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Operations Specialists:
Could This Be the Career for You?

In the past, all the kids dreamed of becoming firefighters, police officers, astronauts, and cops. Nowadays, however, kids are more pragmatic and, some would say, more down-to-earth.

Instead of looking at jobs that look heroic, younger generations are more in touch with the existential nature of one’s employment. Unlike their predecessors, they’re more likely to consider factors such as income and the job market. This is why a position like that of an operation specialist can be seen at the forefront of one’s wish list of future career paths.

Still, what is an operation specialist? How does one become an operation specialist, and what are the perks of this career choice? Let’s see if we can find answers to at least some of these questions.

What Is an Operation Specialist?

Simply put, an operation specialist is a person coordinating a workflow of various departments or teams within the same company. They’re what you would call the brain of the operation. Now, from the description in the first sentence, it’s more than clear that this is a respectable position and that it bears its level of responsibility.

As such, operation specialists are well paid, with an average of $53,767 per year.

Their list of responsibilities is quite long, but the majority of them revolve around organization of work, resource management, customer service, listening skills, and problem-solving abilities.

It’s relatively easy for one to make the mistake of assuming that an operational manager is merely a person in charge of supervising ongoing processes. In reality, they’re there to develop organizational plans and procedures, which means that they’re heavily involved in the formation of a business model.

They’re also there to guide the process every step of the way, going as far as to quality check and evaluate the effectiveness of entities involved in the project.

Most importantly, you need to have developed soft skills, seeing as how you can’t enforce the majority of these policies heavy-handedly. This would be a gross overstepping of your authority, often even exceeding it. In other words, you need to have your persuasion skills high enough to convince people to stick to the rules.

How to Become Operations Specialist?

One of the benefits of the above-mentioned childhood dream jobs lies in the fact that the career path was quite simple. To become a doctor, you had to go to a med school. Firemen had to seek employment at the fire department, while potential astronauts had to go through NASA. Still, how does one become an operations specialist?

To become an operations manager, you need to start with your formal education and earn, at the very least, an undergraduate degree. Ideally, the fields that you would aim for are related to business administration, accounting, finance, human resources, project management, organizational planning, etc.

Next, it’s vital that you gain some early experience in the field, usually by completing an internship. The reason why this is important is that the job of an operations manager heavily depends on the industry. At the same time, a veteran operations manager can (with a brief adjustment period) transition from one industry to another.

You also want to get yourself a professional certification. Now, there’s no such thing as operations manager certification, but you can look for a certificate in fields like supply chain management, finance, or human resources. Just look for credentials that are universally recognized and reputable enough in their respective field.

In the end, gaining some practical experience is the most important of them all. It’s important that you get experience in your respective field (sometimes even on an entry-level job). This will help you develop a better in-depth understanding of all these processes.

Pick Sub-Specialization

The main reason why we avoided talking about specific fields, education patterns, and giving specific tips is that there are many different types of operations managers. Sure, the basics are the same, but it’s incredibly important that you pick a sub-specialization. This way, you ensure higher job stability, higher competitiveness in the job market (even if you slightly reduce the number of available jobs), and potentially increase your profit.

The types of operations manager specializations are:

  • Supply chain management
  • Project management
  • Logistics management
  • Human resource management
  • Operational budget management

After you pick a sub-specialization, the career path progression and further education on the subject matter will become substantially easier, as well. For instance, while an operations specialist may sound like a vague job description, the concept of a vendor operations manager is quite specific. This way, you know exactly where you’re going, what your responsibilities are going to be, and what you need to learn/improve to get better at your job.

Essential Skills

Previously, we’ve hinted at the skills one would need to make it in this industry, but this was barely the tip of the iceberg of all that’s required. If we’re supposed to be a bit more specific, we would say that, to grow as an operations specialist, you would have to work on your:

  • Data entry
  • Time management
  • Scheduling
  • Storage management
  • Inventory management
  • Analytical skills
  • Order processing
  • Customer service

While you may assume these to be situation-specific, as well, it’s worth pointing out that it’s hard to find a position (even sub-specialization) where at least some form of these skills is not required.

What Are the Benefits of Being an Operations Specialist?

Operations specialists have a decent salary and a prospect of further advancement. It’s a job in lower-to-middle management that can, eventually, grow into an upper-management position.

Operations specialists are expert coordinators, which means that they’re always in high demand. With some adjustments, you would have a greater chance for pivot than you would with the majority of other specializations.

Because it’s an administrative position that can either improve or halt the entire work process, the position is well-respected.

In order to become a better operations specialist, you need to take a holistic approach to the field in question. This is why personal development can be just as important as any administrative course that you can take.

Lastly, it’s a growing job market, which is why you can expect to see more such jobs in the future. This ensures greater job security and even more leverage for professionals working in these positions.

In Conclusion

While it may sound like something novel, the truth is that the job of an operations specialist exists (in one form or another) from the very dawn of human society. If we chose to name and classify things in this way, we would probably find examples of operations specialists even in the earliest hunter-gatherer societies. The fact that this job has such consistency and continuity already makes it a career choice worth taking into consideration.

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