When you look at the lucrative salaries associated with jobs in supply chain management, it’s not hard to understand why this discipline is one of the top degrees for the highest-paying business careers. The median salaries for these jobs are often double the median wage for all occupations, with many of them near or in the six-figure range – and often attainable with no more formal education than a bachelor’s degree. If you choose to major in supply chain management, some of the job titles you might hold later include supply chain manager, transportation manager, storage and distribution manager, operations manager and purchasing manager.
Supply Chain Manager
In a role like supply chain manager, supply chain director or supply chain vice president, you would be responsible for coordinating the activities that contribute to the progression of the supply chain, O*NET reported. Depending on your specific role at your organization, you may be responsible for the purchasing of supplies, the production of manufactured goods, the warehousing of the full inventory of materials or finished products, the distribution of manufactured products or some combination of these activities.
Overseeing the logistics of these aspects of the supply chain is challenging, but what’s even more challenging – and what is expected of this high-level position – is to manage these activities in a way that adds value to the organization. Supply chain managers are always on the lookout for ways to streamline these processes, increase productivity and accuracy, make the work environment safer and enhance customer service and satisfaction. Among the tasks most crucial for success as a supply chain manager are identifying an organization’s equipment and staffing needs, coordinating the planning and purchasing of materials and finding the most cost-efficient combination of transportation routes a company can use. Data is important in analyzing the success of different strategies in supply chain management, so another core task is to identify the metrics and measurements you will use to determine the effectiveness of these procedures.
For supply chain managers, the median wage is $107,480, O*NET reported. Despite the high earning potential, 67 percent of supply chain managers report only a bachelor’s degree as their highest level of education. You will, however, need plenty of experience working elsewhere in supply chain logistics before you can rise to this high-level role.
Other job titles that fit into this category might include the more specific titles of solution design and analysis manager, material requirements planning manager and global customer sector vice president.
Logistics, Transportation or Storage and Distribution Manager
Under the senior-level supply chain director are jobs like logistics manager, transportation manager and storage and distribution manager. These job roles often emphasize a more specialized set of job duties crucial to the routine operations of supply chain work and may involve first-line supervision of the team of logistics personnel, as opposed to the big-picture emphasis on improving processes and procedures that are the responsibility of the supply chain manager.
Logistics manager is the most general of these job roles. Other titles you might find in this occupation include logistics operations manager, integrated logistics program director, logistics analytics manager and logistics team leader, according to O*NET. Logistics managers’ primary job duties include coordinating with all departments involved in the supply chain, supervising logistics staff, developing procedures, overseeing distribution center activities and addressing a wide range of problems that can arise throughout the supply chain process. A bachelor’s degree is the highest reported level of education for 60 percent of this occupation.
Transportation manager encompasses job titles such as fleet manager, traffic managers, freight coordinator and trainmaster, O*NET reported. In this role, you would focus more narrowly on the logistics of transporting manufacturing supplies and finished products. Your work may include dispatching vehicles of all kinds, from aircraft to trucks to freight train cars, as well as determining the routes their operators should take, tracking those vehicles and overseeing staff, scheduling, policies and problem-solving as needed. A bachelor’s degree is the most popular level of education for transportation managers, accounting for 41 percent of the career field. However, more of the occupation reported having a high school diploma or an associate’s degree –34 percent and 24 percent, respectively – than a four-year degree.
Similarly, a storage and distribution manager focuses on the planning and coordinating of activities at the storage and distribution point of the supply chain. In this role, you might perform duties that include overseeing workers, carrying out safety and security programs, inspecting facilities and equipment and developing operating procedures specific to shipping, handling and storing materials or manufactured goods, O*NET reported. In some organizations, you may have a more specific job title, such as shipping manager, warehouse operations manager, cold storage supervisor or terminal manager. Although a bachelor’s degree is the most common level of education for this career, only 50 percent of storage and distribution managers have one, and 21 percent of the occupation has only a high school diploma.
For these closely related job titles, O*NET reports a common median annual salary of $94,730.
Operations Manager or Purchasing Manager
Just because you got your start in the logistics of the supply chain doesn’t mean your advancement options are limited to these areas. Some experienced logistics personnel go on to become managers in other – related – aspects of an organization, including operations manager and purchasing manager. As an operations manager, you would use your skills in planning, organizing, coordinating and analysis to run the daily operations of a business. Instead of focusing exclusively on the supply chain side of things, you might handle more administrative tasks, including matters pertaining to human resources, staff scheduling and work assignments and evaluations, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. For operations managers and general managers, the median wage is $100,930.
Purchasing managers are a vital part of the supply chain, so they need many of the same skills you use in logistics and supply chain management. In this role, you would be a senior-level worker responsible for the acquisition of materials and other supplies an organization needs. Purchasing manager is a supervisory role, so you will most likely handle only the most complex acquisitions yourself, while you oversee the work of junior level purchasing agents in securing more routine orders and inventories. Purchasing managers have a high median salary of $118,940, the BLS reported.
Although the degree title may be supply chain management, you shouldn’t expect to start out in a leadership role. You need experience to move from an entry-level role like logistician or logistics analyst to any of these true management jobs.