If you're interested in working in manufacturing and like to lead projects and people, the role of production manager could be for you
As a production manager, you'll be involved with the planning, coordination and control of manufacturing processes. You'll make sure 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. Many companies are involved in several types of production, adding to the complexity of the role. It's likely that you will be responsible for both human and material resources.
The job is also referred to as operations manager.
As a production manager, you'll need to:
You'll be involved in the pre-production (planning) stage as well as the production (control and supervision) stage. A large part of the job is dealing with people management.
You may also be involved with product design and purchasing. In some larger firms, planners, controllers and production engineers and supervisors will assist you. The role may be integrated with other functions, such as marketing, sales and finance.
Salary will vary according to the size of the organisation, the type of business and its geographical location. Hi-tech companies tend to pay higher salaries than those in more traditional industries.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
You can expect to work around 40 hours per week. The role may involve shift work and unsocial hours to make sure there's cover throughout the production process. Extended hours may be required to meet deadlines or to introduce new systems. You could be on call at weekends or public holidays to deal with problems.
A foundation degree, HND or degree in the following subjects may increase your chances of securing a job:
If you have an unrelated degree, it's still possible to become a production manager if you have sufficient motivation and a willingness to study for the relevant professional qualifications. You may also need to demonstrate that you have an interest and skills in the industry.
Entry without a degree or any relevant qualification might be difficult; however it may be possible to work your way up from a very junior role to production manager. You'll need to build experience and show your willingness to develop within the company.
A number of universities offer degree courses that cover production management, with titles such as:
Postgraduate courses include production management and manufacturing management and are offered at several universities. Search for postgraduate courses in production management.
You will need to have:
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.
You could also consider getting student membership with a related professional body such as The Institute of Operations Management (IOM). This can provide useful resources and help you to keep up to date with news in the industry.
Most manufacturing companies, regardless of size, 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:
Many companies are involved in several types of production, which may include:
Look for job vacancies at:
Recruitment agencies commonly handle vacancies.
Some employers have a formal training scheme that will cover the production process, company policies and the job requirements. Large companies may offer graduate programmes which provide experience in different areas before you specialise. In smaller firms, you may just learn on the job from more experienced colleagues.
One favoured route for those working in industry is to study for the professional qualifications offered by the IOM.
These include the:
Find out more about available qualifications at Institute of Operations Management: Education and Training.
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 are offered by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).
Both the IOM and the CMI offer advice on continuing professional development (CPD).
As a graduate, it's likely you'll start off as a trainee and will gain experience in a number of different aspects of production management, such as materials management, inventory control, configuration analysis, production control and purchasing management. You can then move on to become production supervisor or shift manager before becoming a production manager.
You may decide to eventually pursue a more strategic role and become involved with long-term planning rather than day-to-day operations. There are also opportunities to move into general management.
In larger organisations you may be responsible for production on a number of sites, and opportunities to set up and manage operations overseas may arise with multinational firms.
Progression 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.
You may find that you're encouraged by your employer to complete a professional qualification, which can help with career prospects. You'll also need to continually update your knowledge and experience as new systems and processes become available.