Bachelor’s in Operations Management Degrees & Programs Guide

Bachelor’s Degree in Operations Management Career Options & Salary

When you think of operations management, you should think of the logistics of moving a product from Point A to Point B, maintaining the quality of the product and of your services in shipping it to customers, and forecasting what the need may be in the next two or three quarters for both the product and the materials needed to create the product.

An operations manager may work in environments such as healthcare, production development, system design, technology management, hospitality, and more. At the bachelor’s level, you’ll be getting the broad basics of business and supply chain management along with other skills that focus on efficiency. When you enter this field, your knowledge and skills are needed daily. You’ll ask things like why people are waiting in line and whether the business is handling lines better than their competitors.

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What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree is a four-year degree that you can earn after graduating from high school or gaining your GED. If you plan to continue earning more-advanced degrees, a bachelor’s degree is a requirement for both a master’s and a doctoral (PhD) degree.

Going to school to earn a bachelor’s degree is more complex than going to the high school in your community; you need to be officially admitted to the college or university offering the degree you want. You’ll begin by applying to the schools you’re most interested in. This includes answering questions on the application form, submitting your high school transcript and college testing scores, and perhaps even a campus visit and interview. You may also have to write an essay for each institution you’re most interested in attending.

Next, you need to decide whether you’re going to attend a traditional (in-person) college or take your classes online. Once you’ve been admitted to a college or university, you need to start taking and passing your classes so you can earn the credits you need to graduate. When you have successfully passed every required class and elective, usually a bachelor’s requires about 120 credits and many classes offer 3 credits each, then you are ready to graduate.

Where Can You Earn an Operations Management Degree?


To take the classes that allow you to earn your bachelor’s degree, you have to go to a college or university that offers the degree program you want. These colleges and universities may be public, private, online schools, liberal arts colleges, or career colleges.

If you want to go to school in your state, your high school counselor can help you figure out what each colleges strengths are and make sure they line up with what you are looking for. They will also help you get started with the process of requesting admission. No matter where you live, you’ll be able to find many options for colleges and universities you can attend. It’ll be up to you to figure out which ones offer the degree program you’re interested in.

On average, you will be required to earn 120 college credits; some will require that you earn a few more. This process should take you about 4 years, depending on whether you’re able to carry a full load of classes each semester. Students who attend part-time or change their major halfway through another take longer to finish their degrees, sometimes taking up to 6 or 7 years altogether.

Online Vs. Traditional Education in Operations Management


Consider whether you want to go to traditional (in-person, on-campus classes) or online classes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, universities and colleges all across the country went to a remote (online) format to protect students, faculty, and staff. This might give you the opportunity to find more feedback on online programs from the students who have actually attended class online during this period, whether they wanted to or not.

Online learning has been becoming more and more popular from 2002 into the present. But. . . is an online format a good fit for your temperament and personality? Are you able to manage your time effectively and submit your assignments in a timely manner? If either one of these gives you trouble, then an on-campus format may be a better choice for you.

Some advantages of an online degree program are that you can attend classes from the comfort of your home and save on gas and vehicle wear and tear. You may learn more by working solo rather than being surrounded by a classroom of students rustling paper, leafing through textbooks, or sending text messages on the sly.

In a planned online degree program, course content is designed for the online environment. Interactive learning may have been redesigned for an online format.

An operations management degree program is usually housed within the Business College or department at your university. You’ll take a roster of business classes, then focus on operations management and possibly supply chain management. If you are taking your degree program on-campus, you will be able to collaborate on questions with classmates. Some class projects may require that you work on a typical operations management issue, such as delays in getting a shipment delivered. An online format may require plenty of forum discussion in order to earn class credit while an on-campus format may use this as an opportunity to get you to work with a smaller group as a team.

What are the Admission Requirements for a Operations Management Bachelor’s Degree?


Beginning with admission requirements, you need to submit several documents to your universities of choice before being officially admitted to a college. Part of this might include filling out the Common Application or Coalition Application if you choose to do so. You can create your account on one of these apps and start gathering all documents requested by each college you’re interested in.

Bachelor’s degree admission requirements vary from school to school. Some require that you have a certain average high school GPA and others require that you reach a certain score threshold on your SATs or ACTs.

However, the usual requirements are these:

  • Application
  • High School Transcripts (if an average GPA is required, this is how they will find it)
  • SAT/ACT Scores
  • Recommendation Letters
  • Essay

Some schools, particularly public state schools, are more lax in their requirements than most private schools.

As you are in your first year or two of school, you’ll run into some notations in the course catalog, such as ‘prerequisites’. This means that you have to complete a specific course before signing up for a class in your organizational management major. For instance, if you are signing up for next semester’s classes, you may see “Prerequisite: ECON 203” listed after a class you have to take. You need to take and pass ECON 203 before you sign up for that particular class.

Why Earn a B.S. Degree in Operations Management?


