How Do I Become a Director of Operations?

Research what it takes to become a director of operations. Learn about the duties of this job, the education requirements and salary range to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Global Operations & Supply Chain Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Director of Operations?

A director of operations or chief operations officer (COO) provides the overall direction to an organization through planning, policies and coordinating a variety of activities. They must work closely with other executives in the organization to ensure that the company meets its goals. Typically these professionals report to a board of directors and may have to heed their suggestions and direction. Directors of operations may implement new policies or procedures to help daily operations run more smoothly or effectively. They also are responsible for selecting other managers, monitoring the budget and analyzing financial reports. The following chart provides an overview of the education, job outlook and average salary in this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree or Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Education Field of Study Business administration, finance, economics or related field
Key Responsibilities Keeping the organization profitable and in alignment with its policies and goals; ensuring that all operations run smoothly; providing leadership and good judgment in decision making
Job Growth (2014-24) -1% for all chief executives*
Mean Annual Salary (2015) $185,850 for all chief executives*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Degree Do I Need to Become a Director of Operations?

Within any organization, a director of operations is typically one of the highest positions available. Thus, you usually need at least a bachelor's degree to land this job. Relevant majors include business administration or business management, but a more specialized field may also be relevant. Many top executives have a master's degree as well, such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

In addition to a degree, you will likely need considerable experience to advance to this position. You might start as a lower level manager and work your way up within the company. A number of personal skills and characteristics are also important for success in this field, including self-confidence, leadership, decisiveness, flexibility, sound business judgment and excellent communication skills.

What Will I Study?

Many options are available if you decide to pursue an MBA. MBA programs are often designed with the busy professional in mind, so flexible part-time and online options are quite common. Any MBA could help you get a job as a director of operations, but a specialization in management may be particularly beneficial.

Courses in an MBA program often include organizational behavior, financial management, operations management, international business, information systems, leadership, business ethics and strategic management. You'll likely also study economics, macroeconomics, accounting, data analysis and marketing. With full-time study, you can often earn your MBA in two years or less.

What Might My Job Duties Be?

Many different public and private organizations - including corporations, businesses and nonprofit institutions - employ a director of operations. In some cases, the alternative job title of chief operating officer (COO) is used. Your primary job duty as a director of operations will be ensuring that the company's overall operations are conducted properly and align with the company's policies and goals. In a broad sense, this typically involves allocating resources, creating policies and managing daily operations. Specific job duties vary based on the size of the organization, but you might be involved in cost analysis and budgeting, human resource decisions and even sales activities.

Although your schedule may be flexible, you can expect to work at least 40 hours per week as a director of operations. In some cases, long hours, weekend and evening work, and travel may be necessary to effectively monitor operations. If you work for a large organization, you're likely to have many people working under you.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are plenty of related careers in the finance industry that require a bachelor's degree, a few of which include sales managers, financial managers and advertising, promotions, and marketing managers. Depending on the size of the company, all of these positions could report to a director of operations. Sales managers usually oversee a team of sales representatives. They may set sales goals for them and train them. Financial managers work towards the long-term financial goals of an organization. This typically involves managing investments and monitoring the budget. Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers are responsible for creating interest in a particular service or product an organization provides consumers. They may do this through advertisements, marketing campaigns and giveaways.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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