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Industrial Production Managers - What They Do

How to Advance (Advancement)
Some industrial production managers earn certifications that show their competency in various quality and management systems. Although certification is not required for industrial production manager jobs, it may improve job prospects.

One credential, Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), is offered by APICS, the Association for Operations Management, and requires passing a series of exams that cover supply chain management, resource planning, scheduling, production operations, and strategic planning. Those certified must complete a set number of professional development activities every 3 years to maintain their certification.

The American Society for Quality offers the Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE) credential. This certification is open to managers who pass an exam and who have at least 10 years of experience or education, 5 of which must be in a decisionmaking position. It is intended for managers who lead process improvement initiatives. To maintain certification, workers must complete a set number of professional development units every 3 years.

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

Industrial production managers held about 156,100 jobs in 2008. About 80 percent are employed in manufacturing industries, including fabricated metal product, transportation equipment, and computer and electronic product manufacturing. Production managers work in all parts of the country, but jobs are most plentiful in areas where manufacturing is concentrated.

Job Outlook
Employment is expected to decline moderately. Applicants with experience in production occupations, along with a college degree in industrial engineering, management, or a related field, will enjoy the best job prospects.

Job Growth
Employment of industrial production managers is expected to decline moderately by 8 percent over the 200818 decade. Overall manufacturing employment is expected to decline as the production process becomes more automated. However, because industrial production managers coordinate the use of both workers and machines in the production process, they will not be as affected as other occupations by automation. Nevertheless, the employment decline will result from improved productivity and increased imports of manufactured goods.

Efforts to increase efficiency at the management level have led companies to ask production managers to assume more responsibilities, particularly as computers and production management software allow managers to coordinate scheduling, planning, and communication more easily among departments. In addition, more emphasis on quality in the production process has redistributed some of the production manager's oversight responsibilities to supervisors and workers on the production line. However, most of the decisionmaking work of production managers cannot be automated, a factor that will limit the decline in their employment.

Despite the projected employment decline, a number of jobs are expected to open because of the need to replace workers who retire or transfer to other occupations. Applicants with experience in production occupations, along with a college degree in industrial engineering, management, or business administration (particularly those with an undergraduate engineering degree and a master's degree in business administration or industrial management), will enjoy the best job prospects. Employers also are likely to seek candidates who have excellent communication skills and related work experience and who are personable, flexible, and eager to enhance their knowledge and skills through ongoing training.

Median annual wages for industrial production managers were $83,290 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $64,390 and $108,710. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $50,330, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $140,530.

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