If you have a knack for coordinating the logistics of projects, processes and events, you might be considering a supply chain management (SCM) education. There are numerous jobs you could get with a degree in supply chain management or logistics. Aside from having a high earning potential, these occupations are seeing favorable to average rates of job growth, generally, and they are still expected to add many new job opportunities over the next decade. If you’re interested in pursuing this professional field, a combination of your education and experience can help you advance through this high-paying career field where thousands of new jobs will be opening up in the near future.
Supply Chain Management Career Outlook
Overall, the supply chain job outlook is positive. As of 2020, job growth rates for careers related to supply chain management, logistics and purchasing are on par with average rates or above average. Personnel who work in logistics and supply chain management are critical to the operations – and the success – of many industries, from manufacturing and wholesale trade to professional and technical services and even federal government agencies. The demand for skilled professionals in supply chain management and logistics roles isn’t likely to dissipate anytime soon.
The role of supply chain management personnel, in general, is to plan, coordinate and manage the logistics of the product life cycle. This entails everything from purchasing and distribution to production, storage and shipping and transportation. To excel in a field like supply chain management, you’re going to need strong organizational and planning skills, as well as strengths in solving problems and thinking critically.
Unfortunately, problems commonly arise in supply chain management, including shipping delays, necessary materials being out of stock or discontinued and warehouses getting disorganized. By anticipating potential problems, putting systems in place to reduce the number of problems that occur and stepping up to quickly and effectively sort out the problems that do arise, good logisticians and supply chain managers can prevent a minor problem from turning into a major holdup that severely disrupts operations and causes productivity and profitability to plummet.
Supply chain management and logistics personnel hold many different job titles. Non-managerial roles include logistician, logistics analyst, production planner, supply chain manager and supply management specialist. At the managerial level, roles include supply chain manager, distribution manager, shipping manager, global transportation manager, fleet manager, logistics operations manager and warehouse supervisor.
Working in logistics and supply chain management also entails frequent communication with work contacts both within and outside of your organization, including suppliers, vendors, retailers, customers and company administration. Active listening, reading comprehension and customer and personal service are among the skill sets that are important for logistics personnel to have.
Job Prospects in Supply Chain Management
A degree in supply chain management prepares students to work in various capacities that are involved in coordinating the movements and transfers of supplies ranging from raw materials to manufactured goods. Because an organization’s supply chain can be quite complex, there are a lot of jobs you can do with a supply chain management degree. The common thread across these different roles is that you manage the data, processes and acquisitions involved in the life cycle of a product.
One of the first career paths graduates of a supply chain management degree program may pursue is logistician. This non-managerial role involves analyzing and overseeing the supply chain, earning a median salary of $76,270 in 2020, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The federal government pays logisticians the best, with a median salary of $88,280, and the lowest-paying industry for logisticians is wholesale trade, with a median wage of $66,130.
Another career you could have with a supply chain management degree is transportation, storage, distribution or logistics manager. With a near-six-figure median wage of $96,390, this lucrative role typically requires a minimum of five years of work experience, the BLS reported. The more senior-level role of supply chain manager also fits in this occupational group.
Other jobs you could pursue once you earn your supply chain management degree include operations manager and purchasing agent or manager. While operations managers are responsible for the full range of an organization’s operations, not just the aspects dealing with a supply chain, having that supply chain expertly coordinated is crucial to the company’s overall success. Purchasing agents and managers also play an important part in the supply chain. Their job is to acquire supplies – whether those supplies are the ingredients and materials used in manufacturing or the inventory of products sold in a retail store – that are an important part of the supply chain.
General and operations managers earned a median wage of $103,650 in 2020, according to the BLS. For purchasing agents and buyers, the BLS reported a median salary of $66,690 per year as of 2020. Purchasing managers made significantly more money than agents and buyers, with the BLS reporting a 2020 median annual wage of $125,940.
A graduate degree commands considerable earning power in areas like supply chain management. The BLS reported in 2015 that transportation, storage and distribution managers saw a wage premium of 45 percent when they earned a master’s degree, putting them in a position to earn, on average, $28,000 more per year. For logisticians, the 52 percent wage premium served to increase earning potential by the same amount.
Purchasing managers is one of the jobs with the largest differences between the top earners and the bottom earners, according to the BLS. While the top 10 percent of earners in this occupation in 2015 made $169,000 or more, the lowest earners made less than $60,840.
Is Supply Chain Management in Demand?
Supply chain management is an occupational area that is in high demand in many industries, and for a good reason. The more efficiently a company or organization can manage its supply chain to prevent and mitigate problems, the more effectively that organization can focus on its goals and missions without unnecessary distractions.
Supply Chain Job Growth Expectations
For most of these roles in supply chain management, job opportunities are on the rise.