The most important reason to earn a bachelor’s degree is that companies looking for organizational managers require that applicants hold at least this level of degree. Keeping this in mind, the degree you want should match as closely as possible the goals you have set for yourself.

Because you’re interested in a career in business, perhaps specifically organizational management, you should know that a bachelor’s degree will align more closely with the responsibilities and duties of this role. For instance, the program focus of an associate degree is more technical and offers fewer general business studies than those needed in an organizational manager’s role.

Next, the earning potential is higher with a bachelor’s degree in hand. High school graduates who do not earn a higher-level degree earn an average of just over $38,000 annually. Those with an associate degree earn just over $7,000 more than those with a high school diploma. And those with bachelor’s degrees earn closer to $65,000 annually on average.

Look at your intended career path. If you plan to earn a master’s or doctorate, a bachelor’s degree is mandatory. Returning to school for your master’s degree in organizational management means you’re going to delve more deeply into specific areas of knowledge. Because you’ve already taken your gen-ed courses, you won’t have to worry about them again.

Why a Degree in Operations Management?


With this degree, you open yourself for positions in many different fields. These include quality control, production planning, industrial engineering, inventory control, or production supervision. You’ll find that the operations management degree programs are housed within the Business College—a large part of your work in operations management involves finance and other business functions.

Look for a degree program that mentions continuing education, the opportunity to advance into a master’s degree program or even new career options. If you’ve already earned your associate degree, the operations management degree program at the bachelor’s level will allow you to build on the credits you earned in your community college program.

Good operations management degree programs offer opportunities for research and internships. These both give you real-life knowledge and experience beyond your textbooks. You should also ask about certification opportunities as well; earning certifications makes you more valuable to employers, whether you’re seeking advancement with your current employer or you are planning to seek a position elsewhere.

What’s Involved in a Bachelor’s Degree?


First, you’ll need to earn a higher number of credits to graduate than you will in an associate degree program; 120 to be precise. You’ll be able to finish in four years if you attend full-time. You’ll learn analysis, design, and how to launch the operation of difficult management systems. Some schools may also require you to complete a capstone course in strategic management. This can help you to pull together all of your learning.

If you are naturally detail-oriented and organized, you’ll be able to capitalize on this in your degree program. Any well-designed operations management degree program gives you the tools you need to put yourself in the right position so that you’ll succeed in your profession. This will often include learning the skills and knowledge needed to apply both statistical and quantitative modeling techniques to data you are working on. You’ll be able to use what you learn to make the right decisions and improve your employer’s performance.

Common Courses

  • Business Communication
  • Financial Accounting
  • Core Financial Management
  • Laws for Business Leaders
  • Decision Analysis
  • Process Analysis and Improvement
  • Operations Strategy with Integrative Project
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Marketing
  • Working Skillfully in Organizations
  • Law for Business Leaders
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Applied Analytics and Data Visualization
  • Forecasting

What to Consider When Choosing a Bachelor’s Program for Operations Management


Accreditation


Accreditation is a vital recognition for universities, colleges, and community colleges alike. The US Department of Education has approved agencies that inspect and recognize colleges and universities as accredited throughout the country. For instance, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) accredits educational institutions in the middle part of the country. The New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) accredits colleges and universities in the New England region. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) accredits institutions in the Northwest part of the country. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accredits universities and colleges in the South. The WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) as well as the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredits colleges and universities in the West. All of these accreditation agencies are recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

There are also groups that provide programmatic accreditation for business, nursing, teaching, etc. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) accredits business programs throughout the US. It is responsible for reviewing these specialized programs and single-purpose freestanding institutions.

Without accreditation you may not have access to financial aid, credit transfers, AP credits, and more. You may also not be able to find work after you finish school if you attend somewhere without accreditation. Schools take this seriously, and so will prospective employers. Make sure to check the accreditation of any school you consider attending.

Further Operations Management Education


Master’s Degree


What does a Master of Science in Operations Management mean for you? In short, these programs can give you the chance to grow your knowledge, develop stronger leadership abilities, and develop a way of connecting with others. You’ll also finish with a much stronger professional performance and understanding of workflow processes on the job.

These two benefits roll in easily with each other. Earning an MS in Operations Management allows you to increase your potential for advancement in this field. You may become a manager sooner than if you do not earn a master’s. Your salary will also benefit: the median pay for an operations and supply chain manager was $75,000 in the US in recent years.

MBA


Following through with a decision to earn your MBA in Operations Management will allow you to realize several benefits. As an MBA in this field, you’ll be the person ensuring that company operations are running smoothly; this is complex on the best days as it involves coordinating information, employees, resources, and equipment.

If you decide to stay in your current position, your new MBA means you could see a significant increase in your salary. Your mid-career salary may float somewhere in the $120,000 to $140,000 range. Logisticians (operations managers) may see a salary increase of $28,000.

