Industrial production managers oversee the daily operations of manufacturing and related plants. They coordinate, plan, and direct the activities used to create a wide range of goods, such as cars, computer equipment, or paper products.

Duties

Industrial production managers typically do the following:

  • Decide how best to use a plant’s workers and equipment to meet production goals
  • Ensure that production stays on schedule and within budget
  • Hire, train, and evaluate workers
  • Analyze production data
  • Write production reports
  • Monitor a plant’s workers to ensure they meet performance and safety requirements
  • Create ways to make the production process more efficient
  • Determine whether new machines are needed or whether overtime work is necessary
  • Fix any production problems

Depending on the size of the manufacturing plant, industrial production managers (also referred to as plant managers) may oversee the entire plant or a specific area of production.

Industrial production managers are responsible for carrying out quality control programs to make sure the finished product meets a specific level of quality. Often called quality control systems managers, these managers use programs to help identify defects in products, identify the cause of the defect, and solve the problem creating it. For example, a manager may determine that a defect is being caused by parts from an outside supplier. The manager can then work with the supplier to improve the quality of the parts.

Industrial production managers work closely with managers from other departments as well. For example, the procurement (buying) department orders the supplies that the production department uses. A breakdown in communication between these two departments can cause production slowdowns. Industrial production managers also communicate with other managers and departments, such as sales, warehousing, and research and design.

Work Environment: 

Industrial production managers held about 172,700 jobs in 2012. About 75 percent of industrial production managers work in various manufacturing industries.

The manufacturing industries that employed the most industrial production managers in 2012 were as follows:

Fabricated metal product manufacturing 10%
Transportation equipment manufacturing 9
Chemical manufacturing 7
Machinery manufacturing 7
Food manufacturing 7

Industrial production managers split their time between the production area and a nearby office. When they are working in the production area, they may need to wear protective equipment such as a helmet or safety goggles.

Work Schedules

Most industrial production managers work full time and almost half worked more than 40 hours per week in 2012. In some facilities, managers work night or weekend shifts and must be on call to deal with emergencies at any time.

Education and Training: 

Industrial production managers typically need a bachelor’s degree and 1 to 5 years of related work experience.

Education

Employers prefer managers have at least a bachelor’s degree. While the degree may be in any field, many 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.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Many industrial production managers begin as production workers and move up through the ranks. They usually advance to a first-line supervisory position before eventually being selected for management. Most earn 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.

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.

Important Qualities

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 manager 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.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

While not required, industrial production managers can earn certifications 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. Both certifications require specific amounts of work experience before applying for the credential, so they are generally not earned before entering the occupation.

Pay: 

The median annual wage for industrial production managers was $89,190 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in the occupation earned more than the amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $54,250, and the top 10 percent earned more than $150,020.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for industrial production managers in the top five manufacturing industries where these managers worked were as follows:

Chemical manufacturing $99,250
Transportation equipment manufacturing        91,870
Machinery manufacturing        87,270
Fabricated metal product manufacturing        82,730
Food manufacturing        80,430

Most industrial production managers work full time and almost half worked more than 40 hours per week in 2012.

Job Outlook: 

Employment of industrial production managers is projected to show little or no change from 2012 to 2022. Most of these managers are employed in various manufacturing industries, which are expected to see a decrease in overall employment as a result of increased productivity. In the past, employment of industrial production managers was less affected by productivity gains, since these managers were responsible for coordinating work activities with the goal of increased productivity. However, as facilities adapt to this new, leaner production model, employment of workers and managers should be equally affected by productivity increases.

Some manufacturing jobs are at risk of being sent to other countries with lower wages, dampening some employment growth. However, this risk may be reduced by recent trends of “reshoring”, where previously outsourced personnel and services are being brought back to the United States, and “domestic sourcing” where firms move jobs to lower cost regions of the United States instead of to other countries.

Job Prospects

Applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in industrial management or business administration should have the best prospects.

For More Information: 

For more information about careers in production management and certification, visit

Association for Operations Management (APICS)

For more information about quality management and certification, visit

American Society for Quality                                   

For general information about manufacturing careers, visit

National Association of Manufacturers

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2014–2015 Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh.

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