Business is a massive field, and each career and degree seems more complicated than the next. 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 know you won’t 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 supply chain management actually entail? What can you do with a Supply Chain Management degree? Don’t worry, we have you covered.
Supply chain management might seem simple on the surface, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Join us as we uncover the fundamentals of the field and, more importantly, the types of careers you could land in this industry.
The basics of supply chain management
Quite simply, supply chain management is all about the production, shipment and distribution of products. It covers everything from inventory to sales, and is crucial to any business that makes and sells products.
Professionals in this field 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 actual job duties, and these will vary depending on the position.
- Disposition/investment recovery
- Inventory control
- Manufacturing supervision
- Materials management
- Product/service development
- Strategic sourcing
The list above is a comprehensive one, detailing all aspects of supply chain management. Most professionals in the field are focused on just one or a few of these components. Even so, it’s helpful to have a fundamental understanding of the entire system.
So how can you acquire the practical knowledge and hands-on training needed to launch your career? This is precisely the kind of information incorporated in the curriculum of most Supply Chain Management degree programs. Most positions will involve some degree of on-the-job training as well.
If the list above has you intrigued, keep reading to learn more about the actual job titles you might have in the field.
Top 9 supply chain management careers
As you can see in the list above, there are a lot of factors involved in the supply chain management process. What’s more is that businesses large and small rely on supply chain efforts to keep operations running smoothly. This translates into plenty of job variety, spanning from specialist positions to more general ones.
This is good news for those interested in working in the industry, because you can narrow your job search to the areas that interest you most. We used real-time job analysis software to examine more than 30,000 job postings from the past year that required a supply chain management degree.1 The data helped us identify the nine positions in highest demand.
Check out the info below to get a high-level breakdown of these job titles, listed in order of highest total job openings to lowest.
1. Purchasing agent
Available jobs (4/2016–3/2017): 2,5751
Median annual salary (2015): $62,2202
- 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
Available jobs (4/2016–3/2017): 2,4531
Median annual salary (2015): $97,7302
- Responsible for the overall 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
Available jobs (4/2016–3/2017): 2,2781
Median annual salary (2015): $74,2602
- Analyzes supply chain processes to identify or recommend optimizations and improvements.
- Maintains databases that compile and organize logistics information.
- Provides ongoing analyses in areas such as transportation costs, parts procurement, back orders or delivery processes.
4. Supply chain manager
Available jobs (4/2016–3/2017): 1,7511
Median annual salary (2015): $104,8502
- 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.
Available jobs (4/2016–3/2017): 1,6221
Median annual salary (2015): $74,2602
- 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.
6. Purchasing manager
Available jobs (4/2016–3/2017): 1,5781
Median annual salary (2015): $108,1202
- Plans and directs the activities of buyers, purchasing officers and others 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.
7. Logistics manager
Available jobs (4/2016–3/2017): 1,3191
Median annual salary (2015): $86,6302
- Coordinates an organizations purchasing warehousing, distribution, forecasting, customer service and planning efforts.
- Manages the personnel and systems involved in daily logistics operations.
- Collaborates with other departments to integrate logistics with business systems or processes.
8. Production, planning and expediting clerk
Available jobs (4/2016–3/2017): 1,0051
Median annual salary (2015): $46,1502
- 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.
9. Storage and distribution manager
Available jobs (4/2016–3/2017): 9851
Median annual salary (2015): $86,6302
- 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.
Take the next step
So what can you do with a supply chain management degree? Lucky for you, the answer is not singular. Graduates in this field will have a variety of career opportunities from which to choose.
But no matter what role you play in the overall supply chain system, you can feel satisfaction knowing you’re helping provide products to the people who need them.
If you’re ready to take the next step, check out our Supply Chain and Logistics Management Degree for more information. If you’re still looking for more information on what to expect in these careers, check out our article for some expert insight, “6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Supply Chain Management Career.”
1Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 30,863 supply chain management degree job postings, April 01, 2016–March 31, 2017).
2Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was originally published in May 2015. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2017.