Exploring the Careers of Project Manager and Operations Manager

May 20th, 2014 by

Manager In many ways, the roles of project manager and operations manager are similar. They are both leadership positions, and they both require excellent communication skills, the ability to multitask and exceptional organization skills. However, there are some differences, and they often require different means of preparation.

If you are interested in becoming either a project manager or an operations manager, discover what kind of degree it will take to get you there, what the daily tasks of each position might entail and what skills will help you to get ahead in these leadership roles.

What Does a Project Manager Do?

The first step in determining whether this kind of career is the right move for you is to learn more about what a project manager does on a day to day basis. Just as the name implies, a project manager is tasked with overseeing, managing and supervising a particular project. In many cases, this refers to a construction project, and it could be a large apartment complex, a shopping mall or a residential subdivision.

Whatever the job, the project manager needs to be aware of every detail, and they will be responsible for ensuring that the right amount of supplies arrive when they are needed, that employees are scheduled in the right shifts to get the work done, that the work is sticking to the determined deadline and schedule and that any decisions that need to be made are handled by the appropriate professionals.

While a project manager does most often work in the construction field, the title can also be applied in other industries. Project managers might be tasked with managing the release of a new political campaign or even a new record from a major international artist.

What Does an Operations Manager Do?

An operations manager, sometimes also called the general manager, is a high-level manager that oversees the day to day operations of any business. In many ways, this job is similar to that of a project manager. However, one vital difference is that an operations manager has an open-ended position. Instead of being responsible for a single project that needs to be completed and run smoothly, their job involves managing a business that will ideally be successful and operational for years to come.

Operations managers are often office-bound employees, and they may work for a bank, a nonprofit organization or a large multinational corporation. Just a few of the responsibilities that an operations manager might handle on a regular basis could include recruiting new employees, acting as a liaison between employees and head executives, creating budgets and addressing financial concerns, negotiating contracts of returning employees and making important, split-second decisions regarding any number of business-related concerns.

This career can be stressful, and there is a lot of responsibility involved, but the lucrative median salary of $95,440 makes it appealing to many.

Explore Project Management Degrees you can earn online.

What Education Does a Project Manager Require?

In order to secure employment as a project manager, there are a number of educational requirements that have to be met. In most large companies, only applicants with a minimum of a bachelor’s degree will be invited for an interview, and those with a master’s degree or even a doctoral degree may be the preferred candidates.

Although it is possible to become a project manager with a more general business degree, the best way to ensure that you are eligible for a solid position is by earning an Online Business Administration/Project Management Degree. Just some of the subjects that you can expect to study when pursuing a degree in project management will typically include cost control, resource management, strategic approaches to project decisions, team leadership and logistics organization. Of course, the specific subjects and class titles will vary depending on where you attend school and what your preferred field of employment will eventually be.

What Education Does an Operations Manager Require?

If you want to become an operations manager, the educational prerequisites are in many ways similar to that of a project manager’s, listed above. Like for most high-level and managerial business positions, operations managers will need to have at least a bachelor’s degree, and many of the most successful individuals in the field will have an MBA or even a doctorate.

While it is possible to major in anything from business administration to finance, the best way to prepare for a career as an operations manager is to earn an online operations management degree.

Whether you earning an undergraduate or a graduate degree in this field, some of the many courses you can expect to find on your syllabus will include project planning, logistics, human behavior, the principles of decision-making and cost analysis. As you can see, these topics are very similar to the courses found in a project management degree, reflecting the similarities between the two careers.

What are the Prerequisites to Earning These Degrees?

In order to pursue either a project management or operations management degree through an accredited online college or a traditional college campus program, you will need to meet certain prerequisites, apply for the degree of your choosing and then be accepted.

In order to earn a bachelor’s degree, which is a four-year undergraduate degree, you’ll need a minimum of a high school diploma, a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, either SAT or ACT results and possibly even references from current or previous employers or educators. To earn a master’s degree, the requirements are harder to meet, but the biggest hurdle will be first earning a bachelor’s degree.

In addition, many colleges ask applicants to turn in transcripts as well as suitable results from the GRE, or Graduate Record Examination.

Learn more about earning an operations management degree through an accredited college or university.

What are the Advantages of Earning Your Degree Online?

Once you have officially decided to earn a degree in either project management or operations management, you might want to give some thought to pursuing your degree online.

The curriculum, coursework and exams tend to be the same as what is offered at a college campus, but you’ll have greater flexibility to get it done according to your own schedule. Watch recorded lectures when you have time, and forget about battling traffic to attend late-night or early-morning classes.

With a computer and access to the Internet, you can stream classes live, connect with peers in online discussion groups and even take exams from the comfort of your own home or office.

What Attributes are Commonly Found Among Successful Managers?

There are a few attributes that are seen regularly among the most successful project and operations managers. Excellent communication is vital, as managers need to communicate their expectations to other employees. It is also important to stay organized, make decisions confidently at a moment’s notice and stay calm in stressful situations.

If you think that a career as an operations manager or a project manager could be the right fit, then the first step on the path to success should be pursuing a degree from an accredited online college.

Explore your options to earn your degree in business and many other fields at

About the Author:

Sandy Davis

Sandy Davis is a long-time educator who holds a Master’s Degree in Education, having taught English, writing, and communication on the secondary and college levels. With ten years of experience in blogging, social media and content management, she is a freelance writer and content marketing specialist for a diverse range of clients.

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