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Operations Manager (Non-manufacturing)

by Staff Reporter
If you have a strategic mind and strong communication skills, a career as an Operations Manager could be for you.

Career Overview

An Operations Manager oversees the production of goods in a company and works to increase a business’s production efficiency. 

Duties may vary depending on the organisation, but generally include:

  • Managing quality assurance programs
  • Hiring and training other employees
  • Supervising
  • Monitoring and analysing the effectiveness of business processes
  • Creating strategies to improve productivity

Required School Subjects

You will need to have taken the following subjects at high school:

  • Pure Mathematics

Recommended subjects:

  • Business Studies
  • Information technology
  • Economics
  • Accounting

Institution and APS

The following institutions are highly recommended for tertiary studies:

  • UNISA – no specific APS required
  • University of Cape Town (UCT) – Faculty Point Score (FPS) of 480+
  • University of Witwatersrand (Wits) – APS of 39+
  • University of Johannesburg (UJ) – APS of 26+
  • University of Pretoria (UP) – APS of 30

Required Qualification/s

Operations Managers commonly hold an honours or master’s degree in business administration or a similar subject, and often move on to pursue an MBA. It is possible to start employment in a general role as a graduate through a graduate development programme, and then work your way up to a senior role.  You will be able to obtain a formal qualification through one of the abovementioned institutions.  Here are the programmes that are on offer:

University of Johannesburg

  • BCom Marketing Management
  • BCom Honours (Marketing Management)
  • BCom Economics and Econometrics
  • BCom Honours (Financial Management) | Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) (Financial Management)

University of Pretoria

  • BCom Marketing Management
  • BCom Business Management
  • BComHons (Financial Management Sciences)
  • Postgraduate Diploma in General Management (PGDip GM)
  • Programme for Management Development (PMD)

University of the Witwatersrand

  • BCom Marketing
  • BCom Economics
  • BCom Finance
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Management

University of Cape Town

  • Bachelor of Business Science in Marketing
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Management in Entrepreneurship
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Management Practice


  • Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing Management
  • Bachelor of Commerce in Business Management
  • Bachelor of Commerce in Economics
  • Bachelor of Commerce Honours in Business Management
  • Bachelor of Commerce Honours in Financial Management
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Organisational Development
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Business Administration
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Management

Top 10 MBA programmes in South Africa:

  • University of Cape Town (UCT) – Graduate School of Business
  • University of South Africa (UNISA)
  • University of Pretoria – Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS)
  • Regent Business School
  • University of the Witwatersrand – Wits Business School (WBS)
  • Henley Business School – South Africa
  • Milpark Education: Milpark Business School
  • University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB)
  • Tshwane University of Technology
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal

Required Skills

As an Operations Manager, you will need to show the following skills:

Strong communication skills:

  • Excels in teamwork due to excellent interpersonal skills
  • Listens carefully and excels in oral and written communication skills
  • Negotiates exceptionally
  • Awareness of customer needs – both internally and externally
  • Good motivational skills

Logical thinking skills and mathematical aptitude:

  • Systematic approach to solving problems
  • Resourceful, with a good general knowledge

Process-driven with an analytical mindset:

  • Focuses on quality
  • Able to analyse and improve organisational processes

Managerial skills:

  • Can review budgets and manage costs effectively
  • Ability to oversee facility management, inventory and the distribution of goods

Where you can work

An Operations Manager can work in just about any industry, some examples include: transportation, construction, retail, healthcare, insurance and hospitality.

Working Hours

Full-time work is the norm, but you may be required to work overtime (on weekends / evenings) if there is an urgent project or change.

Expected Salary

Salaries of an Operations Manager will vary depending on the level of education and experience that they have behind them. 

An Operations Manager with:

  • 1-4 years of experience earns an average total compensation of between R243 771 – R299 204 per annum
  • 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of R419 355 per annum
  • Over 10 years of experience earns an average total compensation of R513 039 per annum

What to expect

There are many things that you’ll like about this career, some of them include:

  • Job security through demand for workers
  • The potential to work across different sectors (tech, banking, retail, healthcare)
    • Skills transferability
    • Ability to gain experience across multiple business sectors

It will require you to take on a lot of responsibility, because your work will be vital in your company’s success. So, you need to be able to deal with the stress and pressure that comes with those expectations.

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