Just to warn you, we’re not here to talk about the people that manage television, film or theatre productions. No, no! The production managers that oversee manufacturing activities and manage industrial production processes are the real stars of this article.
Producing quality goods in an efficient, timely and cost-effective manner is no mean feat. Consequently, someone needs to take charge of the whole production lifecycle. This is where production managers come in! Their managerial responsibilities begin with pre-production planning and resource allocation and end with post-production quality checks and packaging for onward distribution.
It doesn’t really matter what kind of production process or level of output you are dealing with – i.e. batch production, mass production, limited production or process production – your responsibilities tend to remain the same.
Essentially, you’ll be responsible for planning, implementing and managing production schedules to make sure cost, quality and productivity targets are met. Furthermore, you’ll be implementing and tracking production efficiency initiatives, managing factory staff and making sure all production activities adhere to health and safety legislation, employment laws and environmental regulations.
Furthermore, you may be responsible for training production personnel, reviewing existing production processes, making improvements and coordinating machinery maintenance and equipment upgrades.
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for junior-level production managers range between £20,000 and £25,000, while production managers with a bit more experience can earn between £25,000 and £40,000 per annum.
Senior production managers can earn between £40,000 and £70,000 a year.
Production activities usually operate on a 24/7 basis in order to meet company revenue targets and satisfy consumer demand. Consequently, shift work is standard, meaning irregular working hours are common.
Work is mainly plant or factory-based, with opportunities for office-based work increasing with promotion.
In order to break into this line of work, you’re going to need an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in a relevant subject, such as mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, automotive engineering, chemical engineering, electronic engineering, civil engineering, physics, chemistry, business studies or production management.
Before applying, it may also be useful for you to gain relevant work experience and develop a certain amount of familiarity with manufacturing systems and production techniques.
Candidates without a degree may be able to enter this profession at a junior level and work up the career ladder, although it must be noted that this process can take a serious amount of time.
Training & progression
Most employers offer structured training programmes, involving practical training placements and periodic business skills refresher programmes. Moreover, some organisations may offer financial support so that you can obtain relevant professional credentials or advanced academic qualifications, including courses offered by professional bodies, such as the Institute of Operations Management (IOM).
Opportunities for career progression include: policy development and strategic management positions, specialisation in a particular manufacturing industry, or roles focusing on business development.