Planning, directing and coordinating the activities of a public- or private-sector organization often requires the business acumen and finely honed skills of a director of operations. These executive-level professionals are counted on to keep businesses profitable and competitive through careful management of daily operations, from production to human resources.

The path to this challenging and rewarding career can begin with enrolling in a Master of Business Administration degree program.

Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts 6% job growth for top executives between 2014 and 2024, which is about as fast as the national average for all occupations. The increasing complexity and continuing expansion of the marketplace may spur demand for directors of operations across a wide variety of industries.

Job Duties for Director of Operations

A company’s daily processes and functions dictate the duties of a director of operations. These professionals may work for government agencies, private organizations or publicly held firms. From top-level activities such as formulating policy and strategic planning to directing budgets and determining human resources needs, the responsibilities of a director of operations are typically varied.

In general, a director of operations takes the lead in managing all aspects of the organization’s operations to meet established objectives for growth and profitability. In this role, the operations director may be required to execute financial forecasts, develop tools to control expenses and oversee personnel management. Directors of operations may also oversee the production of goods and delivery of services.

A director of operations may supervise a number of departments, including human resources, accounting, sales and distribution, and marketing. An executive in this role will usually assist department heads in establishing goals, policies, procedures, budgets and personnel needs. They typically take the lead in setting resource requirements, along with allocation and reporting.

Salary Potential for Director of Operations

According to BLS data, general and operations managers earned an average annual wage of $119,460 as of May 2015, with the top 25% in the field earning in excess of $152,270. Average salaries were higher for professionals employed in the financial sector, securities and commodity exchanges, and scientific research and development.

Top executives had an average salary of $102,690 in 2015, although salary levels can vary greatly for these positions, the BLS notes.

Salary potential and employment opportunities are determined by numerous factors, such as work experience and educational qualifications, as well as regional market conditions.

Education and Training Requirements

Qualifications for director of operations positions vary, but a bachelor’s degree and appropriate experience are generally minimum requirements. Employers often show preference to candidates with advanced degrees, such as an MBA.

Coursework in a Master of Business Administration degree program typically includes international business, corporate innovations and new ventures, strategic cost management, and production and operations.

Employers should expect that professionals who have earned an MBA degree are able to:

  • Effectively implement strategic planning initiatives
  • Use analytical thinking to make critical decisions and solve real-world business problems
  • Build consensus among conflicting points of view through active discussion
  • Advance organizational stability through change and risk management

Essential Skills for a Director of Operations

Are you highly organized, attentive to detail and flexible? Are your communication and math skills sharp? Do you want a career with a wide variety of daily challenges? Augmenting these interests and attributes with the knowledge gained through an MBA program could better position you for a career as a director of operations.

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