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How to Become a Business Operations Manager

By Stephen Carrozzino

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A career as a Business Operations Manager is exciting and challenging, perfect for those with a keen interest in business, a knack for problem-solving, and a desire to lead. This comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about becoming a Business Operations Manager – from the essential skills you’ll need to develop to the education pathways you can take and the steps involved in climbing the career ladder.

Career Summary

Business Operations Manager Salary

Business Operations Manager Salary

According to Glassdoor.com, you can expect the following range for a business operations manager’s salary:

  • Entry Salary (US$54k)
  • Median Salary (US$85k)
  • Executive Salary (US$133k)

In comparison to the average income for U.S. citizens, which was around $60,575 as of 2022, Business Operations Managers often earn a higher-than-average salary, especially at the median and executive levels.

What does a Business Operations Manager do?

A Business Operations Manager’s primary responsibility is to ensure that the daily operations of a business run smoothly. This role typically involves managing teams, implementing efficient processes, making key business decisions, and working with both internal teams and external partners. They also handle financial management, vendor management, and strategic planning, among other duties.

Business Operations Manager Career Progression

  • Business Operations Associate: An entry-level role where individuals support the operations team by assisting with various tasks such as project management, process improvement, and data analysis.
  • Business Operations Manager: This mid-level role is responsible for managing daily operations, making key business decisions, managing teams, and coordinating with other departments.
  • Senior Business Operations Manager: In this senior role, individuals often take on more complex projects, lead larger teams, and contribute more to strategic planning and decision-making.
  • Director of Operations: This executive role oversees all operations within a business, develops operational strategies, and works closely with the top executives to achieve the company’s goals.
  • Vice President of Operations/Chief Operations Officer (COO): In larger organizations, business operations managers may have opportunities to progress to the role of a vice president of operations or COO. They are responsible for aligning operations with the organization’s overall strategy and driving operational excellence.
Business Operations Manager Career Progression

Pros:

  • The opportunity to make key decisions that significantly impact a business.
  • Exposure to many different aspects of the business leads to a broad understanding of the organization.
  • The role is often challenging and varied, leading to personal and professional growth.
  • High earning potential, especially at senior and executive levels.

Cons:

  • The role can come with high stress due to its nature of being responsible for many aspects of the business.
  • Long hours are often required, mainly when dealing with operational issues or key projects.
  • The role often requires dealing with conflict, both within teams and with external partners or clients.

Useful Skills to Have as a Business Operations Manager

  • Leadership and Team Management
  • Strategic Thinking and Planning
  • Financial Management and Budgeting
  • Excellent Communication Skills
  • Analytical Thinking and Problem-Solving
  • Understanding of Business Law and Regulations

Popular Business Operations Manager Specialties

  • Supply Chain Operations
  • Financial Operations
  • Sales Operations
  • Human Resources Operations
  • Production/Manufacturing Operations

How to become a Business Operations Manager

Business Operations Manager 5 Steps to Career

Being a Business Operations Manager is a rewarding and challenging career path offering diverse responsibilities. However, getting there involves several steps and a dedicated education and professional development approach.

Education: The First Step to Becoming a Business Operations Manager

Getting a degree in a relevant field is the first step in becoming a Business Operations Manager. It lays the foundation and equips you with the knowledge and skills required in business operations.

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Business Operations Manager?

The short answer is yes. While there are exceptions to every rule, most companies prefer hiring Business Operations Managers with at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration, management, or a related field. A degree tells employers that you understand business principles and management techniques and possess the critical thinking skills necessary for the job.

Why is it Important to Get a Degree in Business Operations Management?

A degree in Business, Operations Management, or a related field is crucial because it provides an in-depth understanding of business principles, processes, and practices. It exposes you to subjects like project management, operations management, logistics, finance, and human resources – all vital components in a Business Operations Manager’s role.

Furthermore, a degree is often a prerequisite for higher-level roles. It serves as an indicator of your commitment, knowledge, and skills in the field.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Degree?

