What does a Program Supervisor do?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 09 March 2020
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A program supervisor typically directs and often participates in the progression of activities in many different areas of administering a set of classes, courses or activities. The program could be a government sponsored career skills class, a structured living situation for mentally ill patients or many other government, private or commercial programs. A program supervisor has the responsibility of supervising staff to ensure that objectives set by upper management are being met.

Program supervisors typically report to a manager who gives them a clear roster of duties. A program supervisor doesn't usually create or write programs in most cases, but rather oversees the implementation and running of them. Typical program supervision duties involve instructing staff, creating schedules, giving performance reviews and dealing with any complaints by participants.

Some program supervisors recruit and hire staff. Supervisors usually train staff so that specific program details are implemented correctly. For example, in a government sponsored career skills class, mandatory tools such as certain aptitude tests may have to be given to program participants. The career program supervisor may have to train staff how to administer the tests to participants. In this way, program details can be emphasized by the supervisor.


Supervisors of specific programs must constantly oversee the work of their staff and give regular performance reviews. Performance reviews can motivate staff to improve their work to keep the program operating efficiently. Especially in the case of nonprofit programs, funding may be cut if the program isn't being conducted effectively or if there are too many complaints from participants. A program supervisor must always deal with any complaints in a prompt manner. Supervisors should be problem-solvers as well as strong communicators.

A bachelor's degree relevant to the field may be required to be a program supervisor. Managers may hire supervisors with a combination of education and experience in the program's subject. For example, a parks and recreation program supervisor may be required to have a degree in physical education or some courses in the subject plus work experience as a phys ed teacher's assistant. Other requirements such as a lifesaving or first aid certificate may also be needed.

Program supervisors may need to work with supervisors or staff from other departments. They may have to record statistics relating to participants in their program and communicate with payroll regarding the payment of their staff. Supervisors are usually required to attend meetings as well as industry events that relate to the program.


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