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Supply Chain Manager

Education and Training: Varies. Some companies have supply chain managers with extensive work experience but no formal degree while others require a bachelor’s degree or more
Average Salary: $95,786
Job Outlook: Good

Supply chain managers work in a variety of fields to make sure businesses and retailers have all the materials, supplies, and goods they need to do business. A supply chain manager oversees all tasks involved in finding, buying and delivering the items a business needs to build products or stock shelves. In essence, a supply chain manager is a business’ chief shopper.

Supply chain managers seek out supplies at low costs in order to make their businesses more cost effective or able to sell goods at the lowest prices, thus making them more competitive. Supply chain managers must be adept at spotting deals, dealing with unexpected developments that may disrupt a supply chain, negotiating with suppliers, and coordinating logistics such as trucking and shipping to ensure their business gets the materials it needs when it needs them.

Education and Training Requirements

There are a variety of college programs available to train prospective supply chain managers. Many of these courses are folded into a traditional business degree program, but an increasing number of institutions are offering MBAs with an emphasis in supply chain management.

Relevant course work for potential supply chain managers includes courses in transportation, logistics, inventory, green issues, global supply chain issues, etc.

Getting the Job

Supply chain managers are typically promoted from within companies, as it is felt that employees with years of experience in an industry are better attuned to the needs of a particular business than outsiders. However, as the field has become more reliant on databases and spreadsheets, the door is opening for more outsiders to be hired as supply chain managers. Having formal training in supply chain management, such as a MBA with an emphasis in supply chain management is considered a plus for these job-seekers.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

As the Baby Boomers retire, openings in supply chain management are expected to materialize. The increasing computerization of supply chain management makes strong computer skills a must, and prospective supply chain managers should have a solid grasp on programs used to analyze inventory and manage supply chain needs.

Planning and organization are the key skills necessary to be a successful supply chain manager. A supply chain manager must be able to anticipate supply needs and work out a method to fill these needs while maintaining the flexibility to adapt to changing demands.

Working Conditions and Environment

Supply chain managers typically work in an office environment, but often make trips to suppliers, warehouses, distribution centers, etc. As such, supply chain managers should take proper safety precautions when visiting these locations as to avoid injuries related to those environments.

Working as a supply chain manager can be intense, as they spend many hours pouring over spreadsheets to assess inventory levels and material needs. Interpersonal skills are a must, as supply chain managers must frequently negotiate with suppliers and transportation workers to ensure a steady flow of goods to locations. Supply chain managers typically work a 40-hour work week, but may put in longer hours in the event of a disruption in the supply chain.

Salary and Benefits

Supply chain managers are typically highly paid, given the level of responsibility they have for ensuring the steady flow of needed supplies. Salaries typically range from $69,502 to $124,968. Companies will typically also provide their supply chain managers with company cars, cell phones, and computer equipment to allow them to travel quickly and work remotely.

Where to Go for More Information

Council of Supply Chain Managers
333 East Butterfield Rd., Ste. 140
Lombard, Illinois 60148
(630) 574-0985

Institute for Supply Management
P.O. Box 22160
Tempe, AZ 85285-2160
(480) 752-6276

Supply Chain Council
12320 Barker Cypress Rd., Ste. 600
PMB 321
(202) 962-0440

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesManufacturing & Production