Manufacturing Supervisors


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you are interested in becoming a manufacturing supervisor, take high school courses in business, math, and science to prepare for the demands of the job. In order to balance the budget and determine production schedules, supervisors often use mathematical computations. They also use computers for much of their record keeping and scheduling, so take any available classes to become familiar with word processing and spreadsheet programs.

Postsecondary Training

Because manufacturing areas differ, there is no single path to a supervisory position. However, most manufacturing supervisors hold a college degree in business administration, management, industrial technology, or industrial engineering. College courses in business, industrial relations, math, and computer applications help to familiarize prospective supervisors with the many responsibilities they will have to handle. Interpersonal skills are also highly valuable so classes in public relations and human resource management are also important.

Many supervisors obtain graduate degrees to become more marketable to employers or for a better chance of advancing within a company. As manufacturing processes have become more complex, advanced degrees in business administration, engineering, or industrial management are more and more common among those in higher-level positions.

Other Education or Training

Continuing education (CE) opportunities are provided by professional associations at the local, state, and national levels. For example, APICS-The Association for Supply Chain Management offers workshops and webinars such as "Principles of Operations Management," "Principles of Sales and Operations Planning," and "Customer-Focused Supply Chain Management." The American Management Association offers seminars and other educational offerings such as "How to Communicate with Diplomacy, Tact, and Credibility," "Fundamentals of Finance and Accounting for Non-Financial Managers," "Successfully Managing People," and "Managing Chaos: Tools to Set Priorities and Make Decisions Under Pressure." The American Society for Quality also provides CE classes, seminars, workshops, and webinars. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Voluntary certification is offered by several professional associations, including the APICS–Association for Supply Chain Management (certified in production and inventory management, certified supply chain professional) and the American Society for Quality (manager of quality/organizational excellence, Six Sigma black belt, etc.). Contact these organizations for more information.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Two to five years of experience as a manufacturing production worker or assistant supervisor is required to enter the field. 

Manufacturing supervisors deal with many people on a highly personal level. They must direct, guide, and discipline others, so you should work on developing strong leadership qualities. You will also need good communication skills and the ability to motivate people and maintain morale. Strong listening, speaking, coordination, critical thinking, and writing skills are essential in this field.