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How to Become a Production Manager

Production managers oversee the production process of an organization. They coordinate production activities, which typically include planning workers’ schedules, preparing budgets, and making sure the right resources are available to meet required deadlines. Production managers work with other managers to understand company needs, identify objectives, and clarify requirements. They organize resources and ensure that production runs smoothly and meets all production requirements and deadlines. 

Production managers should be well versed in production procedures and best practices. They must have excellent leadership skills, strong problem-solving skills, and they must be able to meet quality standards while staying within all health and safety guidelines. They are responsible for monitoring production and addressing all issues that may arise. A good understanding of budgeting and tracking production metrics is required, as is proficiency with MS Office and ERP software. Production managers must be able to efficiently manage people and production to optimize the production process.

Sample job description

We’re a diverse and growing manufacturer looking for a solid production manager to lead our team. The ideal candidate will be well-versed in machine operations and manufacturing processes, as well as a very capable manager that can motivate and manage a large workforce. In your role, you’ll be overseeing potentially dozens of staff members across a multitude of departments. These team members may come from production, operations, maintenance, engineering, and quality control in varying numbers. With your expertise, we hope to bring about a safer, more productive, and more cost-efficient production floor.

If you think you have what it takes to be an outstanding team player with great communication skills, and an unrivaled understanding of the manufacturing process, we’d love to hear from you!

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Determine objectives and limitations with other managers
  • Create cost estimates and prepare budgets
  • Structure workflow to meet deadlines
  • Monitor production to resolve issues
  • Evaluate the performance of staff and production personnel 
  • Order and approve maintenance work and replacement equipment
  • Create and enforce health and safety guidelines that align with company goals and regulations

Education and experience

  • Demonstrated management experience in related field
  • Thorough knowledge of production management processes

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent leadership and organizational skills
  • Great attention to detail
  • Proficiency using MS office suite or ERP software
  • Strong decision-making skills with a solution-oriented mindset
  • Outstanding communication skills
  • Understanding of health and safety regulations and quality standards

Preferred qualifications

  • B.S. or B.A. in business administration, industrial engineering, industrial technology, manufacturing, or related field
  • 5 years of prior plant manager, floor manager, or production manager experience
  • Experience with Solidworks or Autocad
  • Management experience
  • Working knowledge of current manufacturing processes
  • Experience speaking to different types of people effectively

Typical work environment

As a production manager, your work environment will shift from a standard office environment to the production floor and executive offices. Depending on location, you may have significant travel. The production environment will generally be dangerous and noisy, typically requiring hearing, sight, and breathing protection. Awareness of surroundings is necessary in this case to avoid contact with moving machinery, metal heated to dangerous temperatures, and caustic chemicals. 

Alternatively, the office environment poses a significantly less physical risk, with occasional lifting and climate control. Generally, the time spent in the office versus on the production floor will be about 40/60.

Typical hours

Production managers can generally expect to work 40 hours a week, with additional hours as necessary to maintain deadlines. Working around staffing hours and acting as a liaison to management may require working later or on weekends in some cases. With that said, the standard working hours of a production manager are typically 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday.

Available certifications

As production managers handle a wide variety of different tasks, there are many institutions that offer certifications, including:

  • CPIM – Certified in Production and Inventory Management. Demonstrating an understanding of what makes supply chains resilient and agile in today’s world, the CPIM shows you how to manage disruptions, mitigate risk, and adapt to demand variations.
  • IPC J-STD-001. This certification is about obtaining the IPC endorsement for the standard process control of materials, methods, and verification criteria for producing high-quality soldered electronics. It demonstrates the user’s thorough understanding of process control and certifies an industry-standard consensus.
  • CMS Certified Manufacturing Specialist. CMS is heavily geared towards programs with a strong manufacturing emphasis. This certification demonstrates the user’s ability to properly handle electronics, technical drafting, woodworking, metrology, polymers, traditional machining, standard industrial materials, production planning and quality, and management and supervision.

Career path

The path leading to becoming a production manager starts with obtaining a relevant degree in the manufacturing field. Afterward, gaining experience in the manufacturing industry is a must. Becoming proficient in a variety of different manufacturing roles is important to enter a management position.

Students that wish to become production managers should seek higher education and further certification on top of work experience to remain competitive in this field. There is very little overlap between manufacturing jobs and other fields, so it’s important to gain and maintain work experience in this specific field in order to effectively manage a team on the manufacturing floor.

Additionally, developing soft skills, like handling disputes, shift conflicts, and motivating and inspiring workers is a must. Being able to shift from communicating with manufacturing staff and upper management effectively is vital in being able to act as an effective and efficient liaison.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 27-3042

2020 Employment189,300
Projected Employment in 2030199,300
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 5% Increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift10,000 increase

Manufacturing is vital to the global supply chain and is only expected to grow in demand. Non-automated manufacturing done in teams will always require planning and oversight by a manager, and the unique specifics of understanding the job will require trained experts to understand the processes involved.

Staying on top of manufacturing techniques and trends along with maintaining certifications and training while accruing both manufacturing and management experience is crucial in maintaining a strong position in this industry.