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Operations Director vs. Operations Manager: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Operations directors and operations managers are both responsible for the smooth running of a company. However, there are several key differences between these two job titles. In this article, we discuss the responsibilities of an operations director and an operations manager, the skills needed for each position and the average salary you can expect to earn.

What is an Operations Director?

Operations Directors are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a company or organization. They oversee and coordinate the work of subordinate managers and staff. Operations Directors develop and implement policies and procedures to ensure efficient and effective operations. They also develop and monitor budgets and prepare reports on the performance of the operations department. Operations Directors may also be responsible for planning and directing the company’s long-term operational strategy.

What is an Operations Manager?

Operations Managers are responsible for the day-to-day management of a company’s operations. They plan, direct and coordinate all of the company’s activities, ensuring that they are carried out efficiently and effectively. Operations Managers work closely with other managers and staff across the company to ensure that all operations are running smoothly and efficiently. They develop and implement policies and procedures to optimize the company’s operations. Additionally, Operations Managers monitor and analyze performance metrics to identify areas of improvement. They also develop and oversee budgets for their department or company.

Operations Director vs. Operations Manager

Here are the main differences between an operations director and an operations manager.

Job Duties

Operations directors typically have more responsibility than operations managers. They oversee the entire operation of a company, which can include multiple departments and employees. Operations directors make sure each department functions efficiently and meets the goals set by the company. They also help develop those goals with the other members of the management team.

Operations managers are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day activities of their particular department. They may work closely with production or shipping teams to ensure deadlines are met and products are produced correctly. Operations managers may also be in charge of hiring and training new employees. They may report information from lower-level employees to upper management.

Job Requirements

Operations directors and operations managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration or another related field. Some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well, but it is not required for entry-level positions. Additionally, many operations professionals pursue certifications through the Project Management Institute (PMI) or the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS). These organizations offer training programs that teach professionals how to use project management software and other tools they might need on the job.

Work Environment

Operations directors typically work in an office environment, but they may also travel to different locations to meet with employees and clients. They often oversee multiple operations managers at a company or organization. Operations directors usually spend most of their time working on administrative tasks like creating budgets and managing employee performance.

Operations managers can work in many environments, including manufacturing facilities, warehouses, distribution centers and retail stores. They may spend much of their day performing physical labor, such as lifting heavy boxes or climbing ladders. Operations managers may also need to wear protective clothing for safety reasons.


Operations directors and operations managers share several skills, such as problem-solving, critical thinking, multitasking and leadership. However, there are some key differences in the skills each position requires. Operations directors typically need to have excellent communication skills to interact with other departments, shareholders and clients. They also need to be able to think strategically to develop long-term plans for their department or company.

Operations managers usually need to have strong project management skills to oversee initiatives and ensure they are completed on time and within budget. They may also benefit from having Six Sigma or Lean certification, which can show they have a solid understanding of process improvement techniques. Additionally, operations managers often work closely with teams of employees, so they need to have interpersonal skills to build positive relationships and motivate staff.


Operations directors can earn an average salary of $111,345 per year, while operations managers can earn an average salary of $75,844 per year. Both of these average salaries may vary depending on the size of the company at which you work, location of your job and the level of experience you have prior to pursuing either position.


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