


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 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.


How Do I 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. 

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

What Are the Education Requirements for an Operations Manager?

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 as well as our supply chain management degree. 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 organizations 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 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: 70% of graduates finish within 42 months.
  • Tuition: $3,755 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 40 total courses in this program.

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.

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: 70% of graduates finish similar programs within 42 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 36 courses in this program.

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

  • Operations Manager
  • Facilities Manager
  • Industrial Production Manager
  • Distribution Manager
  • Buyer/Purchasing Agent
  • Project Management Specialist

With incredible growth opportunities in supply chain and operations management, this program helps prepare students to meet industry needs and become credentialed experts.

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.

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.

Leadership Certificate – College 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 College of Business, powered by WGU Academy.

  • 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 average income for an operations manager is about $71,132 per year. Your income will be dependent on your education, experience, and geographic location. The low average income for an operations manager is about $47,000 and the high average, for more experienced operations managers, is over $111,000. 

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?


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.


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. 

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!

Next Start Date

Interested in Becoming an Operations Manager?

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