In this post, we will examine the plant production manager job description, work environment, required education and training, typical tasks, compensation, outlook, and other topics of interest.
A plant production manager works in a plant and oversees the day-to-day operations of production, such as using inputs, clearing bottlenecks, maintaining standards, and otherwise ensuring that production is smooth and on target. One plant might have one or more managers, and they might be divided up by shift, area, or some other category.
Job Overview: What Does A Plant Production Manager Do?
The plant production manager job description includes many different tasks. For example, managers are generally responsible for making sure that the labor force and equipment are performing according to protocol and standards. They create reports on production and are in charge of hiring and firing.
A production manager knows the timeline and goals of the current task and makes decisions about employing more workers or machines, using overtime, taking on more inputs, and otherwise manipulating productive capacity to reach those goals. Production managers should keep an eye out for potential savings, and must carry out quality control of the production output.
Production Manager Job Duties
- Ensure that production in the plant is performing at the required level to reach goals and is within safety rules.
- Communicate with the purchasing team to decide on what to buy to maintain production flow and control costs.
- Carry out quality control tests so that the production output meets the relevant standards.
- Analyze on-floor performance using production data to look for bottlenecks and other problems.
- Build reports to summarize performance and any potential issues going forward.
Production Manager Job Essential Skills
Plant insight. A production manager needs a keen, insightful eye for the production process. Safety and throughput depend on being able to spot problems before they become significant. The earlier a savings can be spotted, the more the plant will save over time. Picking key stats out of reports or observing key concerns on the floor are core parts of the job.
Plant knowledge. A production manager needs to know their plant completely. That entails understanding the job of each worker and the characteristics of every machine. More knowledge means faster decision-making and better foresight.
Becoming a Production Manager
There are two main ways to become a plant manager: work your way up from a production worker, or graduate with a degree in industrial management or business and start directly. Accumulated work experience is highly valuable, but employers typically want a bachelor’s and even an MBA.
Qualifications and Training
A bachelor’s in management or industrial engineering is a valuable qualification to become a plant manager. Oftentimes, plants provide opportunities for workers to take free classes or get tuition credit to help them acquire these degrees if they do not have them already.
There are no certifications or licenses to acquire, but the bigger the plant and the company, the more likely is that they will want a higher level of education. For that reason, these companies often offer support for taking night classes for both current managers and line workers. The company values a worker who already knows the plant and who has work experience.
In general, it is hard to get a production manager job without extensive experience or a closely related degree from a well-known school. It is common for production manager aspirants to start off with a supervisor role, which is a step up from line worker, as a way to gain managerial experience.
This is most common for production workers, but college grads coming straight from school also spend some time as supervisors. Big plants might also have junior and senior managers, so it might be necessary to spend time in the lower ranks before moving up.
The working hours are totally dependent on the plant and the company policies. For example, if the plant has a third shift, then this might be given to less experienced managers, because there tends to be a lower level of production at that time, and hence fewer things can go wrong.
This might also just come down to whatever shift the plant needs a manager for, so it is hard to predict. In general, working hours are tightly regulated by policy and union rules, which includes overtime rules as well.
Job Outlook & Advancement Opportunities
The prospects of moving up from plant manager depend on the plant. In some cases, it is possible to move up through a hierarchy of managers who have progressively greater responsibilities. The benefits of doing so include better pay and benefits, and greater opportunities for other positions. Currently, the median annual salary of a plant production manager is of $87,389.
On the other hand, the job prospects for production managers in general are not particularly bright. The manufacturing sector as a whole is in the middle of a long period of shrinkage. The combination of outsourcing and increased automation means that factories simply do not produce as much as they used to. All factory careers have less demand for positions now than they used to, and that includes managing positions.
Production managers have a great diversity of tasks to oversee, and they are in charge of people, equipment, and processes worth millions of dollars. There is good opportunity to advance from a floor worker up to production manager, to enter the managerial level from school, or both.
Production managers have to contend with all of the daily operations of the plant, make sure all standards and protocols are being followed, coordinate with other departments in the supply chain, uphold safety and discipline, and more. The biggest threat in the plant production manager job description is the gradual shrinking of manufacturing, as workers are replaced by machines and as more economic activity takes place in the service sector instead.