Most employers require production managers to have a bachelor’s degree and 2 to 5 years of related work experience.
Most industrial production managers have a bachelor’s degree in business administration or industrial engineering. Sometimes, production workers with many years of experience take management classes and become a production manager. At large plants, where managers have more oversight responsibilities, employers may look for managers who have a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a graduate degree in industrial management.
Some managers begin working at a company directly after college or graduate school. They spend their first few months in training programs, becoming familiar with the production process, company policies, and safety regulations. In large companies, many also spend short periods of time working in other departments, such as purchasing or accounting, to learn more about the company.
Some industrial production managers begin as production workers and move up through the ranks. They first advance to a first-line supervisory position before eventually being selected for management. Most get a college degree in business management or take company-sponsored classes to increase their chances of a promotion.
Production managers who join a firm immediately after graduating from college sometimes work as first-line supervisors before beginning their jobs as production managers.
Industrial production managers can earn optional certificates that show a higher level of competency in quality or management systems. The Association for Operations Management offers a Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) credential. The American Society for Quality offers credentials in quality control.
Interpersonal skills. Industrial production must have excellent communication skills so they can work with managers from other departments, as well as with the company’s senior-level management.
Leadership skills. To keep the production process running smoothly, industrial production managers must motivate and direct the employees they manage.
Problem-solving skills. Production managers must be able to identify problems immediately and solve them. For example, if a product has a defect, the manger determines whether it is a onetime problem or the result of the production process.
Time-management skills. To meet production deadlines, managers must carefully manage their employees’ time as well as their own.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition