Director of Manufacturing Job Description
Directors of manufacturing are in charge of a company’s manufacturing activities, leading strategic execution and coordinating resources to create excellent products. While they oversee manufacturing managers who take care of day-to-day details, it is also their job to make sure that deadlines are met and standards are upheld. Directors of manufacturing work full time, alternating between the office and the production area, usually a factory. Regardless of their specific industry, whether it’s apparel, electronic equipment, or food, this is a challenging, fast-paced role that may require more than 40 hours per week.
Director of Manufacturing Duties and Responsibilities
Directors of manufacturing must effectively carry out a wide range of tasks while also supervising those who report to them. Based on job listings we analyzed, directors of manufacturing have the following core responsibilities:
Directors of manufacturing determine the strategic direction of a company’s manufacturing unit, setting the plan for products, processes, and factory relationships with the goal of increasing efficiency and profitability.
A key part of the role is managing teams that handle engineering, quality control, and production in order to ensure the smooth execution of projects. Because directors of manufacturing are responsible for implementation, they meet regularly with managers and set key indicators for evaluating performance.
Manufacturing is extremely structured and process-based, and directors of manufacturing are in charge of creating or refining systems to minimize error and bolster productivity. They may experiment with methods for improvement and adopt approaches such as Lean 6, Sigma, or JIT (just-in-time).
Contribute to Product Development
Directors of manufacturing collaborate closely with designers and engineers in the product development phase. They are especially active during the creation of the first prototype, since they must assess market fit, feasibility, impact on processes, and quality before devoting resources to large-scale production.
Successful directors of manufacturing serve as coaches and mentors to employees under their supervision, providing training for important topics such as risk mitigation, safety protocols, usage of new equipment, and industry best practices.
Director of Manufacturing Skills and Qualifications
Directors of manufacturing are leaders and problem-solvers who reinforce high standards. They have a deep understanding of systems and processes, combining critical thinking with industry expertise to optimize production. Employers seek experienced candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in business or a related field and the following skills:
- Strategic thinking - directors of manufacturing must be comfortable with making crucial decisions in high-pressure situations, choosing the next course of action through critical thinking and holistic analysis
- Project management – since directors of manufacturing oversee multiple projects that are large in scope, they should be organized, proactive, and good at motivating and managing teams
- Production expertise – successful directors of manufacturing are extremely knowledgeable about production in their industry, from systems and techniques to compliance standards
- Attention to detail – the smallest details can have a significant impact, whether it’s a product design flaw or a lag in the supply chain, and directors of manufacturing should be alert for these, doing whatever they can to drive improvement
- Communication skills – this role requires interacting with people most of the time, so directors of manufacturing must be excellent communicators who can write and speak well, lead meetings, and maintain positive relationships with vendors
Tools of the Trade
Directors of manufacturing often use the following tools day to day:
- Spreadsheet software (such as Microsoft Excel)
- Manufacturing management software (such as NetSuite, Fishbowl Manufacturing, or E2 Shop System)
Director of Manufacturing Education and Training
Directors of manufacturing generally have a bachelor’s degree in business management, engineering, finance, or a related field. However, many employers prefer to hire candidates with an advanced degree, especially an MBA. Another requirement for this position is at least five years of leadership experience in a manufacturing environment. Because this is a high-ranking role, successful candidates often already have industry expertise and can adjust quickly to a steep learning curve upon starting.
Director of Manufacturing Salary and Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for industrial production managers, including directors of manufacturing, is around $100,000 per year. Directors of manufacturing in the 10th percentile earn $61,000 annually, while those in the 9th percentile earn more than $168,000.
Employment for directors of manufacturing is expected to show minimal change through 2026, with job outlook declining by 1 percent. Automation, which mostly affects workers, may decrease the demand for managers and directors as it becomes more advanced. Another factor to consider is that directors of manufacturing operate in different industries, making it difficult to give a uniform job outlook.
We scoured the web and found several resources if you’re interested in pursuing a career as a director of manufacturing:
Manufacturing.net – this digital content resource reports major news and trends in manufacturing, covering various topics from product development to economics. While its primary platform is an online magazine, it also releases regular newsletters and resource guides
The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer – Toyota is a longtime leader and innovator in the manufacturing industry. This book outlines the business philosophy that turned it into the giant that it is today, along with practical, time-tested management principles
Association of Manufacturing Excellence – an organization that takes pride in its culture of learning and mentoring, AME is focused on continuous improvement in the manufacturing industry. It offers peer discussions, events and training, access to publications, and a job opportunity list. Its LinkedIn group has more than 40,000 members, from middle managers to executives
The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement – this novel has been praised by Harvard Business Review, The Economist, and Business Week as a must-read management book. Easily applicable to real life, the story revolves around a manager of an American manufacturing company trying to solve relatable business challenges
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