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Top 10 Careers in Supply Chain Management

Each step of the supply chain -- from procuring raw materials to shipping products to end customers – offers a variety of career opportunities. Here's a look at some of those careers.

Supply chains are complex systems that depend on people to work well. That's why supply chain management includes a variety of careers.

Supply chain management is the broad range of activities required to plan, control and execute the flow of a product from its initial sourcing and creation through distribution. Logistics is a subset of supply chain management that relates to how goods are transported and stored throughout their lifecycle.

Supply chain professionals -- whose ranks also include logistics management professionals -- have jobs related to everything from inventory management to sales. These professionals are crucial to any business that makes and sells products. Workers in the logistics and supply chain management field ensure that goods and services get into the hands of customers when and where they want them. Consequently, the logistics industry is an important driver of economic growth and development, particularly critical as omnichannel demands change the supply chain landscape.

Because the scope of supply chain management and operations is very broad, no two organizations necessarily approach it the same way. As such, there is no one defined supply chain career path. This means a career in supply chain management can take individuals in many directions as trends develop and change.

Why Choose a Career in Supply Chain Management

Those interested in supply chain management or logistics careers can choose from many roles even beyond the top 10. Although the rate of growth for these occupations is average overall, many new job opportunities are expected to be added over the next eight years. Because so many types of supply chain and logistics jobs exist at every level, those interested in supply chain management careers have a myriad of opportunities to break into the profession, particularly if they keep their options open.

When it comes to specific careers in supply chain management, individuals can opt to specialize or generalize, work in planning, operations or even a supporting function, such as sales or finance. But no matter the initial path taken, over time they are likely to gain the knowledge necessary to make lateral moves or earn a promotions into different areas of the supply chain.

Supply chain steps
There are career opportunities in every link in the supply chain and in managing that supply chain

Educational Background for Supply Chain Management Careers

The first step to starting a career in supply chain management is to earn a degree related to supply chain management or logistics. Although some may begin their careers with an associate's degree, a bachelor's degree is typically the minimum amount of education an individual needs.

Students should opt for degrees in economics, business administration, statistics, manufacturing or management. In addition, some colleges and universities also offer specialized degrees in supply chain management.

Careers in supply chain management also require skills in project management, cost accounting, e-business or e-procurement systems, purchasing, project management, or ERP systems.

Top supply chain management jobs by salary

Supply Chain Management Careers

These are 10 of the top careers in supply chain management, according to Salary.com.

Chief supply chain management officer
Average salary $243,550

A supply chain's top leadership role requires that an individual possess an understanding of the business and has acquired the leadership experience to become a division head. To achieve this role, a candidate has to demonstrate proficiency in a variety of supply chain management ideas, practices and procedures. This role generally reports to the company's top management.

Here's a look at the main duties of a chief supply chain management officer:

  • Oversee the enterprise's inventory, warehousing, distribution and transportation functions; and
  • Plan and direct all facets of the company's supply chain policies, goals and initiatives.

Educational background. Typically, this position requires a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, management or a related field. Some organizations may require a master's degree in business administration, procurement, social sciences, purchasing, commerce, economics or a related field.

Vice president, supply chain management
Average salary $166,440

A vice president of supply chain management manages all the key aspects of the supply chain processes in the organization. Here are more specifics of the role:

  • Develop supply chain management strategies in areas such as inventory control, systems integration and optimization and demand planning that meet the business's performance objectives as well as customer expectations;
  • Interact with suppliers and vendors;
  • Find innovative ways to solve supply chain problems and report on progress to the company's supply chain management leader; and,
  • Maintain industry and regulatory compliance and minimize organizational environment, health and safety risk.

Educational background. A bachelor's degree in supply chain management, business administration, logistics or a related field is required for this job.

Purchasing manager
Average salary $116,243

A purchasing manager is involved in every facet of an organization's operations from product development to comparing supplier costs to strategic planning to production. Here are some specific duties of the purchasing manager role:

  • Create strategic purchasing processes and procedures and manage purchasing;
  • Manage all the vendor and supplier relationships and negotiate major purchase contracts; and,
  • Evaluate and analyze purchasing and pricing trends to forecast demand and reduce purchasing costs.

Educational background. Organizations usually require a bachelor's degree in business, economics or engineering, although larger enterprises may require a master's degree.

