What Is an Operations Manager? A 2024 Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

An operations manager oversees many day-to-day business operations. Discover how you can get a job as an operations manager with these 10 tips.

[Featured image] An operations manager leads a meeting in a company conference room.

Operations managers oversee the day-to-day operations of businesses and organizations. Taking on this role often means performing a range of tasks. One day, you might tackle issues with the supply chain and your inventory; another day, you could hire new staff and draw up a budget. You can learn more about what it takes to get a job in this fast-paced management role.

What does an operations manager do?

Operations management is an upper-level career that requires a certain amount of education and experience to prepare you to support an effective, efficient, and successful business. Tasks range from managing the supply chain to overseeing multiple departments and directing day-to-day business operations. 

Operations managers may hire and train staff, manage inventory, and participate in business planning and strategy. Duties vary depending on the needs of the organization. Some common responsibilities in this role might include:

  • Overseeing the production of goods and services

  • Planning the distribution of resources and materials 

  • Making sure every department meets its goals and key milestones

  • Preparing and overseeing budgets

  • Managing human resources, including personnel documentation, staff communications, and performance reviews

  • Formulating company policies and ensuring compliance

Operations manager salary and job outlook

The average annual wage for operations managers in Canada was $82,355 in July 2024 [1]. Salaries can differ significantly depending on your industry, responsibilities, location, and experience level. Some industries where the average annual wage is higher than average include:

  • Professional, scientific, and technical services:$78,593

  • Manufacturing: $78,593

  • Wholesale trade: $86,590

  • Construction: $78,593

*All data accessed from Glassdoor in July 2024

How to become an operations manager

If you’re interested in building a career as an operations manager, these ten tips can help set you firmly on the path. 

1. Earn your bachelor’s degree in a business-related field.

Most employers look for candidates with at least a bachelor's degree in business-related fields like management or business administration. Your education should focus on developing technical skills like mathematical modeling and statistics and people skills like organizational behavior and leadership. Key courses include financial accounting, business communication, and management principles.

2. Gain business experience in an entry-level role.

Operations manager jobs typically require a few years of professional experience in a management or supervisory role. Start with an entry-level role in the business world to build your skill set, expand your business knowledge, and make connections that could later help you advance your career. Some job titles include retail manager, customer service representative, business operations analyst, and project manager.

As you advance, look for managerial roles in retail, supply chain, or finance where you can gain valuable leadership experience.

3. Find a mentor.

A big part of your role in this job will be mentoring new employees and providing outstanding leadership. One excellent way to learn to lead by example while getting a good feel for the job is by finding a mentor to guide you. This could be a strong, essential relationship that gives you the necessary connections when applying for a leadership job. 

4. Consider getting a master’s degree.

Getting a master’s degree isn’t an absolute must, but some organizations may prefer operations managers with advanced degrees. Look for master's degree programs that include supply chain management, project management, and business ethics courses to lay a strong foundation in key business functions.

5. Get certified.

An industry-specific credential may give you a competitive edge by validating your essential skills to potential employers. Some certifications to consider include: 

  • International Association for Six Sigma Certification

  • ITIL by Axelos

  • Institute of Certified Professional Managers (ICPM) Certified Manager 

  • Supply Chain Management Professional (SCMP)

  • Certification in Production and Inventory Management 

  • Certified Program Management Professional

Prepare for the Six Sigma Yellow Belt, Green Belt, or Black Belt certification exam with Specializations from the University System of Georgia.


6. Build leadership skills.

Effective leadership is among the most important traits of effective operations managers. Strong leadership means identifying and resolving sticking points that prevent teams from meeting their goals, keeping a close watch on operations without micromanaging, and working to ensure that team members are encouraged and enabled to perform at their best.

Leaders help employees and teams stay motivated and supply the tools needed to do the job. They can also address sensitive issues and problems to keep everything running efficiently.

7. Cultivate supply chain management strategies.

The supply chain is a vital lifeline for companies. As an operations manager, you'll be working to create and execute strategies to get the most out of your supply chain and respond to fluctuations and disruptions. Being able to talk to potential employers about your business knowledge and management methodology might help generate interest in you as a candidate.

8. Develop relevant skills.

There’s a lot that’s required of an operations manager. From handling all aspects of inventory and supply chain to hiring and training to readjusting business strategies as circumstances evolve, you’ve got to have a strong set of skills. A few to master include: 

  • Motivating employees to grow within their roles

  • Planning long-term initiatives to achieve company objectives

  • Identify new opportunities for the organization

  • Interpersonal communication

  • Professional judgment

  • Ability to think "big picture"

  • Ability to prioritize  and respond quickly to changes

9. Enhance your resume.

Before applying for a position, customize your resume to the job you’re applying for. Potential employers often filter the resumes they receive through an automated system, so it’s important to include relevant keywords in the job description, certifications, or memberships in professional organizations. 

10. Prepare for the interview.

Potential employers are going to ask you key questions to gauge how you'll perform in your role as an operations manager. For example, you might be asked to talk about how you'd motivate an employee who resists change or about your experience negotiating contracts with suppliers. Taking time to prepare now will help you feel more confident when sitting before an interviewer. 

Get started with Coursera.

Start making progress toward your goals by building a strong educational foundation. If you’re just getting familiar with operations management as a career option, try taking a course like Value Chain Management from the University of Illinois, which is part of their Master of Business Administration degree.  If you’re ready to take your education further, learn more about how a degree in business can help set you on the path to a new career.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Article sources

  1. Glassdoor. “Operations managers salaries in Canada, https://www.glassdoor.ca/Salaries/canada-operations-manager-salary-SRCH_IL.0,6_IN3_KO7,25.htm?clickSource=searchBtn.” Accessed July 9, 2024.

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