Continuous Improvement Managers
Continuous improvement managers can find employment opportunities in nearly every industry, although a significant number work in the manufacturing and health care sectors. Others are employed by nonprofit organizations, the U.S. military, and government agencies. Consulting firms that provide continuous improvement advice to companies and other organizations are also major employers. Job opportunities are available throughout the country, but are best in large cities.
This is not an entry-level position. You’ll need to obtain at least three years of experience in lower-level continuous improvement positions—often as an analyst—to be eligible to work as a manager.
Popular job-search strategies include attending career fairs and industry conferences to investigate potential employers and network; using the services of an executive recruiting firm; utilizing the employment resources of professional associations such as the American Society for Quality (http://asq.org/career); and contacting companies directly to learn about job openings.
Become active on social media. If you aren’t already a member, join LinkedIn and create a member profile. Follow companies that are on your “dream employer” list to stay up to date on industry developments and job openings. Join special interest groups (such as Continuous Improvement, Six Sigma, & Lean Group; Kaizen Experts; and Continuous Process Improvement in Healthcare) to build your network and raise your profile. Your chances of landing a job will increase if people know you’re in the job market.
Continuous improvement managers advance by receiving pay raises and bonuses, and by moving from smaller companies to larger ones. After many years of experience, some CIMs advance to the executive suite—becoming chief executive officers or chief operating officers. Others launch their own consulting firms or pursue careers as college professors.
Tips for Entry
Become certified by the American Society for Quality in order to show employers that you have met the highest standards established by your industry.
Read Lean & Six Sigma Review, Quality Progress, and Quality Management Journal (all available at http://www.asq.org/pub) to learn more about the field.
Visit the following Web sites for job listings: