How do I Become a Production Planner?

Kimberly Miller

A production planner is a manufacturing professional who plans production processes for an organization. These professionals are involved with the entire manufacturing process to ensure quality and profitability for an organization by scheduling production staff, testing and approving production materials, addressing discrepancies, and improving processes for cost-effective production. To become a production planner, you typically will need some form of higher education, on-the-job experience, certification, and familiarity with job-specific computer programs. Most employers will be open to hiring someone for a production planner position with little or no experience if a candidate has the appropriate education and understands production systems and processes.

Production planners need to learn how to schedule production staff.
Production planners need to learn how to schedule production staff.

Generally, you can choose from several post-secondary educational programs such as industrial distribution, supply chain management, or logistics to help you prepare for becoming a production planner. Although these occupations do not have specific educational requirements, employment opportunities will be greater for those who obtain a bachelor's degree in manufacturing- or logistics-related disciplines. In some cases, it might even be beneficial for you to pursue a post-graduate degree to help round out your resume.

Production planners need some form of higher education, on-the-job experience and certification.
Production planners need some form of higher education, on-the-job experience and certification.

Finding part-time or full-time work in a manufacturing or production environment while obtaining your degree can provide you with real-world experience. Many occupations such as assemblers, production workers, sorters, packers, or shippers require little or no previous experience, and employers are more likely to hire you if you are pursuing your education in manufacturing. Finding a position within a manufacturing environment will give you hands-on experience and allow you to understand the production process. You may also apply for internal job openings to become a production planner with your current employer.

Typically, you should become familiar with one or several materials requirement planning (MRP) systems. Almost all manufacturing organizations use these software systems to organize production and inventory. This system is a critical tool for production planning and the overall manufacturing process, and can improve your abilities as you train to become a production planner. Most education programs related to manufacturing and production will offer coursework related to these systems, as well.

The Association for Operations Management (APICS) is a respected organization that offers several certifications in production and inventory management. Obtaining certification typically will improve your chances to become a production planner, and allow you to gain valuable insight on best practices for production. You will also learn about other careers in manufacturing, such as production scheduler, production controller, expediter, and production manager.

Throughout your education and training, browse Internet job boards and review production planner jobs. This can provide you with an overview of the responsibilities for these occupations and help you understand current trends in the industry. You might find internships or current job opportunities suitable for you in this industry while you are pursuing your education and training. Understanding the duties and responsibilities related to these careers could impress a prospective employer, as well.

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