Online MBA in Operations Management

Undertaking an online MBA program in operations management can qualify you for many jobs in the field. Programs like these typically blend advanced business knowledge with operations know-how: the skills needed to produce goods and services in an increasingly global market.

Online programs require a certain level of organization, self-motivation and commitment on your part. An online degree is quite different from a traditional program that’s completed during in-person instruction. It requires you to learn at your own pace, process class materials and hold yourself accountable to deadlines.

If you’re considering earning an MBA in operations management online, discover important details you need to know about pursuing this degree.

What is an MBA in Operations Management?

An MBA in operations management is a broad degree that allows business students to learn about many areas of the business world, including logistics, supply chain management, human resources, and customer service.

This online degree lets you work in a variety of businesses and doesn’t limit you to employment at one type of workplace or job. Operations managers are generally in charge of the organization, planning, and supervision of all the different elements involved with manufacturing, producing, or providing services. Operations managers focus on delivery and are responsible for turning input into output efficiently. Input types can vary — anything from equipment, materials, and technology to human resources.

Earning an online MBA in operations management provides you with targeted management experience, but it’s quite different from other MBA fields such as accounting and finance, which prepare you for specific careers in the financial or accounting fields. Since operations management is more general, it lets you work in a variety of industries where you make sure operations are running smoothly.

Online MBA in Operations Management Curriculum

An operations management curriculum is going to vary by school and specific program, but there are some common courses you can expect to take no matter what online MBA program in operations management you choose.

Online courses require business students to be highly motivated. Unlike in-person classes where the instructor can hold you directly accountable for absences or missing assignments, it’s up to you to remember deadlines, check in via communication tools, and submit papers and other assignments on time. Learning online requires organization and self-motivation on the part of the business student.
Most of the time, programs feature business courses and a handful of electives that concentrate specifically on operations management. People with a non-business background may have to take additional foundational business courses depending on the school.

Core Business Courses
Some core courses you may be required to take include:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Accounting/Financial Analysis
  • Leading in an Organization
  • Marketing and Strategy
  • Ethics and Corporate Culture
  • Finance, Economics, and Decision-Making
  • Government’s Impact on Business
  • Operations Management and Technology
  • Capstone Course

Operations Management Concentration Courses
Courses in an operations and supply chain management concentration typically introduce business concepts and techniques used in operations management and supply chain planning processes.

Although it tends to vary by program, students are typically provided the opportunity to examine quantitative techniques and unique tools that operation managers use to support problem-solving and decision-making in an organization or industry.

Business students enrolled in online MBA courses in operations management also have the opportunity to explore the different functions, strategies, and practices relevant to operations management that assist with the design and implementation of various supply chain and operations systems.

Course titles may include:

  • Quantitative Analysis for Decision-Making in Operations Management
  • Operations Management
  • Supply Chain Management

These courses can teach you how to design and implement a supply chain and give an overview of best practices for overseeing an organization’s operation, providing you with real-world skills you can take with you to an operations management position.

What Unique Career Paths Can I Pursue with an Online MBA Specializing in Operations Management?

Because the world is becoming increasingly global, many career options don’t line up precisely with a specific job title or online MBA degree.
An online MBA with a concentration in operations management lets you help businesses solve problems related to their logistical processes and their overall supply chain and product production. Within product production, you can help assure quality, build valuable relationships with vendors, and manage the flow of materials successfully, which can include ordering and warehousing.

As an operations manager, your job is to ensure that day-to-day operations are working as efficiently as possible so the company can meet its financial goals and other important objectives.
Below are some of the most common career paths for an online MBA in operations management degree.

Business Operations Manager

A career as a business operations manager is the most obvious career track for someone with an online MBA in operations management. This type of job involves overseeing company activities such as planning, budgeting, and scheduling to support the production of high-quality products or services within two constraints: cost and time.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, popular industries for operations managers include:

  • General Companies and Enterprises
  • Restaurants and Other Eateries
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
  • Local Government
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services

Interestingly, the highest-paying industries for operations managers are quite different. This is according to data from May 2016:

  • Securities and Commodity Exchanges
  • Insurance and Employee Benefit Funds
  • Monetary Authorities — Central Bank
  • Other Financial Investment Businesses
  • Oil and Gas Extraction

In the United States, most operations managers are employed in:

  • Washington, DC
  • Utah
  • Mississippi
  • Georgia
  • Massachusetts

According to data from the BLS in 20181, business operations managers make an average of $123,880 annually.

Purchasing Management

Purchasing management is closely related to operations management, but it usually focuses more on the purchase of raw materials and other supplies that a company needs to manufacture its products.

In this type of job, you can expect to negotiate and compare offers from multiple vendors in order to make sure the company you work for is obtaining the best quality material at the best possible price. Purchasing managers are also generally responsible for making sure that goods and services are delivered on time, an important part of any business’s success.
According to the BLS, popular industries for purchasing managers include:

  • Management of Companies and Enterprises
  • 2

  • Federal Executive Branch
  • Merchant Wholesalers
  • Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing
  • Local Government

States where purchasing managers can expect to find the most employment opportunities include New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, Minnesota, and Washington, DC. Purchasing managers who work in New Jersey, New York, Colorado, California, and DC earn some of the highest salaries in the occupation. Annual mean wages for location are listed below. These figures are from May 2018.

  • New Jersey: $164,910
  • New York: $147,470
  • Colorado: $144,090
  • California: $141,400
  • DC: $141,150

Materials Management

Materials managers are generally responsible for the production and storage of finished goods, and they’re also usually involved in the logistics behind the transportation of those goods between departments, distribution centers, warehouses, and customers.
Materials managers also ensure that proper goods are being produced and purchased. Common jobs under this career umbrella include traffic managers, warehouse managers, materials managers, and logistics managers.