A bachelor’s degree in Business, Operations Management, or a related field typically takes four years to complete. However, the duration can vary depending on the institution, your pace of study, and whether you’re studying full-time or part-time.

The Standard Track: Four Years

In a standard track, you would complete your bachelor’s degree in about four years. This timeline assumes that you’re studying full-time, which usually means taking about 15 credit hours, or roughly five courses, per semester.

Throughout these four years, you’ll delve into various subjects, from the basics of business administration to the nuances of operations management. You’ll study finance, marketing, human resources, supply chain management, project management, and more. In many programs, you’ll also complete capstone projects that allow you to apply your learned skills to real-world scenarios.

Accelerated Programs: Less Than Four Years

Some universities offer accelerated programs that allow you to complete your degree in less than four years. These intensive programs often require a larger course load each semester or may include summer sessions. While challenging, this option could be excellent if you’re eager to dive into your career quickly.

Part-Time Studies: More Than Four Years

Part-time studies could be a viable option if you’re balancing other commitments like work or family. As a part-time student, you would take fewer courses each semester, extending the duration it takes to complete your degree. While this means spending more time before you graduate, it allows for flexibility in managing your education alongside other aspects of your life.

Transferring Credits: It Varies

Perhaps you’ve already completed some college-level coursework and hope to transfer these credits toward your degree in Business, Operations Management, or a related field. The impact on your timeline will depend on how many credits you can transfer and how they align with your new program’s requirements.

How Much Does It Cost to Study Business Operations Management at University?

The cost of studying Business Operations Management can vary greatly depending on the institution, the country, and the type of degree program. As of 2023, the average cost of a four-year degree program in the United States can range from $20,000 to over $100,000. However, numerous financial aid options, scholarships, and work-study programs are available to help offset these costs.

Can I Become a Business Operations Manager through Online Education?

Absolutely! Online education has revolutionized the way we learn, and it’s no different for aspiring Business Operations Managers. Many reputable universities and colleges now offer online degree programs in Business, Operations Management, and related fields, allowing you to balance your education with other commitments.

The advancement of technology has significantly impacted the realm of education, leading to the growth and acceptance of online learning. Online education has become a game-changer, especially for those who wish to balance their pursuit of higher education with other aspects of their lives, such as full-time employment or family responsibilities.

Online degree programs in Business Operations Management can provide a balance between your education and other life commitments. They typically offer the flexibility to complete coursework at your own pace and at times that work best for you. This convenience can be incredibly beneficial if you’re already in the workforce or managing other significant responsibilities.

Web Resources to Learn Skills to Become a Business Operations Manager

Aside from formal education, numerous web resources allow you to learn and develop the skills needed to become a Business Operations Manager. Websites like Coursera, edX, and LinkedIn Learning offer project management, financial management, leadership courses, and more.

Blogs, podcasts, and industry-specific publications like Harvard Business Review and Business Insider can also be invaluable resources. They provide insights into business operations management’s latest trends, challenges, and opportunities.

Practical Experience: The Gateway to Becoming a Business Operations Manager

While education sets the groundwork, nothing can substitute the value of hands-on experience in the field. Gaining practical experience as an aspiring Business Operations Manager involves:

  •   Exploring internships
  •   Understanding the skills you’ll acquire
  •   Learning about the work-life balance in this profession

Internship Opportunities for a Business Operations Manager

Internships indeed serve as a pivotal stepping-stone on the path to becoming a Business Operations Manager. These practical experiences, often undertaken during or shortly after your degree, bridge the gap between academic knowledge and real-world business operation dynamics.

Many organizations – from major corporations to thriving startups and even purpose-driven non-profit organizations – understand the value of internships and hence offer positions in business operations. These opportunities will expose you to the daily responsibilities of a Business Operations Manager. You might assist with project management, contributing to strategic planning, analyzing operational processes, and suggesting improvements.

Internships also offer a fantastic platform for networking. You’ll interact with professionals at various levels within the organization, fostering relationships that could benefit your future career. Moreover, making a strong impression during your internship could lead to a job offer from the same organization.

You can find internships through various sources:

  • University career centers offer listings, connections, and resources.
  • Online job search platforms like Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn have internship listings.
  • Company websites often advertise internship opportunities.
  • Joining professional associations related to operations management provides networking and internship resources.
  • Attend career fairs and networking events to meet employers offering internships.

Make sure to regularly check these sources, tailor your application, and proactively inquire about opportunities.

Skills You Will Learn as a Business Operations Manager

As a Business Operations Manager, you’ll acquire diverse skills essential for driving business success. These can be broadly categorized into technical skills and soft skills.

Technical skills include:

  • Project Management: Overseeing projects from inception to completion.
  • Financial Management: Understanding and managing budgets, forecasting, and financial reporting.
  • Operational Efficiency: Streamlining processes for maximum efficiency.

Soft skills include:

  • Leadership: Guiding, inspiring, and motivating a team.
  • Communication: Effectively conveying information and fostering open dialogue.
  • Problem-Solving: Identifying issues and developing innovative solutions.

Remember, these skills are learned through formal education and honed during internships and on the job.

Work-Life Balance of a Business Operations Manager

The work-life balance of a Business Operations Manager can vary based on factors like the company culture, industry, and individual workload. Since it’s a role that involves overseeing multiple facets of a business, it can be demanding and may occasionally require longer hours or weekend work.

However, with effective time management and the ability to delegate tasks appropriately, Business Operations Managers can achieve a satisfying work-life balance. It’s also noteworthy that many companies today strongly emphasize work-life balance, offering flexible schedules, remote work options, and wellness programs.

What’s the Career Outlook for Business Operations Manager?

Becoming a Business Operations Manager isn’t just about getting the skills and qualifications; it’s also important to understand the career outlook, job opportunities, and types of companies that could be your potential employers. Let’s dive into each of these topics.

What is the Career Outlook for Business Operations Managers in the US?

The career outlook for a Business Operations Manager is generally promising. According to the U.S.News, there is a projected employment growth of 6.7% for business operations managers from 2021 to 2031. This growth rate equates to approximately 209,800 new jobs.

The increasing complexity of global business operations and the need for firms to improve efficiency and control costs are among the factors driving this growth. As a Business Operations Manager, you can expect a dynamic and evolving career that responds to these demands.

Business Operations Manager Popular Career Specialties

Job Opportunities for a Business Operations Manager

As a Business Operations Manager, you’ll find job opportunities in various industries, given the versatile nature of this role.

Here are some common job opportunities for business operations managers:

  • Operations Manager: Business operations managers often start their careers as operations managers. In this role, they oversee day-to-day operations, manage teams, and ensure efficient business processes.
  • Supply Chain Manager: Many business operations managers specialize in supply chain management. They are responsible for managing the flow of goods and services, coordinating with suppliers, optimizing inventory levels, and ensuring timely delivery.
  • Process Improvement Manager: Business operations managers with expertise in process improvement may work as process improvement managers. They identify inefficiencies, streamline processes, implement best practices, and drive continuous improvement efforts.
  • Business Analyst: Some business operations managers transition into business analyst roles. They analyze data, identify trends, provide insights for decision-making, and support strategic planning and operational improvements.
  • Operations Consultant: Business operations managers may work as consultants, either independently or as part of consulting firms. They provide expert advice to organizations on improving operational efficiency, optimizing processes, and implementing best practices.

What Type of Companies Hire a Business Operations Manager?

Due to the versatile nature of the role, almost every type of company needs a Business Operations Manager.

Here are a few examples:

  • Large Corporations: Many large corporations hire business operations managers to oversee and optimize their operations across multiple departments or business units. These corporations span various industries such as technology, manufacturing, retail, finance, healthcare, and more.
  • Startups and Scale-ups: Startups and scale-up companies often require business operations managers to establish and streamline their operations as they grow. These managers play a crucial role in setting up efficient processes, managing resources, and ensuring smooth day-to-day operations.
  • Consulting Firms: Consulting firms frequently hire business operations managers to work with clients on improving their operational efficiency, optimizing supply chains, and implementing process improvements. These managers provide valuable insights and recommendations to drive operational excellence for client organizations.
  • IT companies: The IT field offers a wealth of opportunities for Business Operations Managers. You could manage project delivery, streamline operational processes, or even handle client relationships. With the rise of tech companies and the digitalization of businesses, the demand for Business Operations Managers in this sector is more than ever.
  • Financial Institutions: Business Operations Managers are vital in the world of finance. Banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions rely on them to streamline processes, manage teams, and deliver financial services. In this industry, you might oversee the implementation of regulatory changes, manage risk, or develop strategies to increase customer satisfaction.
  • Retail and E-commerce Companies: In the retail and e-commerce industry, Business Operations Managers ensure that all operations, from order processing to delivery, run smoothly. You may also be responsible for inventory management, customer service, and digital marketing. The goal is to ensure customers’ seamless shopping experience and improve business performance.
  • Manufacturing and Production companies: The manufacturing industry is a popular sector for Business Operations Managers. As a manager in this field, you’ll be critical in overseeing production processes, ensuring quality control, managing supply chains, and coordinating with other departments for seamless operation. Your skills will be instrumental in increasing efficiency, reducing waste, and contributing to the bottom line.

Should I become a Business Operations Manager?

Making a career choice is a significant decision that has far-reaching implications on your professional life and personal satisfaction. Having covered the steps to becoming a Business Operations Manager, the different sectors offering opportunities, and the career outlook, you might now wonder, “Is this the right path for me?” Let’s discuss some considerations to help you make an informed decision.

First and foremost, it’s essential to understand the role of a Business Operations Manager thoroughly. This position requires a balance of technical knowledge, interpersonal skills, and problem-solving knack. You’ll be expected to wear many hats – from managing people and projects to making strategic decisions that impact the business’s bottom line.

Consider your strengths, skills, and areas of interest. Do you enjoy leading and managing teams? Are you good at strategizing and problem-solving? Are you keenly interested in business processes and how to improve them? If the answer to these questions is yes, you might find a career as a Business Operations Manager both fulfilling and rewarding.

A career in business operations management can provide numerous opportunities for growth and advancement. However, remember that this role can also be demanding. While it offers diverse responsibilities and learning opportunities, it may also require long hours and the ability to handle high-pressure situations.

Ultimately, choosing a career is more than deciding what you will do to make a living. It’s about finding a path that resonates with who you are, what you’re good at, and where you want to be in the future. Take a moment to reflect on the journey of becoming a Business Operations Manager and whether this career path aligns with your aspirations, skills, and interests.

Careers Related to Business Operations Manager

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I transition into a Business Operations Manager role from a different field?

It’s possible to transition into a Business Operations Manager role from different fields, especially those related to business administration, finance, or project management. Your transferable skills, such as leadership, problem-solving, and strategic planning, can be valuable in a business operations role.


Can I work remotely as a Business Operations Manager?

With the advent of digital technologies and the shift towards remote work in many industries, working remotely as a Business Operations Manager is possible. However, this can depend on the company’s policies and the nature of the work.

What’s the difference between a Business Operations Manager and a Project Manager?

While there’s some overlap, a Business Operations Manager typically oversees the day-to-day operations of a business or department. At the same time, a Project Manager manages specific projects from initiation to completion. Both roles require strong leadership and organizational skills.


Are they any professional organizations for Business Operations Managers?

Yes, several professional organizations exist for Business Operations Managers, such as the American Management Association (AMA) and the Production and Operations Management Society (POMS). These organizations offer resources, networking opportunities, and professional development programs.


What are the most challenging aspects of being a Business Operations Manager?

Some common challenges include managing teams, making strategic decisions under pressure, and constantly looking for ways to improve efficiency and effectiveness. However, these challenges can also provide opportunities for growth and learning.


Can i pursue a part-time or flexible role as a Business Operations Manager?

While full-time roles are more common, part-time or flexible roles may be available, depending on the company and the nature of the work. Some companies may offer flexible working hours or remote work options to accommodate different needs and lifestyles.


Stephen Carrozzino

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