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
$60K-$120K per year
Source: Hays, 2016.
Production managers usually earn between $60,000 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: Hays, 'Hays Salary Guide', 2016.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)
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 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, preferably in a supervisory role.
Employers may also prefer you to have a diploma or Bachelor's degree in one of the following areas (depending on the industry you work in):
- engineering or manufacturing technology
- food technology
- purchasing and materials management
- quality assurance.
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a production manager. However, maths with statistics and/or calculus, chemistry, processing technologies, business studies and English are useful.
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
- good at leading 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 the NZ Association for Operations & Supply Chain Professionals (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
- Engineering New Zealand
- (04) 473 9444 - email@example.com - www.engineeringnz.org
- NZ Organisation for Quality
- (06) 351 4407 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.nzoq.org.nz
- NZ Association for Operations & Supply Chain Professionals (NZPICS) Incorporated
- (09) 525 1525 - email@example.com - www.nzpics.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Growth in manufacturing creates opportunities
Opportunities for production managers are growing because:
- manufacturing is expanding, with the largest sectors – food products, fabricated metal and machinery – continuing to provide the largest number of opportunities for production managers
- high-tech companies, such as Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, are growing and require skilled production managers.
Opportunities best for production managers with trades skills
Many manufacturing companies – especially bigger high-tech companies – prefer to employ production managers who have experience in a trade, such as mechanical engineering, or who have a degree.
However, people can also become production managers by working their way up from entry-level manufacturing positions. You can increase your chances of achieving this by having:
- a good attitude to work
- good communication and people skills, including being a good team player
- good literacy and numeracy skills
- an ability to do shift work
- some trades skills
- an interest in management.
It is also useful to gain:
- management qualifications
- diverse experience in the manufacturing process, as production management requires an overview of the production process.
Types of employers varied
Most manufacturing companies have a production manager. In small companies, which are often privately owned, the job may be combined with another role such as team administrator.
- Beard, C, executive director, BusinessNZ, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, October 2017.
- ManufacturingNZ, 'Manufacturing the Powerhouse of the NZ Economy', 13 September 2016, (www.manufacturingnz.org.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Managers Occupation Outlook', 2017, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
- Rush, P, human resources manager, Temperzone, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, September 2017.
- The Treasury, 'New Zealand Economic and Financial Overview 2016 – Manufacturing’, accessed October 2017, (www.treasury.govt.nz).
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)
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.
- Quality Manager
- Quality managers are responsible for ensuring products meet relevant quality standards and legislation, for setting up quality assessment systems, and improving product quality.
- Technical Manager
- Technical managers are responsible for the quality and performance of technology in the workplace.
Last updated 21 March 2019