Supply Chain Management Careers

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - April 19, 2017
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Reading Time: 5 minutes

The following article discusses the important aspects of a career in supply chain management. You will learn what supply chain managers do, where they work, job duties, how to become one, popular career options, and more.

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What We Do

Supply chain managers are critical to all business getting done all around the world. Supply chain management involves the movement and storage of products, raw materials, work in progress inventory, and finished products from their point of origin to where they are consumed.

Supply chain managers also coordinate the logistics of every part of the supply chain, which has five essential parts:

  • Plan or strategy
  • Raw materials or services source
  • Manufacturing
  • Delivery and logistics
  • Return system for defective or unwanted products

Above all, the supply chain manager’s jobs are to eliminate shortages and oversupply, and to reduce costs. Good supply chain managers keep companies productive and efficient, and keep them out of expensive lawsuits and recalls.

With the state of technology today, companies around the world rely on highly advanced process coordination to expedite the way in which goods are distributed. Supply chain managers use computers and technology to analyze work routines so that the supply of available labor has led to large increases in productivity.

Modern supply chain systems development have created many new operations management functions that supply chain managers must oversee for optimum results.

People who are skilled in advanced supply chain management principles can also work in these types of roles:

  • Buyer/Senior Buyer
  • Demand Manager
  • Materials Analyst
  • Procurement Manager
  • Purchasing Agent/Analyst
  • Senior Procurement Specialist
  • Supplier Relationship Manager
  • Vice President, Supply Chain Management

Job Duties

Common job duties of supply chain managers include:

  • Managing all of the logistical aspects of the product life cycle, from design to shipping to disposal
  • Direct how materials, supplies and products will be allocated across the country or globe
  • Develop effective business relationships with clients and suppliers
  • Understand the supply chain management needs of client companies and work to meet them
  • Design new supply chain strategies to minimize cost and time to transport supplies and products
  • Review supply chain functions as needed and pinpoint areas to be improved
  • Propose possible logistical improvements to senior management and customers

Supply chain managers are responsible for the oversight of activities that include transportation, purchasing, inventory and warehousing. They often direct the movement of goods, supplies, finished products, and workers.

Where We Work

Supply chain managers may work in any industry, but the following are the most common ones:

  • Manufacturing: 26%
  • Federal government: 22%
  • Professional, technical and scientific services: 17%
  • Company and enterprise management: 9%
  • Wholesale trade: 7%

Supply chain managers work largely in manufacturing companies and in the federal government. Some managers may work in the supply chain management, purchasing or logistical department of a company. Others work for companies that specialize in supply chain management consulting services.

How to Become

Good supply chain managers need excellent skills in cost accounting, project management, e-procurement systems, and also possess good knowledge of legal contracts.

Supply chain managers also need to be very good communicators and have excellent presentation skills, as well as superior ability to work with many cultures.

See also 14 Great Jobs to Get with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business

At least 75% of supply chain managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in business, and many have a master’s degree. Project management, purchasing, logistics and supply chain management are also excellent backgrounds for this profession.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median annual salary for logisticians and supply chain managers was $74,260 in 2015. The top 10% earned more than $115,000 per year.

Your salary will vary depending upon your experience level and the industry in which you work:

  • Federal government: $81,450
  • Professional, technical and scientific services: $74,780
  • Manufacturing: $74,220
  • Management of companies and enterprises: $72,600
  • Wholesale trade: $65,850

Fortune magazine also reports that the US supply chain management system that already employs more than six million people needs many more workers to keep up with the demand for shipping products to consumers. One logistics trade group named Material Handling Industry reported in 2014 that there were six to eight supply chain management jobs available for every applicant they had. The median salary for each job was $80,000.

MHI also stated in the article that the logistics business wants to fill more than 1.4 million jobs by 2018.

Career Paths

Professionals who want a career in supply chain management will also find that they may have the skills to do these related jobs:

  • Logisticians: These supply chain professionals analyze and coordinate the supply chain for a company and help to move the product or raw material from the supplier to consumer in an efficient manner. The logistician oversees the entire product life cycle, including how the product is acquired, distributed, allocated and finally delivered to the client. Logisticians also oversee all activities in purchasing, transportation, inventory and warehousing. They frequently direct the movement of many types of goods and supplies, from consumer goods to military items to even personnel.
  • Operations research analysts: These analysts use analysis and mathematics to assist organizations in solving logistical and supply chain problems, and to ultimately make better business decisions to increase profits. They assist managers in the allocation of resources, developing more efficient production schedules, manage the supply chain more efficiently, and also to set prices. Analysts need to be experts in the use of advanced operations logistics computer software to be able to analyze and solve supply chain problems. They must collect the most important data from the field, and sometimes conduct interviews of clients or managers that are active in the business processes being studied.
  • Management analysts: These are management consultants who study and propose ways for companies to enhance their efficiency and to reduce their costs. They provide senior level managers with advice about how to make the company more profitable through a more effective supply chain. Some management analysts may focus solely on one area, such as inventory management, or efficiently reorganizing the corporate structure. They may work for a single company, or they also may work for a management consulting company that contracts with many different client companies.

Career Paths by Job Title

The following list of supply chain related careers are possible pathways you may choose:

Education Requirements

Most supply chain managers and related managers have a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Upper level managers frequently earn their MBA in supply chain management, operations or logistics. You should expect to take many courses in operations, database management and systems dynamics.

See 10 Best MBA in Supply Chain Management Degree Programs.


Depending upon your company and industry, your work may focus more on one of two types of supply chain management systems described below:

  • Supply chain planning systems: These give information to companies that need to better plan their supply chain. These systems provide forecasting for products and preparing manufacturing and sourcing plans for these products. They also estimate the quantities of each product that needs to be manufactured in a certain time period. The supply chain planning system further identifies the location where the products need to be stored, and the type of transportation that will be used to deliver the products.
  • Supply chain execution systems: Provide detailed information that assist companies in executing their critical supply chain steps. These systems accurately manage the product flow from manufacturers to distributors, to retailers, and then to customers to ensure that products are delivered in an accurate fashion. They also provide vital information about the status of processed orders, so that vendors can obtain precise delivery dates for customers.

Training and Certifications

Supply chain managers with one or more of the following credentials offered by the American Production and Inventory Control Society or APICS will likely have the best career prospects:

  • CPIM: Certified in Production and Inventory Management. APICS data states that you can on average earn a 12% increase in salary with this designation, and can improve your chances of being hired by 65%.
  • CSCP: Certified Supply Chain Professional. This program helps to increase your knowledge and organizational skills to develop highly streamlined operations. More than 20,000 professionals in 80+ countries have earned this designation.
  • CLTD: Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution. This designation gives you recognized expertise in logistics, transportation and distribution.


Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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