What Is It Like to Be a Supply Chain Manager?

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Supply chain manager in a warehouse taking notes on a clipboard.
It takes the efforts of a range of individuals on the production line to develop, move, store, process, distribute and sell inventory. Supply chain managers are the ones who oversee the whole process, coordinating all of the details of a well-operating process.

Here’s a look at what it’s like to pursue a career as a supply chain manager:

What does a supply chain manager do?

Supply chain managers coordinate the production, purchasing, warehousing, distribution, financial forecasting, customer service and safety elements of a company’s supply chain. To do so, they communicate with suppliers, analyze current processes, implement improvements for future success, develop logistics policies and procedures, and ensure product distribution needs are met. Moreover, they provide guidance to store managers and other important players within the supply chain.

Tasks on a supply chain manager’s to-do list often include:

  • Designing supply chain processes
  • Selecting and coordinating with suppliers
  • Analyzing cost-effectiveness of current procedures
  • Choosing appropriate equipment and staffing levels
  • Determining the most effective transportation routes for distribution
  • Reporting performance metrics
  • Proposing new strategies to minimize costs or increase timeliness

In addition to supply chain manager positions, these responsibilities appear in other roles, such as:

  • Logistician
  • Distribution Manager
  • Logistics Manager
  • Operations Manager
  • Materials Requirements Planning Manager
  • Solutions Design and Analysis Manager
  • Global Consumer Sector Vice President
  • Supply Chain Vice President
  • Director of Operations
  • Supply Chain Director

Whatever their job title, most supply chain professionals are ultimately responsible for designing and implementing the processes that turn materials into products and then distribute them with the utmost quality, safety and efficiency.

Where do supply chain managers work?

Responsible for overseeing the production line, many supply chain managers work for manufacturing companies. However, there are opportunities in virtually any industry, including professional, scientific and technical services, medical devices, transportation, federal and local government, and military organizations.

Many supply chain managers work in logistics or operations departments of large companies, while others may work for third-party companies, firms or transportation companies that specialize in production, purchasing, distribution or other logistical work. According to data compiled by PayScale, Apple, Intel, General Electric, Amazon, Procter & Gamble and the U.S. Air Force are among the leading employers of supply chain managers.

How much do supply chain managers earn?

Earning potential for supply chain managers is largely dependent on industry and company standards. According to PayScale, the average salary for supply chain managers was $81,519 in 2019, with a range of $52,000 to upwards of $116,000. Seniority opens doors to high-paying roles, such as vice president of supply chain management, which offers an average annual compensation of about $167,000, as reported by PayScale.

Logisticians, who specialize in analyzing and coordinating supply chains, earned a median of $74,600 per year in 2018, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Supply chain professionals who pursue managerial roles in transportation, storage or distribution may have better chances of securing a six-figure salary, with the BLS reporting a median annual wage of $94,730. The data further showed that in May 2018, the top-paying industries in this sector were:

  • Natural gas distribution: $143,810
  • Aerospace product and parts manufacturing: $143,810
  • Oil and gas extraction: $138,150
  • Other pipeline transportation: $137,430
  • Scientific research and development services: $134,620

Industry-specific skills, highly relevant experience, glowing references and advanced education can also increase salary potential for aspiring supply chain managers.

What’s the job outlook?

An efficient supply chain process is vital for companies to be profitable. As such, organizations rely on supply chain managers to oversee a successful and effective movement of products and supplies. They’ll continue to seek these experts for this purpose, as well as to implement efficiency and cost improvements.

The BLS predicted an average employment growth rate of 7% for these logistics professionals between 2016 and 2026, as well as a favorable number of job opportunities for fresh candidates to replace retirees or re-energize companies with new ideas and instinctive understandings of industry technologies. However, advanced degrees, certifications, logistics software skills and specialized knowledge can significantly improve the chances of securing supply chain management positions.

What qualifications are required to be a supply chain manager?

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in supply chain management, you’ll need a resume that catches employers’ eyes with the right skills, experience and education. Most supply chain managers have several years of work experience in related fields, such as business or customer service. Experience in logistical support roles can also display an understanding of production, distribution and other supply chain processes.

The most successful supply chain managers have a solid understanding of the region and industry they work in, which allows them to make informed decisions. They also lean on strong interpersonal and communication skills to work with all involved parties.

Most supply chain managers have at least a bachelor’s degree in areas such as business administration, logistics and sales. However, those who have their eyes set on more executive roles in supply chain management may want to pursue an advanced degree to boost their qualifications. With a specialization in supply chain management, the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business Online Master of Business Administration program offers the advanced learning you need to excel in the industry. You’ll learn how to identify, evaluate and mitigate risk, improve efficiencies and utilize industry tools. Plus, online learning allows you to continue accruing those valuable years of professional experience while enhancing your knowledge.

Ready to fuel the production line with effective leadership? Reach out to an advisor to learn more about the Online MBA program at Maryland Smith.

 

Recommended Readings:

What you need to know about an online MBA degree

5 tips to finish your MBA as a working professional

 

Sources:

Online Master of Business Administration by the University of Maryland

Supply Chain Managers by O*NET OnLine

Supply Chain Manager Salary by PayScale

Average Vice President (VP), Supply Chain Management Salary by PayScale

Logisticians by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Transportation, Storage and Distribution Managers Employment and Wages by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics