Guide to College Majors in Industrial Management

"Management" means, in the last analysis, the substitution of thought for brawn and muscle, of knowledge for folklore and superstition, and of cooperation for force.
--Peter Drucker

What is Industrial Management?

Manufacturing managers and industrial production managers oversee the workforce, materials, and mechanical or technological logistics of the production process. The details of the production floor will vary widely, but some of the common areas of responsibility are production scheduling, staffing, procurement and maintenance of equipment, quality control, inventory control, and the coordination of production activities with those of other departments. Their planning is done within budgetary limitations and time constraints.

Although a good head for business, a practical approach to problem solving, and strong diplomatic skills are important, a solid business education is important for your success in the field of manufacturing or industrial management.

With an operations management or industrial management degree, you'll focus on developing the following competencies:

  • Developing the mathematical skills to work with budgets
  • Gaining an understanding of production chains
  • Being able to see the big picture of the final output and seeing how the initial details factor in
  • Making informed decisions to solve any problems that crop up mid-production
  • Maintaining product standards
  • Online record-keeping and reporting
  • Working with other departments and senior management

Although there is no standardized minimum level of education in this field, many professionals make their first move into the field after they have attained a bachelor's or master's degree. The manufacturing and industrial production field is expecting a slower than average growth, so in order to be competitive, a career education is a must.

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Career Education in Industrial Management

Associate degrees in business administration, management, technology, or industrial engineering are often the minimum requirements for manufacturing or industrial production supervisors.

Bachelor's Degrees in Industrial Management

A Bachelor of Business Administration in Operations Management offers core business courses with a mix of liberal arts, to help you learn communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Similar online bachelor's degrees can be completed faster if you already have an associate's degree; these programs are designed for a smooth transition into graduate-level courses

Some of the careers you can pursue with a Bachelor of Business Administration / Operations Management degree include:

  • Industrial Production Manager
  • Construction Manager
  • Compliance Officer
  • Production Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • Purchasing Manager
  • Quality Assurance Control Manager
  • Facility Manager
  • Organizational Consultant

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What Can You Do With a College Degree in Industrial Management?

Manufacturing, Industrial, and Operations Management Career Options

Industrial production managers held about 160,000 jobs in 2004. Most are employed in manufacturing industries, such as industrial machinery and equipment, transportation equipment, electronic and electrical equipment, fabricated metal products, instruments and related products, and food. Production managers work in all parts of the country, but jobs are most plentiful in areas where manufacturing is concentrated.

Applicants with a college degree in industrial engineering, management, or business administration enjoy the best job prospects-- particularly those with an undergraduate engineering degree and a master's degree in business administration or industrial management. Employment of industrial production managers is expected to grow more slowly than the average; the right education can help you stand out from the pack. Employers are also likely to seek candidates with excellent communication skills and who are personable, flexible, and eager to enhance their knowledge and skills through ongoing training.

Industrial Management Career Outlook

The declining number of available positions is partly due to productivity gains from the increasing use of computers for scheduling, planning, and coordination. There simply isn't as much hands-on management required. During an average 40+ hour week, a manager's time is usually spent meeting with subordinates or other department managers, analyzing production data, and writing and reviewing reports. Longer hours may be required during production deadlines, and shift work is common in plants that work 24 hours.

Industrial production managers with a proven record of superior performance may advance to become plant manager or vice president for manufacturing. Others transfer to jobs with more responsibilities at larger firms. Opportunities also exist for consultants.

Certification and Licensure

There is no standard accreditation a manufacturing or industrial production manager can obtain, but there may be specific professional associations you can join for networking purposes. You can also attend trade shows where new equipment is displayed, go to conventions at which changes in production methods and technological advances are discussed, or keep up with trends through industry periodicals.

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