A production manager is involved with the planning, coordination and control of manufacturing processes. They ensure that goods and services are produced efficiently and that the correct amount is produced at the right cost and level of quality.
The scope of the job depends on the nature of the production system: jobbing, mass, process, or batch production. Many companies are involved in several types of production, adding to the complexity of the job. Most production managers are responsible for both human and material resources.
The job role is also referred to as operations manager.
The exact nature of the work will depend on the size of the employing organisation. However, tasks typically involve:
A production manager is involved in the pre-production (planning) stage as well as the production (control and supervision) stage. A large part of production management involves dealing with people, particularly those who work in your team.
Production managers are also involved with product design and purchasing. In a small firm you may have to make many of the decisions yourself, but in a larger organisation planners, controllers, production engineers and production supervisors will assist you.
In progressive firms, the production manager's role tends to be more closely integrated with other functions, such as marketing, sales and finance.
Salary figures are intended as a guide only.
Although this area of work is open to all graduates, a degree in the following subjects may increase your chances:
However, a qualification in other disciplines (e.g. civil engineering, business studies) would not preclude a person from working in production management given sufficient motivation and a willingness to study for the relevant professional qualifications.
Entry without a degree or any relevant qualification might be difficult; however, you may progress from a very junior role to production manager if you are able to demonstrate your motivation and willingness to develop within the company.
A number of universities offer degree courses in production management, with titles such as manufacturing engineering, design engineering and manufacturing management, manufacturing systems engineering, food production management, manufacturing management, etc. Postgraduate courses including production management are offered at Teesside, Middlesex, Nottingham, Loughborough, Hertfordshire, Liverpool John Moores and London South Bank universities, and more.
Pre-entry experience, while not essential, would be very useful, whether it takes the form of vacation employment or a work placement in an industrial environment during your course. If formal schemes are not open to you, try to arrange a work-shadowing placement or some temporary work.
Candidates will need to show evidence of the following:
For more information, see work experience and internships and search courses and research.
When starting a new job, you may have to pass through a company's training programme. These programmes acquaint trainees with the production process, company policies, and their job requirements. Larger companies may also assign new employees to work in other departments, such as purchasing and accounting in order to get a broader picture of the organisation. Certain degree and HND courses include industrial placements.
One favoured route for those working in industry is to study for the professional qualifications offered by The Institute of Operations Management (IOM) . These include:
The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) also offers a great range of qualifications in management, including general and specific management and leadership qualifications, as well as the opportunity to achieve chartered management status.
Both the IOM and the CMI offer advice on continuing professional development (CPD).
Graduates often start off as trainees and gain experience in a number of different aspects of production management (such as materials management, inventory control, configuration analysis, production control, purchasing management) before moving on to become production supervisor or shift manager.
Some production managers eventually pursue a more strategic role and become involved with long-term planning rather than day-to-day operations. There are often opportunities to move into general management. In larger organisations a production manager may well be responsible for production on a number of sites, and opportunities to set up and manage operations overseas may arise with multinational firms.
There is no one tried-and-tested way of moving up in the profession. This depends on your personal motivation and interest, as well as your career choices. The role varies significantly among different sectors and, therefore, you may end up specialising in one sector.
Many who are new to the profession find that they are encouraged by their employers to acquire a professional qualification, and it may well prove advantageous to do so. In any case, managers need to continually update their knowledge and experience as new systems and processes become available.
Most manufacturing companies - large and small - have a production manager, though the actual title will vary. In very small companies, which are often privately owned, the job may be combined with other functions.
Manufacturing companies can be found in numerous and varied industries, including:
Production managers are also employed in chemical engineering, heavy engineering, textiles and the printing industry.
Many companies are involved in several types of production, which may include:
Recruitment agencies commonly handle vacancies. See Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) for a list of relevant agencies.
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