Supply Chain Management Career Guide

supply chain management career outlook

The nature of the current marketplace is ever-changing, and the means through which products and services are manufactured and transported must reflect this fast-paced standard. Have you ever wondered how a product is created, produced and delivered at such rapid speeds? Or have you ever found yourself curious about the processes through which a company tracks the life cycle of their products and services? If you have a keen eye for the analytical side of moving goods and services and have a strong background in project management, then a career in supply chain management may be the right move for you.

Supply chain management, or the management of the flow of goods and services, involves many working parts coming together to ensure the entire process of moving and storing raw materials – from origin to consumption – remains as efficient as possible. Streamlining these processes allows companies as a whole to operate at a much higher capacity and speed than what was previously imagined. Supply chain managers must have an adequate understanding of how the company functions on a daily basis, overseeing the output to ensure they’re meeting customer demand. As a manager, you may also be responsible for product flows and forecasting inventory issues that may come to light. You must be able to function in a highly collaborative environment and provide cross-functional solutions for all aspects of the product lifecycle.

While the importance of supply chain management continues to increase among organizations, employers are finding it more challenging to fill these positions with experts who can leverage data and help improve their process performance. The good news for you is that if you’re seeking a career in supply chain management, you have a wide array of diverse fields to choose from. While competition for any career path might be high, if you’re looking to get into the supply chain and logistics field, there are many factors to consider before you apply for that un-filled position.

Is Supply Chain Management a Good Career Path?

Now that we’ve touched on the importance of supply chain management within an organization, let’s talk about why you would want to choose this career path for yourself. No two jobs are alike, but with supply chain, your ability to troubleshoot and oversee the operations of all facets of the production process makes your daily responsibilities quite exciting. One day you may be diving into sales reports to forecast any changes in the supply chain, and the next day you might be developing process improvements for higher and faster production. 

jobs in supply chain management

Jobs in supply chain itself range from manufacturing and healthcare to information technology. Narrowing down the specific discipline you’d like to focus on can often help you become more familiar with that discipline before landing your dream job. Understanding the ins and outs of a specific production process is going to be critical with any employer as they examine your qualifications for the position.

One of the most significant factors that pulls candidates into this discipline is the idea that each day on the job is different from the next, so you’ll never find yourself bored. However, while some people find this sense of unpredictably to be invigorating, others may find it daunting. For better or worse, you should always expect the unpredictable. It would not be out of character for a supply chain manager to jump into any portion of the production process to keep things moving efficiently. With any company, the higher and faster your output, the more success you’ll find for your company as a whole. Ensuring every machine is functioning as it should and jumping in to complete a task might be some of the essential functions of the job. One thing is for sure – you’ll never have a dull moment.

In addition to the ever-changing job duties of your day, you can work in many settings as a supply chain management professional, including:

  • Healthcare
  • Retail
  • Chemical
  • Technology & Electronics
  • Transportation & Logistics
  • Industrial Manufacturing
  • Food & Beverage

With so many diverse career paths to take, you’re bound to find a position that’s not only expanding, but also falls into your realm of personal interests. When you enjoy the discipline you’re in, you won’t spend every day counting down the hours until your shift ends.

Since everything we use in our day-to-day lives – the food we eat, the clothes we wear, etc. – comes from a long interconnected supply chain, ensuring a business is operating efficiently and cost-effectively is crucial. As the functions and complexity of supply chain jobs grow, so will the scope of responsibilities for these positions. Its impact on almost every aspect of our lives proves the discipline is worth exploring.

Factors You Should Consider Before Choosing a Career in Supply Chain

Typically, once you’ve decided to jump into any field, you should consider all the typical job functions and why they might be a good fit for your career aspirations. Supply chain management is very competitive, so taking in all aspects of your potential career path can only help you when making the decision to jump into this discipline. There are many factors of supply chain management career paths you should consider before jumping in – here are four of them.