The BLS refers to materials managers as logisticians, and the job outlook between 2016-2026 is considered to be positive, about 7%, which is an average rate of growth.3
Popular industries for logisticians and materials managers include:

  • Federal Executive Branch
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
  • Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services

States with the highest employment level in this occupation as of May 2018 include:

  • California
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Virginia

The 2018 median pay for logisticians is $74,600 per year.4

Operations Research

If you’re interested in focusing on operations management from a more theoretical perspective, a career as an operations research analyst may be an attractive option. These types of business analysts determine the best allocation of a company’s assets and resources. These resources may include hard assets, such as money, but may also include less quantifiable things such as human resources, time, and other factors specific to the industry.

The 2018 median pay for operations research analysts is $83,390 per year according to the BLS.5 Popular industries for this field include:

  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services
  • Insurance Carriers
  • Credit Intermediation and Related Activities
  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services

The states that employ the most operations research analysts according to data from May 2018 include California, Texas, Virginia, New York, and Illinois6

Management Analysts

Management analysts are responsible for conducting studies and evaluations that examine a business’s processes and design systems, among other things. They might develop and supply optimal logistics networks and time or cost for program evaluation, review, or implementation.
They also propose ways to improve an organization’s efficiency to help make it more profitable through increased revenues and reduced costs.
Popular industries for management analysts include:

  • Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting Services
  • Federal Executive Branch
  • State Government
  • Computer Systems Design and Related Services

The states that employ the most management analysts include California, Virginia, New York, Florida, and Illinois. The highest salaries for these jobs, according to data from May 2018, are paid in many of these same states, save for Florida. In addition to them, management analysts also make the most money in7:

  • Massachusetts
  • Washington, DC
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire
  • Connecticut
  • North Carolina
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

The projected job outlook for management analysts is quite favorable at 14%, considered faster than average, between 2016-2026.8

Human Resource Managers

A popular career for those with an online MBA in operations management is as a human resources manager. While this career does not typically involve overseeing the production of goods, it does involve supervising the administrative functions of an organization and hiring new staff.

Human resources managers typically serve as a link between the management of a company and its employees. The job outlook for human resources managers is about 9% until 2026, which is about average.9

The average salary for human resources managers as of May 2018 is $113,300 per year. California, New York, Illinois, Texas, and Florida employ the most HR managers.10

Should I Get an Online MBA in Operations Management?

The answer to this question is ultimately going to be deeply personal. If you feel you have enough self-motivation and drive to earn your MBA degree in operations management online, then it’s definitely something you should think about, especially if you’re interested in a long-term career in this industry. To help you decide, ask yourself these questions:

1. Do you like managing people or just crunching numbers?

When some people enter the field of operations management, they think they might be just dealing with products and machines, but the truth is, operations management is also about working directly with people, whether they’re suppliers, vendors, or other colleagues.
Students who enroll in online MBA in operations management programs take courses in areas such as organizational behavior and learn how to be effective leaders of teams.
If you’d prefer to crunch numbers instead, consider an MBA in accounting, finance, or a similar field.

2. Do AI and machine learning interest you?

According to US News and World Report, a good MBA preparation program includes lessons in artificial intelligence and machine learning. Manufacturers collect endless data when they create products, and machine learning and similar technologies assist in those processes.

3. Do you think intellectual property issues are important?

Good operations managers understand the importance of protecting trade secrets and original business ideas from competitors. While you’re browsing MBA programs in operations management, be sure to look for this type of course.

4. Are you interested in career flexibility and earning a higher salary?

Many MBA students think they need to specialize in accounting or finance because that’s where the highest salaries are, but that’s simply not true — jobs in productions or operations management are potentially just as lucrative.
Plus, operations management is a bit broader than traditional finance fields so you can work in a variety of industries.

5. Do you want to have a positive influence on society?

While many jobs allow people to have positive influences on people, a career in operations management is unique because operations managers are often responsible for making sure the company has ethical and sustainable business practices.

If you’d rather stick to analyzing numbers, which certainly has its own merits, then a career in operations management may not be the right choice.

FAQ

What does it mean to complete an accredited MBA program in operations management online?

An accredited degree program means that your online MBA program has been recognized by an institutional body that assesses the quality of online degree programs. In order to reach an accredited status, the program must meet minimum standards of quality for academics, faculty, and graduation outcomes.

It’s important to seek an accredited degree because it helps ensure you can get a job in the industry after graduation as many industries only hire people who have completed accredited programs.

Business students should look for programs recognized by one of the oldest and most well-respected organizations in the field, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The Council for Business Schools and Programs is another good choice.
You can search for accredited programs by subject or school using the Council for Higher Education Accreditation’s directory.

How long does it take to get an MBA in operations management degree?

The time it takes to complete your MBA in operations management program varies by school and program type, but most programs are around 36-48 credits, depending on whether you’ve met certain prerequisites. Most full-time students completed their MBA in operations management in about 18 months to two years, but it may take longer if you attend classes on a part-time basis.

Should I get my MBA in operations management degree online?

The only person who can answer that question is you, but if you’re interested in advancing your career and growing within the operations management field, it’s probably a good decision.

The online format also offers its own conveniences. Most online MBA in operations management programs let you take classes at your own pace when you have time. This is an ideal option for people with other commitments, such as a full-time job or family.

As mentioned before, online programs often require students to be self-motivated, so if that sounds like you, then choosing to enroll in an online MBA program in operations management may be a good decision.


References
1. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes111021.htm
2. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/naics4_551100.htm
3. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/logisticians.htm
4. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/logisticians.htm
5. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/operations-research-analysts.htm
6. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes152031.htm#st
7. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131111.htm#st
8. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm
9. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm#tab-1
10. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes113121.htm#st