Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, not many people talked about the global supply chain. But, since 2020, we've come to realize the importance of connecting the various pieces of the logistics puzzle that get goods from one point to another and eventually into the hands of consumers.
Having an efficient supply chain requires significant resources and good managers. If you're interested in a supply chain management career, is this a lucrative industry? And how do you get started? Here's what you need to know about pursuing a career in supply chain management.
Reasons to Consider a Career in Supply Chain Management
If you've been thinking about pursuing a career in supply chain management, whether fresh out of college or as a career change, there's never been a better time. Here are some of the top reasons you should put this field at the top of your list.
1. There are Tons of Jobs
According to Harvard Business Review, The U.S. supply chain alone accounts for 37% of all jobs, employing 44 million people. Whether you are interested in a career in manufacturing, transportation, logistics, finance, management, or something else, you will likely find openings in this industry.
2. The Industry is Growing Fast
Supply chain management opportunities are expanding in a variety of areas, from the sourcing of goods to fulfillment to distribution and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the supply chain industry are growing at roughly twice the rate of those in other industries. And CNN Money reports that people in the supply chain industry can expect over 25% career growth in just a decade.
3. Career Options Are Exciting
Every product lifecycle phase, from manufacturing to warehousing to order fulfillment, falls under the supply chain umbrella. When you're in supply chain management, this opens up many different career opportunities depending on your skills and interests. Some of the supply chain management jobs you can pursue include:
- Distribution Manager
- Purchasing Manager
- Logistics Manager
- Business Analyst
- Project Manager
- Procurement Manager
- Warehouse Operations
- Senior Consultant
- Director of Operations
4. Jobs Pay Well
Jobs in the supply chain industry pay well. The median supply chain manager salary in the U.S. in 2023, according to Indeed.com, was $91,150. The highest-paying cities for this job include Boston, Seattle, San Diego, and Charlotte. According to one Princeton study, these are close to the ideal salaries for "happiness."
5. Strong Job Satisfaction
Beyond an excellent salary, there's a good chance you'll be highly satisfied with your career in supply chain management. According to a 2020 survey by the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), 88% of supply chain professionals were enthusiastic about their careers. Many people in these positions feel challenged in their roles and find positive opportunities for advancement.
6. The Industry Always Bounces Back
Some people might shy away from supply chain careers because of the turmoil that arose during the start of the pandemic. That time period simply highlighted the need for greater focus on the global supply chain, which is something most businesses are now making a priority. Even with the ongoing challenges, supply chains always find a way to bounce back and innovate. And they accomplish this with the guidance of skilled supply chain managers.
How to Pursue a Career in Supply Chain Management
Choosing a role in supply chain management can result in an enriching career. There is enough variety in available positions that you can easily find a job that aligns with your individual qualifications and strengths. If you want to pursue one of these careers, here are some tips for success:
If you want to step right into a management position, you will likely need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in a related field of study. This includes areas like supply management, business, or finance. But, to succeed in many positions, you will need to pursue graduate-level education. Specifically, you can get an M.B.A. or find a program specializing in global supply chains.
Depending on what area you choose, various licenses and certifications may be either required or helpful in your career. Even if not required, one of these can help set you apart from other job candidates. One example is a certification through the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM).
Of course, there's no substitute for on-the-job experience. Many people who become successful supply chain managers have worked in various roles in the industry. For example, a warehouse manager might have started as a picker or inventory control analyst. Someone who is a logistics manager might have some experience working in the transportation industry. Having these varied and broad field experiences can help you sell your value as a manager to potential employers.
4. Aptitudes & Skills
As a successful supply chain manager, you'll be expected to master a combination of different skills. Some of the aptitudes and skills many employers in this industry look for include:
- Project management
- Supply chain knowledge
- Data science
- Transportation management
- Third-party logistics
- Risk management and disaster management
If you're considering a career in supply chain management, you're making a great choice. These roles are not only in demand but also pay well and are exciting careers. As you research different careers in this industry, use these tips to help you pursue a job that will be rewarding for many years to come.