1. Potential to Advance

supply chain job growth

We’re continuing to see an increase in the number of companies seeking qualified supply chain talent. In fact, the demand for supply chain professionals exceeds supply by a 6:1 ratio, and it will only continue to grow. This may be promising for millennials just starting their supply chain careers, as it gives them ample opportunities to gain exposure to many facets of the business world before deciding which specific path to take. Because so many supply chain positions overlap in their responsibilities, it also gives you the chance to gain more experience through on-the-job training, as well as by taking on more advanced roles as your scope of duties grow. After diving into so many aspects of the businesses operations, you’ll be able to leave a more significant impact on the company and gain perspective throughout every step of the process

2. Variety of Educational Paths

Supply chain management positions come from a wide range of educational backgrounds – it’s not a one-size-fits-all type of field. Because the industries are so diverse and the processes are ever-changing, you may find managers who have their associate’s degree and others with a master’s degree. The qualifications to enter and advance each specific discipline vary for each employer. Some of the main areas of study supply chain managers often pursue include finance, business administration, engineering and even information technology. Discipline knowledge also plays a crucial role in advancing your career.

3. Data-Driven Results

Supply chain careers often require a significant amount of data interpretation. Results and process improvements are often quantifiable figures, so the ability to interpret this data is invaluable. In supply chain management, you can have a positive contribution to your business’s bottom line. By implementing process improvements, you can see tangible results and help your company achieve overall savings, which in turn makes your job extremely rewarding. Your daily oversight impacts every functional aspect of the company and provides you with endless opportunities for growth potential.

4. Networking Opportunities

One final point to consider would be the opportunities you have to network within your specific discipline. A significant portion of supply chain positions requires working with third-party vendors and suppliers. Building strong relationships with these outside suppliers can be critical in the future, should you need the additional support or guidance. It also gives you a chance to speak with experts in the discipline who you can learn a great deal from. Having higher-ups who have already navigated their way through a similar career path as mentors can be extremely beneficial in paving your path to success.

Supply Chain Management Career Opportunities

One of the most frequently asked questions from supply chain candidates has to do with the opportunities for advancement and growth in each discipline. Rest assured, supply chain management does not have any shortage of job opportunities out there for you to explore, and the demand to fill these positions isn’t going away anytime soon. Let’s highlight seven of the most common supply chain job titles, their educational and skill set requirements, as well as their average salaries. 

1. Logistics Manager

is supply chain management a good career path

A logistics manager oversees the movement of goods through a business, from the storage of those materials all the way to shipping and distribution. Some of their responsibilities typically include: 

  • Overseeing materials to ensure customers are receiving products in a timely fashion
  • Hiring and training warehouse and shipping department positions
  • Ensuring all workers are following strict safety guidelines
  • Negotiating shipping and supplier costs

The national average salary range for positions ranging from entry-level to senior can fall anywhere between $65,486 and $118,556. The figure you earn within this wide salary range depends upon education and experience, with the average entry-level supply chain salary being lower than that of more skilled positions.

Also, the specific discipline you work in has a large impact on pay, as a more competitive and international company may come with a higher set of responsibilities and, as a result, a higher pay scale. Because you’re overseeing all aspects of the supply chain process, logistics managers must also be able to perform any of the duties of the warehouse or shipping departments. Should any issues arise, the staff will be looking to their manager to keep operations running smoothly and efficiently. Logistics managers often have a background in distribution, purchasing, operations, accounting, management and economics.

2. Procurement Manager

Procurement managers, also known as purchasing managers, plan and coordinate the work of procurement agents, buyers and purchasing agents. Common responsibilities include: 

  • Ensuring their companies are acquiring goods and materials at favorable market prices
  • Analyzing sales patterns 
  • Preparing and processing purchase orders

As a manager, you are also responsible for overseeing the procurement department, which could entail discussing current processes and vendor issues. The average salary for this position is around $80,523 to $95,070 per year, but the range can vary depending on your skill set and discipline expertise. Many people within this realm possess strong analytical, negotiating and decision-making skills. They may have a background in business or accounting and prior experience as a purchasing agent or buyer.

