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Manufacturing Manager

What They Do

Insider Info

Manufacturing managers are experts in the process of making things. They oversee the equipment, decide on repairs and upgrades, and train employees on the equipment's use.

These managers gather records and present information to upper management about how the facility is operating. They do this to allow upper management to evaluate the success of the operation.

Managers are always looking for ways to make manufacturing more efficient and cost-effective. They are also responsible for overall safety in the factory or office.

"One of the most challenging aspects [is] to manage budgets during tough times," says Sonja Hughes. She has more than 20 years of experience in manufacturing and production management.

"When you have to make difficult decisions regarding who to keep and who to let go, you realize that you are doing more than just cutting costs. You are affecting people's lives," she says. "Other challenging aspects also involve managing people when their performance or behavior does not meet the necessary expectations."

Manufacturing managers work in many industries. They oversee the production of cars and trucks, aviation equipment, books, medical supplies, electronics, furniture, clothing and food products.

Managers must keep up with technology and ensure that the people they manage stay up to date.

"It's such a different world today than it was 30 years ago when I first entered into manufacturing," says manufacturing consultant Bill Waddell. "So I think that's the biggest single challenge -- constantly trying to stay on top of the curve on changing technologies. And it's not just information, it's the machines themselves, and where those things integrate."

Manufacturing management is very closely related to engineering. Many programs combine the two. Many, if not most, manufacturing managers have a background in engineering.

A workweek of more than 40 hours is common. The potential for emergencies means you must be ready to go at a moment's notice. Factories often run 24/7, with teams of people working three eight-hour shifts per day.

"It doesn't mean that you have to work 18 hours a day. It just may mean that you have to go in at 9:00 once a month and visit the people on that shift," says manufacturing consultant Kim Wolf.

"It might mean that you have to go in at 3 a.m. and visit people on that shift, or pop in on a Saturday, because people are following your example," says Wolf. "I think knowing when they go into it that they have to have some flexibility with their schedule to accommodate those types of environments is important."

At a Glance

Oversee the process of making things

  • You have to look for ways to make manufacturing more efficient and cost-effective
  • You could work for companies that make anything from furniture to books to medical supplies
  • An engineering degree and some business training will serve you well


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