What Can You Do With a Supply Chain Management Degree? 8 Careers to Consider
By Hope Rothenberg on 08/22/2023
Business is a massive field, and some career paths and degrees are better understood than others. You’re not interested in becoming a CEO at some prestigious firm. You just want a degree that will help you find the kind of job satisfaction you’ve been seeking—things you have yet to find in your current job. That’s where a supply chain management degree comes in.
Of course, before you’re convinced of that, you likely have a few questions: What does a supply chain management career entail? What are jobs with supply chain management focuses? What can you do with a supply chain management degree? What is a typical supply chain management salary? We have the answers to those questions and more!
The good news is that there are a range of supply chain managements jobs out there. Join us as we explore the fundamentals of the field and the types of careers you could land in this industry.
What is supply chain management?
Before learning about supply chain management careers, it’s important to understand the field itself. Put simply, supply chain management—also commonly referred to as logistics—is all about the production, shipment and distribution of products. It covers everything from inventory to sales and is an important element of any business that makes and sells products.
Supply chain managers must work closely with others to acquire everything they need. More importantly, they need to ensure it’s all completed on time and within budget. There are several important supply chain job duties that will vary depending on the exact position.
There are several key components of overall supply chains and logistics process, including:
- Investment recovery
- Inventory control
- Manufacturing supervision
- Materials management
- Procurement and purchasing
- Product and service development
- Quality control
- Strategic sourcing
- Transportation and shipping
- Warehousing and storage
Most professionals in the supply chains field are focused on just one or a few of these areas. Even so, it’s helpful to have a fundamental understanding of the entire system and how different supply chain positions work together, particularly as you look to advance in your field.
What to expect from a supply chain management degree
So how can you acquire the practical knowledge and hands-on training needed to launch a supply chain management career? It turns out, your best bet is to obtain a formal education studying supply chain management.
In fact, we used real-time job analysis software to examine more than 50,000 supply chain job postings and 79 percent of positions called for a bachelor’s degree.1 The curriculum you’ll encounter in a Supply Chain and Logistics Management degree program will prepare you to help organizations find efficiencies and direct the flow of goods from supplier to consumer.
Common supply chain courses to expect:
- Business Research and Analysis
- Management of Information Systems
- International Business
- Principles of Supply Chain
- Procurement and Supplier Relations
- Transportation and Distribution Management
- Supply Chain Risk and Compliance
- Inventory Management
The best part about earning a Supply Chain and Logistics Management degree is that it sets a broad foundation of skills and competencies for a variety of careers in this field. The diverse training you’ll undergo can open the door to several supply chain positions. Let’s learn more about your options.
8 supply chain management careers for degree holders
Now that you have a better understanding of the industry itself and the training involved for supply chain professionals, start familiarizing yourself with some supply chain management careers you could pursue.
1. Purchasing agent
- Purchases equipment, parts or services needed for the operation of a manufacturing establishment.
- Prepares purchase orders, solicits bid proposals and reviews requisitions for goods and services.
- Negotiates and administers contracts with suppliers, vendors and other representatives.
2. Operations manager
- Plans, directs or coordinates the operations of a public or private organization.
- Directs and coordinates activities dealing with the production, pricing, sales or distribution of products.
- Reviews performance data to measure productivity and identify areas needing cost reduction or process improvement.
3. Logistics analyst
- Analyzes processes across the entire supply chain to identify or recommend optimizations and improvements.
- Maintains databases that compile and organize logistics information, collaborating with operations research analysts.
- Provides ongoing analyses in areas such as transportation costs, parts procurement, back orders or delivery processes.
4. Purchasing manager
- Plans and directs the activities of buyers, purchasing officers and other supply chain management professionals involved in purchasing materials, products and services.
- Represents companies in negotiating contracts and formulating policies with various suppliers.
- Interviews and hires staff and oversees the training and development of existing employees.
5. Supply chain manager
- Directs and coordinates supply chain processes to limit costs and improve accuracy, customer service and safety.
- Monitors forecasts and quotas to identify changes and determine their effect on supply chain activities.
- Develops procedures to help coordinate supply chain efforts with other departments, such as sales, marketing, finance, production and quality assurance.
- Analyzes and coordinates an organization’s logistical functions.
- Develops and maintains positive relationships with a client’s key personnel involved in logistics activity.
- Reviews logistics performance with customers, weighing against targets, benchmarks and service agreements.
7. Production, planning and expediting clerk
- Organizes and expedites the flow of work and materials between an organization’s departments according to production schedule.
- Distributes production schedules and work orders to various departments.
- Arranges for delivery, assembly or distribution of supplies to accelerate the flow of materials.
8. Transportation, storage and distribution manager
- Oversees a facility’s storage or distribution operations or that of an organization that’s engaged in storing or distributing materials or products.
- Interviews, selects, trains and supervises warehouse personnel.
- Develops and implements warehouse safety and security activities and programs.
Is a supply chain management job in your future?
So, what can you do with a supply chain management degree? There is no single answer! From purchasing managers and purchasing agents to operations managers and beyond, graduates in this field can choose from a range of supply chain management positions that best align with their own skills and interests.
Plus, there's always the option to try out different supply chain management internships and see what you're interested in. No matter what supply chain position you choose, you can feel satisfaction knowing you’re helping to provide products to the people who need them.
If you’re ready to start pursuing your perfect supply chain management career, visit our Supply Chain and Logistics Management degree page for more information.
1 Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 41,896 supply chain management degree job postings by education level, Jul. 01, 2019 – Jun. 30, 2030).
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in May 2015. It has since been updated to reflect information relevant to 2023.