3. Warehouse Manager

The warehouse manager has a long list of duties within the warehouse, including:

  • Processing orders
  • Administering stock control
  • Ensuring compliance with safety and health regulations
  • Overseeing the utilization of space within the warehouse
  • Managing inventory flow
  • Training and supervising staff within the warehouse

The top qualities warehouse managers possess include logistical reasoning, interpersonal abilities and teamwork skills. The average salary range is usually between $68,378 and $93,438, depending on the discipline you pursue. Although most positions prefer candidates to have some sort of business or logistical background for this position, you do not have to have an advanced degree to become a warehouse manager. Often, starting out within an entry-level warehouse position or taking on an apprenticeship can open up future opportunities to oversee warehouse operations.

4. Operations Manager

This senior-level position involves overseeing the production and flow of goods and services throughout an organization. In addition to ensuring the organization is running as smoothly as possible, they also may be responsible for:

  • Financial management and oversight
  • Process improvement
  • Invoicing and payroll management 
  • Successful management of labor and productivity

The salary range for such a position usually falls between $80,591 and $108,305, depending on the scope of responsibilities within the organization. Candidates for this position must possess strong leadership and organization skills, have a solid foundation for data entry and data processing and identify as a critical thinker and problem solver. The educational requirements for such a role may require an advanced degree. Usually, candidates have a background in science, finance or business administration.

5. Supply Chain Manager

While this position may have a lot of overlap with a few of the others on this supply chain management careers list, they also have unique responsibilities, including: 

  • Overseeing operations to nail down process improvements
  • Looking for new ways to enhance the company’s bottom line
  • Managing the production, storage and distribution of goods
  • Streamlining internal processes involving the movement of inventory
  • Working to improve the company’s overall accuracy 

education level required for supply chain jobs

Salaries for supply chain managers are usually between $94,003 and $122,909. Usually, people in this position possess a degree in supply chain management, finance or business. More than 75 percent of supply chain managers have some sort of higher education, whether that’s a bachelor’s or master’s degree. You can also earn additional certifications within the profession to advance your career.

6. Engineering Manager

The engineering manager is responsible for the research and possible development of products and goods within the supply chain. Their duties include:

  • Spearheading efforts to solve any process issues and improve operational and performance efficiencies
  • Overseeing projects and adhering to strict deadlines
  • Assisting with the manufacturing process and tooling improvements 

People in this position must possess strong project management skills. Engineering manager salaries range between $116,983 and $144,718, depending on the scope of responsibilities. The potential candidate should have excellent leadership, analytical and organizational skills. Typically, people who work in this field have a background in engineering and possess some sort of managerial experience.

7. Transportation Manager

A transportation manager, also known as a freight coordinator or traffic manager, focuses on the safe and effective shipment and delivery of goods. Their responsibilities typically include: 

  • Overseeing operations for companies that provide transportation services for retail or wholesale fulfillment
  • Ensuring efficient product transportation and delivery to support customer experiences
  • Identifying any potential process improvements 

The median annual salary for a transportation manager is between $75,337 and $103,545. While a bachelor’s degree is not necessarily required to step into the transportation discipline, it’s often recommended, along with some form of related on-the-job experience or discipline knowledge. Fields of study as a transportation manager can include supply chain management or business administration. You should also have a strong background in analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as a commitment to process improvement.

With so many opportunities for advancement and growth within this discipline, the supply chain management job outlook is trending in an extremely positive direction.

Contact a Supply Chain Recruiter to Get Started

The supply chain discipline as a whole is growing at a rapid pace and needs high-quality talent to fill empty positions within many organizations. The job search alone can be a daunting experience and often does not encompass the specific jobs that fall within the supply chain scope. If you’re an employer or candidate looking for top talent or top companies to work for, consider seeking the help of a highly specialized supply chain search firm. 

Our team at Optimum Supply Chain Recruiters has more than 100 years of experience in recruiting top for businesses in a range of sectors. We know the needs of the supply chain discipline and want to help companies fill those critical positions to keep their operations running smoothly. At the same time, we’re passionate about assisting candidates to find the right career path for them. Contact Optimum Supply Chain Recruiters today to discuss your supply chain recruiting needs today, or submit a resume for assistance finding a new job that’s perfect for you.

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