This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Production managers organise and control the production process in a factory. They ensure that products are made to the right specifications and are ready on time and within budget.
Production managers usually earn
$55K-$120K per year
Source: New Zealand Organisation for Quality
Industry sources indicate that production managers usually earn between $55,000 and $120,000 a year, depending on their qualifications, experience, responsibilities, the number of people they manage, and the size of the factory they work in.
Source: New Zealand Organisation for Quality
What you will do
Production managers may do some or all of the following:
- work out what materials, supplies and equipment are needed to meet production goals
- set production goals, timetables and budgets, and ensure these goals are met
- order materials and supplies
- evaluate the production process, and write reports on production results
- help maintain, test and improve equipment, and make decisions on when to repair or replace equipment
- plan and develop new products or production processes
- assist with professional development and training of production staff
- meet and liaise with customers
- oversee safety standards in the factory.
Skills and knowledge
Production managers need to have:
- financial and budgeting skills
- analytical skills, to interpret information and figures
- a good awareness of employment relations laws.
- work regular business hours or do shift work, which may include nights and weekends
- are usually based in an office or on the factory floor
- may work in conditions that are hot and noisy
- may travel locally or nationally to meet new customers or suppliers.
What's the job really like?
Glenn Johnson - Production Manager
Glenn Johnson completed a degree in chemical engineering after school, and now works at a large energy plant as a production manager.
"Some people can end up in my job by working their way up through the ranks, but a degree can help you solve problems and investigate new ways of working, I think."
People skills and knowing "widgets from whatsits" important
Glenn is responsible for the safe, reliable operation of the plant. "I look after the teams of people that operate the machinery 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Because you're working through others, motivating them to achieve goals, you need good people skills in this job.
"It's also essential I can talk the same language as the engineers, and that's why you need a foundation in science and engineering. If you didn't know a widget from a whatsit, you'd have no credibility."
Challenges and excitements of the job
"What challenges me in my job is the opportunity to make a difference, to do something more efficiently or more effectively, like getting more urea out of the plant without harming the environment. And of course, working with big, big gear, and machinery in a huge plant – that's every boy's dream!"
To become a production manager you need to have experience working in a factory, especially in a supervisory role.
Employers may also prefer you to have a qualification, depending on the industry you work in, in one of the following areas:
- engineering or manufacturing technology
- food technology
- purchasing and materials management
- quality assurance.
There are no specific secondary education requirements, however useful subjects include maths with statistics and/or calculus, science and English.
Additional requirements for specialist roles:
To specialise as a technical manager, a diploma or degree in an area relevant to the industry you work in, such as engineering is preferred.
To specialise as a quality manager, it is recommended you complete a Certificate or Diploma in Quality Assurance.
Production managers need to be:
- friendly and patient
- organised, and good at planning
- good at decision-making and problem-solving
- excellent at communicating
- able to lead people
- able to work well under pressure, and deal with conflict.
Useful experience for production managers includes:
- experience in the industry that you want to work in
- management or engineering experience
- work in a factory or office.
Production managers can choose to gain certification through NZPICS Incorporated, which offers modules in all aspects of production management and planning.
Find out more about training
- 0800 526 1800 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.competenz.org.nz
- Institution of Professional Engineers NZ (IPENZ)
- (04) 473 9444 - email@example.com - www.ipenz.org.nz/ipenz
- NZ Industry Training Organisation (NZITO)
- (07) 958 3430 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.nzito.co.nz/home.cfm
- NZ Organisation for Quality
- (06) 351 4407 - email@example.com - www.nzoq.org.nz
- NZPICS Incorporated
- (09) 525 1525 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.nzpics.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Chances of getting a job as a production manager in most areas of manufacturing are poor, but good in oil and gas.
Decline in production manager jobs
According to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates, the number of production managers fell by nearly 10% between 2010 and 2012.
This is because:
- many factories closed down or moved their manufacturing overseas to cut costs during the economic recession
- the majority of manufacturing sub-sectors, such as seafood, metal and transport have not yet achieved pre-global recession sales figures.
Shortage of production managers in oil and gas industry
However, the job of oil and gas production manager appears on Immigration New Zealand's immediate skill shortage list, which means the Government is actively encouraging skilled oil and gas production managers from overseas to work in New Zealand.
The shortage is due to:
- an ageing workforce
- strong competition from employers in other industries for people with science or engineering degrees, and experience
- a worldwide shortage of skilled, experienced production managers in the oil and gas industry.
Types of employers varied
Most manufacturing companies have a production manager. In very small companies, which are often privately owned, the job may be combined with other roles such as team administrator, accountant or owner.
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Immediate Skill Shortage List', accessed August 2014, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Manfacturing NZ, 'New Zealand Manufacturing Sector: Its Dynamics and Competitiveness', February 2014, (www.manufacturingnz.org.nz)
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2002-2012 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
- Stephenson, A, executive director, NZ Organisation for Quality, Careers New Zealand interview December 2013.
Progression and specialisations
Production managers may progress into general management roles or take up a similar position in another industry.
They may also specialise in an area of production such as:
- Production Planner
- Production planners help ensure their factories run smoothly by working out timetables and keeping necessary supplies in stock.
- Technical Manager
- Technical managers are responsible for the quality and performance of technology in the workplace.
- Quality Manager
- Quality managers are respnsible for ensuring products meet relevant quality standards and legislation, for setting up quality assessment systems, and improving product quality.
Last updated 6 June 2017