The BLS has predicted that jobs for logisticians between 2020 and 2030 will increase by 30 percent, a figure that is much higher than the eight percent average job growth rate expected across all occupations in America. If the rapid rate of anticipated job growth matches reality, the logistician career field will add 56,400 new jobs over a decade.
For supply chain managers and other types of transportation, storage and distribution managers, the BLS reported an eight percent rate of expected job growth, putting it on par with the average rate of job growth. Sincere there are already 137,600 transportation, storage and distribution managers working in the United States as of 2020, the number of new jobs in this field that are expected to be added to the economy by 2030 is 11,400.
The BLS expected jobs for general and operations managers, who already include well over 2,400,000 workers in America, to increase by nine percent, or 226,300 jobs from 2020 through 2030.
Unfortunately, the same positive supply chain career outlook doesn’t apply to purchasing roles. In terms of job outlook, purchasing managers will likely fare better than purchasing agents, even though the job growth rate expected for this management career is slightly below the average growth rate, at six percent. The predicted growth would add 4,600 new job roles to the field between 2020 and 2030. The BLS expected jobs for the buyer and purchasing agent occupation to decrease by five percent between 2020 and 2030, resulting in a loss of 23,600 job opportunities.
Despite this disappointing job outlook for purchasing agents, the BLS is expecting that there will still be more job opportunities in these entry-level and lower-level positions, of which there are currently 415,400 in the United States, than in senior-level purchasing manager roles, of which there are only 79,000.
Supply Chain Management Job Outlook
If you’re looking to get into the field of supply chain management, now is a good time. Your best bet is to begin working toward a college degree in a major like logistics, supply chain management or systems engineering. Completing internship opportunities or looking for part-time work in supply chain assistant roles during college will help you begin gaining professional experience, not to mention a network of professional contacts.
The Path to a Supply Chain Management Career
The first step to getting a job in the field of supply chain management is to earn a degree in SCM or in logistics. While not always required, a college education is often helpful in attaining one of these roles. Some logisticians start off their careers with an associate’s degree, but generally, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum amount of education you need if you want to work in supply chain management, the BLS reported.
Historically, 67 percent of supply chain managers – who held job titles like Global Supply Chain Vice President, Supply Chain Director and Material Requirements Planning Manager – had a bachelor’s degree, as did 60 percent of logistics managers, 50 percent of storage and distribution managers and 41 percent of transportation managers, according to O*NET. The next most common education for supply chain managers is a master’s degree, which accounts for 19 percent of the occupation. An additional 10 percent of supply chain managers chose to pursue a post-baccalaureate certificate in supply chain management.
In an undergraduate degree program in supply chain management or logistics, students should expect to take classes like global procurement and sourcing strategies, demand planning and fulfillment, business logistics and transportation, introduction to project management and more. Ideally, students will have an opportunity to develop hands-on skills, including learning the software technologies, like radio-frequency identification (RFID), that are widely used in this profession.
Most supply chain management and logistics degree programs are offered through schools and departments of business. Having some coursework in broader areas of business can be helpful. Some courses you might end up taking include sales management, retail marketing, marketing research, negotiations, new product planning and business to business marketing. However, students who major in supply chain management tend to take more specialized coursework in their major than students in a general bachelor’s of business administration program.
The Association for Supply Chain Management identifies more than a dozen supply chain management areas of knowledge and technical competencies for supply chain managers, including warehousing, risk management, transportation management, supply chain synchronization, customer relationship management, logistics, sustainability and the application of lean and six sigma tools. The association also identifies areas of knowledge and technical competency in operations management, including strategy development and application, lean management, process improvement and execution, planning and scheduling control.
After finishing school, you’re ready for your first full-time job in logistics and supply chain management. Nearly a quarter of all logisticians work for the manufacturing industry, according to the BLS. The next largest employer of logisticians is the federal government, which makes up 18 percent of opportunities in this occupation. Nearly as many logisticians – 17 percent – work for the professional, scientific and technical services industry. Rounding out the top five employment industries for logisticians are management of companies and enterprises, for which 9 percent of logisticians work, and wholesale trade, which encompasses 8 percent of the profession.
Getting a Job in Supply Chain Management
In addition to earning your undergraduate degree or going back to school for your graduate SCM studies, you can enhance your job prospects in this career field in other ways. Professional certification through an organization such as the International Society of Logistics (SOLE) or APICS can improve your job prospects in logistics. So can attaining more work experience, especially in capacities that expose you to the use of logistical software such as supply chain management (SCM) suites, enterprise resource planning (ERP) suites and warehouse management systems (WMSs).
Many supply chain management professionals get their start working in the military, often in logistical support roles, the BLS reported. Often, logisticians who work for the armed forces focus on coordinating the transport of military personnel and supplies.