The field of supply chain management deals with the logistics of supply chains, or the processes of acquiring and transporting materials and goods in business. Earning a degree in this field can lead to a high-paying job such as logistician or supply chain director. While it is possible to complete an associate’s degree in supply chain management in just two years and start working in an entry-level job in this career field, most supply chain management professionals go to school longer and graduate with a bachelor’s degree or even a master’s degree.
Two-Year Degrees in Supply Chain Management
The quickest route into a career in supply chain management and logistics is an associate’s degree. In as little as two years – or less, if you choose a community college that offers an accelerated study option – you could complete your Associate of Science (A.S.) in Supply Chain Management degree. This degree typically includes 60 credits of college coursework.
In an associate’s degree program in supply chain management, you will most likely study subjects such as inventory, scheduling, the purchasing process, shop floor control, service delivery systems, negotiation and supply chain process modeling. Learning to use software such as QuickBooks and Microsoft Excel can be beneficial. Often, general business courses such as accounting, project management and human resources management are part of the curriculum, as are general education courses in subjects such as mathematics and communication.
While an associate’s degree can be a great start for preparing for an entry-level role in supply chain management, you will need to study a little longer to attain a good and well-paying job such as logistician or supply chain manager.
Supply Chain Management Bachelor’s Degrees
In most cases, candidates who want to work in a business and financial role in supply chain management, like logistician, will need a bachelor’s degree, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. While there are some logistician roles available to candidates with only an associate’s degree, most employers expect new talent to have a bachelor’s degree. The main reason for this employer preference is because the additional coursework students complete above the associate’s degree level equips them with the skills to manage complex supply chains.
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Earning a bachelor’s degree usually takes a minimum of four years of full-time study, though students often take longer to graduate, especially if they change majors or pursue minors. A bachelor’s degree program in supply chain and logistics often includes studies in procurement, business logistics, strategic supply chain management, transportation principles, global supply chains and business processes improvement. An internship experience, in which you work in a supply chain management capacity under the guidance of experienced professionals in the field, is invaluable for learning about the career path and gaining real-world experience that will help you get your first job.
About 67 percent of supply chain managers – who hold various titles that range from Global Consumer Sector Vice President to Solution Design and Analysis Manager – have a bachelor’s degree.
Graduate Study Options in Supply Chain Management
One way you can boost your career prospects in supply chain management is to continue your education beyond the bachelor’s degree. Nearly 20 percent of supply chain managers have a master’s degree, which typically requires two years of study at a graduate school. About 10 percent of supply chain managers chose an alternative path to further their education: a post-baccalaureate certificate. Post-baccalaureate certificates are advanced programs of study intended for bachelor’s degree holders that require less coursework than a traditional master’s degree.
Students of either a master’s degree or a post-baccalaureate certificate in supply chain management will take advanced and specialized coursework in the field. If you choose a traditional master’s degree program, you must then decide whether you want a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in supply chain management or a Master of Science (M.S.) in Supply Chain Management. Generally, the MBA is the broader of the two master’s degree programs in the field, while the M.S. is more specialized. Overall, master’s degree programs are more comprehensive and require more college credits than certificate programs.
As a result of requiring fewer college credits – often, 12 to 15 – these supply chain management certificate programs are frequently cheaper than a full master’s degree program.