Logistics manager
Average salary $112,209

A logistics manager plans and oversees logistics policies, goals and initiatives. Here are some specific duties of a logistics manager:

  • Develop procedures for logistics management to enhance product workflow and reduce costs;
  • Select and negotiate shipping and supplier costs as well as distribution, transportation and inventory control;
  • Supervise materials movement, distribution and storage along with controlling flow of incoming materials and outgoing finished goods;
  • Ensure customers get their products on time; and,
  • Hire, train and supervise warehouse, inventory control, material handling, customer service, transportation and planning employees.

Educational background. Typically, a logistics manager needs a bachelor's degree in supply chain management, logistics or business administration.

Supply chain manager
Average salary $111,424

A supply chain manager, who generally reports to a senior manager, oversees and manages the company's overall supply chain and logistics operations, with the goal of increasing efficiency and productivity as well as reducing costs. Here are some specific duties of the supply chain manager role:

  • Work with managers from across the company to plan and execute its supply chain strategy;
  • Manage and monitor the qualifications and performance of the company's vendors and suppliers to ensure they meet the organization's requirements; and,
  • Manage the day-to-day activities of subordinate staff members.

Educational background. A supply chain manager typically holds at least a bachelor's degree in supply chain management, sales, logistics or business administration.

Production manager
Average salary $103,581

A production manager is responsible for planning production schedules and ensuring that the production process is accomplished on budget and on time. Duties related to the production manager role may include:

  • Plan and create work schedules;
  • Develop staffing requirements and production cycles to enhance productivity;
  • Analyze production processes and recommend strategies to improve those processes;
  • Ensure that equipment is working correctly and that employees are adhering to health and safety guidelines; and,
  • Provide monthly reports in the areas of quality control, production numbers and safety, for example.

Educational background. Most employers require candidates hold a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering or business administration. However, some employers prefer individuals with a master's degree in industrial management or business administration.

Global commodity manager
Average salary $102,299

Generally a senior position within an organization, a global commodity manager is a key employee in the purchasing department who coordinates the procurement strategy for particular commodities. To succeed in this position, the global commodity manager must have an understanding of the local and global market, supplier sourcing, and risk and performance management. Here are some duties a global commodity manager is likely to undertake:

  • Act as the go-between for the various manufacturers and suppliers and the procurement community;
  • Understand how the company's global and strategic procurement policy fits into its overall strategy; and,
  • Ensure that procurement helps to meet the company's business objectives.

Educational background. Usually, a global commodity manager must possess a bachelor's degree in supply chain management, engineering, business, economics or an equivalent field.

Facilities manager
Average salary $97,885

A facilities manager ensures that buildings, properties and services uphold an organization's operations. Here are some specific duties a facilities manager is likely to have:

  • Supervises building, facilities and property maintenance and creates maintenance policies and procedures to govern them;
  • Manage building systems, including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, safety and waste management; and
  • Ensures facilities meet government regulations as well as environmental, health and security standards.

Educational background. Typically, a bachelor's degree in business, engineering, facility management or information management is required for this position, but sometimes a high school diploma is adequate.

Strategic sourcing manager
Average salary $92,141

A strategic sourcing manager helps ensure that an organization's purchasing spend balances cost-effectiveness with profitability and competitiveness. The person in this role is ultimately responsible to business stakeholders and may have to present recommendations to stakeholders for approval. Here are some of the strategic sourcing manager's specific duties:

  • Conduct research to drive the company's purchasing decisions and analyzes new business opportunities;
  • Negotiate prices with suppliers and vendors; and,
  • Work closely with the purchasing and procurement departments.

Educational background. Most organizations require that a strategic sourcing manager has at a minimum a bachelor's degree in economics, finance, logistics or a related field. Some companies require a master's degree in business for this position.

Procurement manager
Average salary $81,655

A procurement manager is the main contact between a business and its suppliers. Specific duties a procurement manager might perform include:

  • Use analytical skills to identify and evaluate possible suppliers;
  • Negotiate favorable payment terms with potential suppliers;
  • Post-contract formalization, monitor how the supplier performs to ensure it is meeting its contractual obligations;
  • Work with company managers, engineers and executives on capital projects to ensure that they procure essential supplies; and,
  • Monitor changes in the industry, establishing forecasts to create the appropriate strategies to further the operational goals of the business.

Educational background. Because of the technical and analytical nature of the job, a procurement manager often has to hold at least a bachelor's degree in a technical discipline.

Careers as Varied as the Industries

Many careers options exist in the supply chain management and logistics fields and collectively attract many types of people. Companies in virtually every industry need to procure, store and dispatch goods. And managing these business functions efficiently and effectively is critical in today's business environment.

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