There are two ways to attain excellence in operations management: attain a formal education in operations and learn the tricks of the trade on the job.
In the earlier days, when there weren’t many educational institutes offering a formal degree in operations management, learning the trade used to be a valuable virtue (it still is). In fact first operations managers didn’t even know they were such; owner of a deli is an operations manager a large part of his day. People who could not afford to pay for a degree would get a job and work their way up the ladder. It is still in option to work your way up, but the degree does allow you to skip entry levels and start out at a higher management level.
However, in a competitive scenario, organizations are stressing on a formal education. Without education you might get passed on promotion and your rise through the ranks might be significantly slower. Graduate degree in Operations Management will give you an air of confidence.
If you are armed with a formal degree in operations, you will find it easier to enter the operations job market at a higher level of salary and job responsibility.
Types of qualifications available
You can attain two types of qualifications: technical and managerial. The technical qualifications equip you to technically handle organizational operations. You are involved in technical issues related to supply chain management, inventory management, resource management, and delivery management. This is recommended to someone who is math and analytically inclined.
The managerial qualifications will equip you to engage into strategic planning, auditing, and devise measures for quality improvement and overall improvement of inventory practices. Well suited for someone who wants to be in leadership role and be in the middle of action.
Depending on you own aptitude and the type of credentials you want to earn for operations management; you have a wide choice of institutes that offer formal education. Technical education is generally provided by the engineering and technical institutes, while you can earn a management degree in operations management if you are keen on management.
The typical career path for an operations management professional
Though there are two clear lines in operational management, an organization may have its own way of grooming a professional in operations management. An organization may want to have both the technical and management flavor in an individual when he/she is recruited. Which means that you have to be at least ok with numbers and analysis of them, operations manager who cant calculate the optimal inventory level by analysing and calculating past inventory over 3 year period, probably shouldn’t be an Operations Manager.
Keeping this mind, an organization may recruit an individual at the trainee level and put him/her under observation for the first few years so that the professional is able to pick up the nuances of the technical aspects of the job. The individual is groomed technically at least for the first few years with the objective that he/she learns the technical aspects of the job first.
After the professional has satisfactorily picked up the technical aspects, the organization may also give a supervisory role to the professional to supervise the technical operations. Depending on how well the individual performs, a managerial role may be given. If you have a graduate degree in OM, getting those promotions is easier.
The degree may not be a ticket to a high managerial role right away and even after earning a degree, will be expected to learn the operations management practice on the job.
Having said this, organizations do give major importance to formal education in operations management more so then in many other business field degrees, such as communication or marketing. A combination of formal education and practical experience has come to be regarded as a potent combination and a ticket to success in operations management. If you are thinking of becoming an operations manager and like how that career sound, considering a formal education in Ops before getting a job is a good option.
To learn about specific universities and degrees see our Operations management universities