Supply Chain Salary & Employment Forecast Series – Production Manager

Hunter Campbell’s Supply Chain Salary & Employment Forecast Series profiles roles within the Supply Chain job family, including jobs in demand, wages, and employment prospects.

In our next instalment, the role of Production Manager is in the spotlight.

What does a Production Manager do?

Production Managers are the heart and soul of a manufacturing environment. Their task is to plan, coordinate and control the manufacturing process to ensure finished goods are produced efficiently and within the assigned budget. Production Managers are constantly trying to find a balance between the rate of output per unit of input. And the speed at which the company processes and manufactures raw materials into finished goods and have them ready for sale. Throughput is the measure of effectiveness of a process, where productivity has a more ‘quantity produced’ focus.

In essence, the Production Manager is responsible for the efficient running of a process, including both labour and machine. Which as a result, will affect a variety of important stakeholders – including engineering, quality, health and safety, sales, marketing and planning and logistics. Meaning this role not only requires technical knowledge with regards to equipment and process, but the ability to lead the human element of the production line(s) to the best it possibly can.

Automation is rapidly gaining momentum and in some cases, this may result in the potential for the human element to be reduced as a component of the job in the future. While the concept of automation is often discussed (see my numerous other posts on this subject), the actual equipment needs to be more affordable for widespread automation to become mainstream in a country the size of New Zealand.

Key skills required 

Production Managers are required to be across the entire manufacturing process in which they are responsible for. As alluded to above, if the environment is highly automated then they will need technical knowledge. If the process is still somewhat manual, they will need both technical and managerial skills from a production background. A large percentage of Production Managers start on the production floor which gives them a greater understanding from the ground up. A quote from a recent conversation with a Production Manager placement of ours reflects this well; “I don’t expect anyone to do anything that I haven’t done before. The fact that I have done every role from the start of the process, brings a lot of credibility when getting buy in from the team.”

The below skills will help you succeed as a Production Manager:

  • Technical knowledge of different production processes (batch, job, flow) and methodologies (e.g. ‘Lean’, ‘Kanban’, ‘Just in Time’).
  • Technical problem-solving skills around process and equipment (a large percentage of Production Managers have some sort of engineering qualification whether tertiary or trade qualified).
  • Highly organised.
  • Project management skills.
  • Effective communication skills to lead and collaborate with a team.
  • Demonstrating proficiency in problem-solving, whether individually or in a team setting.

Qualifications required

Production management is an interesting career with regards to qualifications. A path often taken is gaining practical knowledge from a hands-on production environment where you have had on-the-job training. Alternatively, if a tertiary qualification is preferred, you might have studied in the following areas:

  • Engineering or Manufacturing Technology
  • Food Technology
  • Purchasing and Materials Management
  • Quality Assurance
  • Supply Chain Management or Logistics.

We also see candidates who start with on-the-job training and then acquire a tertiary qualification later in their career as their roles become more complex. Individuals may also consider pursuing a trade qualified course. For example, a recent placement of ours started their career as a mechanic before going into manufacturing where ran one of the largest manufacturing sites in the country for almost a decade.

One of the great aspects of working in a production environment is that if you are willing to learn and upskill, the opportunities in manufacturing and production and endless.

Career prospects 

High performing Production Managers are highly sought after. They are an important cog in the manufacturing wheel, and a good one can make all the difference. You get to work with a range of stakeholders, giving you experience across various functions including engineering, quality, health and safety, sales, marketing, planning and logistics. This means your day is full of variety and offers a career that is extremely fulfilling.

The role can progress into being a Manufacturing Manager or Site Manager responsible for multiple manufacturing and production processes. As the environments become more complex, to progress you will need to transition from hands-on production management to someone who can lead large teams. This may include putting in place succession plans for critical staff, taking on financial responsibility, running a site’s P&L, budgeting, resource allocation; and potentially sit on the senior leadership team.


We are confident the quality of Production Managers in New Zealand is exceptional. Our background as hands on DIY types has proven to be an asset in pursuing a career in this field, especially in the regions within the primary industry sector. We are always coming across top talent which makes the job market very competitive. Due to the global Supply Chain disruption and continuation of manufacturing onshoring, we see a big uptick in production and manufacturing recruitment over the next 3-5 years.

Salary Guide 

Junior: $70,000-100,000.

Intermediate: $100,000-$150,000.

Senior: $150,000-$180,000.

Salaries of Production Managers vary depending on the level of experience and the responsibilities within a role. Junior Production Managers looking after a simple production line could expect a salary between $70,000-100,000. Once gaining experience and proving the ability to run a team of operators, look after the equipment and optimise production, you could then step into a bigger role paying a salary between $100,000 to $150,000. Senior Production Managers looking after single, or multi-site complex production and manufacturing environments could expect $150,000 base salary plus.

These salaries will vary depending on the industry, company size and levels of responsibility.

If you would like to find out more about the role of a Reliability Engineer, please contact Senior Consultant John Boyle. John specialises in Supply Chain, Operations & Procurement with a particular focus across Supply Chain, Procurement & Purchasing, Operations, Engineering & Technical. For more news and views, visit our website by clicking here, see what opportunities we have available here or follow us on LinkedIn.


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