Plant managers usually need a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering or a related field. It is, however, possible for an employee who has only a high school diploma or a GED, combined with several years of experience at the same plant, to move into a plant manager position.
Depending on the education level, a plant manager can have varying experience levels. For example, someone who has a high school diploma or a GED needs five years or more of experience. Someone who has an undergraduate degree usually needs at least three years of experience as an Engineer or a similar role. A person who has an MBA may be able to earn an entry-level position with less than one year of experience. The size and type of plant and the industry are also factors in the experience that is required.
Required and Desired Skills
A successful plant manager needs to possess a specific set of skills. Here are some of the skills that contribute to being a good plant manager:
- Communication (Writing and Speaking) – A plant manager needs to effectively communicate expectations and general information with their team, as well as provide information to upper management and executives. Their skills must include both verbal and written.
- Financial Management – A plant manager deals with a lot of financial information in managing the plant’s funds to ensure they are used effectively.
- Computer – A plant manager must be adept at MS Office, spreadsheets, email, presentation and slideshows, database management, Quickbooks, and enterprise systems.
- Presentation – Presentation hard skills include visual communication, slideshows, research, data analysis, reporting, graphic design.
- Management – Management hard skills include business knowledge, budgeting, project management, finance, office management skills, logistics, negotiating, and planning.
- Production-Specific Processes – Continual Improvement Process, Quality Control, Lean Manufacturing, ISO, Six Sigma, Quality Control and Assurance
- Staff Management – A plant manager must have an ability to delegate, be open, make decisions, and solve problems in managing the staff in the plant
- Leadership – Strong leadership qualities that include giving clear direction, thinking proactively, and having a high sense of accountability
- Motivation – The ability to lead a team, motivate, and cultivate direct reports to achieve high performance, encouraging individuals to do better
- Adaptability – The ability to be flexible and agile when things change
- Forward Thinking – Planning for the future, thinking two steps ahead, making goals for the future in order to accomplish more with less stress
- Conflict Management – The ability to identify, address, and manage conflict by finding root causes and resolutions
- Decisiveness – Being able to make tough decisions in assessing situations and arriving at best course of action
- Organization – The ability to stay organized with many plates in the air; organizing thoughts, processes, tasks, workflow, and inventory management are critical
A Day in the Life of a Plant Manager
A typical day may first involve walking around the factory, checking the dispatch and production areas, and making sure everything is working. Then, the plant manager may check on the orders that have come in and possibly prioritize them. More than likely, you will meet with shift supervisors to stay informed for important issues that could impact the production for the time period as well as communicate the priorities.
Having production meetings and factory meetings to keep everyone on the same page is a standard daily activity. Getting answers to questions such as: Is the projected production on target? Are all the machines working properly? Has the required stock been ordered? Are deliveries on schedule?
Checking on KPIs (like customer service, deliveries, stock, and orders placed) is also an important part of the plant manager’s daily duties. In order to stay apprised of all the critical aspects of production, the plant manager interacts with many different roles both inside the plant’s operational staff and outside team members in logistics, purchasing, and planning.
Typical Working Conditions
Plant managers work all across the floor in a factory. They usually have an office area where they do paperwork and conduct meetings and/or interviews. But, the majority of the time is spent in the plant observing workers, training new employees, and making sure all the machinery is working properly.
Plant Manager Salary Range and Benefits
The salary ranges for a plant manager in the U.S. can vary widely depending on factors such as education, certifications, additional skills, and the number of years in the profession. The average plant manager salary can be anywhere from $106,000 to $171,268. The lowest percentile of plant managers can make an annual salary of $72,000 while the top earners can make $135,000 and above. Many compensation packages for plant managers can include bonuses for meeting annual goals.
Other common benefits for Plant Managers include:
- Relocation assistance
- 401(k) matching
- Health insurance
- Dental insurance
- Disability insurance
- AD&D insurance
- Vision insurance
This plant manager job description and position overview can be a guide for employers who need to hire for this position. This job description also helps candidates to better understand if they’re a fit for the role and what they can expect from it. If you’re having trouble finding qualified candidates for this position, it could help to consult specialized supply chain warehouse recruiters. Don’t risk sunk costs on a bad hire.