Doctorate or PhD


Going all the way to the top and earning your Doctorate in Operations Management gives you access to the newest theories in logistics. You’ll be able to explain them to government officials, business leaders, and industry leaders. You may choose to either defend the country (helping the military to plan their actions and source the material service members need. Your salary may begin at $117,000 and go up to $148,000.

You may also decide to teach operations management in business schools, working as a professor. At your educational level, you will have the knowledge you need to teach students and gain a tenured position. Here, your salary is likely to be around $117,400.

Operations Management Certification Options


Beyond your degree in operations management (either a bachelor’s or master’s), you should plan on earning certifications in operations management. Having these listed on your resume and personnel file will help you to earn both promotions and higher salaries.

The education and certifications will depend on the industry in which you are working.

Some certifications credentials include:

  • Certified Manager (CM)
  • Certified Supply Chain Professional Program (CSCP)
  • Certification in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM)
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP)

Beyond your education and certification, you should also expect to have several years of work experience backing you up as you prepare to advance into management. If you don’t yet have the qualifications and experience that are required by your employer, it may be more difficult for you to advance in your career.

What organizations offer these certifications? There are several. The Institute of Certified Professional Managers offers the CM credential. A major part of earning this recognition is studying the materials, attending continuing education workshops and webinars, and obtaining mentorship from a supervising manager.

This can lead to improved salary and benefits. As an operations manager, you’ll already be one of the highest-paid professionals in your organization. The median annual salary for operations managers used to be $91,570; but this may differ, depending on the organization’s size and the industry in which it operates. Aside from salary, the benefits offered will likely include sick leave, paid leave, stock options, retirement savings plans, profit sharing, and/or performance bonuses.

Potential Careers for Operations Management Graduates


  • Business Analyst:
    You may work in a public or private sector organization, analyzing business trends and making recommendations.

  • Production Planner:
    Here, you’ll work with the production line, deciding when products are going to be manufactured. You may work closely with several top-line supervisors.

  • Materials Manager:
    In this position, you are responsible for sourcing and obtaining the materials your employer needs to manufacture the products it sells—from the fittings to every piece needed to build the item.

  • Design and Development:
    You may work for an auto manufacturer, designing the company’s newest vehicles planned to come off the line. You’ll consult closely with management to ensure the vehicle is as it was conceived.

  • IT Management:
    You may work for a data company, such as Cognizant or Datalink, where you’ll be an IT/Project manager. In this role, you help to design new IT systems and oversee whole teams of workers.

  • Operations Management/Supply Chain:
    In this position you may work for the biggest names in the industry, such as Amazon, Target or Raytheon, where you’ll procure services and goods, improve the company’s usage of resources, and manage relationships with vendors and suppliers.

  • Operations Research:
    Here, you’ll help determine how best to allocate your employer’s assets and resources (human, hard, capital, time, and others).

Salary Expectations


If you don’t plan to advance to a master’s degree or higher in operations management, here are the differing annual salaries you may expect to earn. Positions stem from either a bachelor of science, bachelor of business administration, or bachelor of business administration - operations management. Over time, you will see your annual salary increase, even though you won’t be earning as much as you would with a master’s degree in hand. On the positive side, you will still gain professional experience and, over time, your income will rise.

  • Bachelor of Science (BS/BSc) Operations Management:
    Average annual salary: $75,000

    You may work as a supply chain analyst, production supervisor, project manager, unspecified or as a supply chain manager.

  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Supply Chain Management:
    Average annual salary: $61,000

    With this degree, you may work as a production planner in manufacturing, operations manager, senior buyer, or as a procurement specialist.

  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Operations Management:
    Average annual salary: $70,000

    In this role, you may work as a production manager in a manufacturing environment (the same as the BBA/Supply Chain Management graduate), supply chain analyst, production supervisor (same as the BS/Operations Management graduate) or as an operations supervisor.

Outlook


All over the country, operations managers are likely to find employment. As of 2019, 2,400,280 were employed in their fields. Their median annual pay was $100,780. Operations managers were most heavily employed in the management of companies and enterprises; but management, scientific, and technical consulting services held the highest percentage of industry employment at 5.10%. Project management specialists and business operations specialists can anticipate the highest employment in the Federal Executive Branch.

Some students who earn a bachelor’s in business end up in tertiary positions. Here’s the outlook for some of them. Advertising, promotions, and marketing managers’ employment overall is expected to increase by 6% between 2019 and 2029. Because marketing is such a large component of business, its growth is predicted to grow by 7% in the same decade. Architectural and engineering managers’ job growth is only expected to grow by 3% between 2019 and 2029, which is about the same as all other US occupations.

No matter what sector you find yourself in, those with a bachelor’s are in a better place to earn more and have access to higher levels of education if they ever decide they need a career change or just a boost to a higher position. Earning a bachelor’s is certainly worth the time and money spent, especially a bachelor’s in business.

Degrees & Career Paths