Supply chain management might not be a glamorous job, but it’s one of the most important to modern global commerce. Without logistics expertise, the competitive advantages of some of today’s leading brands would evaporate overnight. Logistics is essential to business performance in any sector involving predictable movement of physical goods. It’s also an extremely complex professional specialty, where millions of dollars can be saved through proactive strategy.
Where Do Supply Chain Managers Work?
Supply chain managers typically work in a conventional office setting near a company’s logistics hub. This is typically a large city with a major international airport, seaport, or both. The supply chain manager will spend most of his or her time working from the main office location. This person might lead a team, either directly or through subordinates. Globally distributed virtual teams are becoming more common in the discipline.
Supply chain managers are occasionally required to travel. Depending on a manager’s specific duties, he or she might have to visit outlying logistics centers occasionally. Hands-on intervention can often help to quickly resolve a supply chain problem. Face-to-face negotiation with vendors is often preferable to long-distance conferencing and can facilitate better deals. Logistics leaders must adapt effectively to these situations.
What Qualifications Do Supply Chain Managers Need?
Supply chain management as a specialization has not traditionally required an advanced degree. Many of the most successful logistics managers have general operations experience, which they may have acquired after earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration. That being said, with the advancements in tools and knowledge in the field, individuals with a graduate degree tend to stand out from the crowd in the competitive marketplace. Successful supply chain managers work to continually educate themselves throughout their careers.
The field of supply chain management has a rich supply of professionals with 10 years of experience or more. Many supply chain leaders in the public sector actually developed their core skills in the U.S. Army, Air Force, or Navy, since all branches of the military require a great deal of logistics expertise to service one of the most complex supply chains on earth.
Would-be supply chain managers developing their skills from within the private sector often start as buyers for large enterprises. A buyer must choose among many product options to select the right product for his or her brand — and must understand the supply chain of each vendor to do so. Entry-level supply chain analyst positions are also available in some companies.
To be successful, a supply chain manager must understand the costs of goods, components, raw materials, and transportation in markets throughout the world. He or she must evaluate vendor options and contracts to ensure the lowest spending and highest quality. A high degree of technical and analytical skill is needed to evaluate the supply chain and transmute raw data into action.
How Much Do Supply Chain Managers Earn?
Almost 50% of supply chain managers surveyed throughout the United States had 10 years of experience or more. This means average and median salary figures for the profession may seem a bit high. The average supply chain manager can expect to earn more than $80,000 per year. Those reporting the lowest pay earned about $50,000 annually.
Many supply chain managers enjoy benefits including bonuses, profit sharing, and stock. This can add substantially to the professional’s final take-home pay. Supply chain managers with the highest compensation reported earning more than $120,000 annually. This is comparable to some mid-level executives in other fields. Indeed, the title “supply chain manager” can sometimes entail as much responsibility as a senior director or vice president.
Supply chain managers working for some multinational enterprises might receive housing subsidies or bonuses related to the cost of living in an overseas location. Depending on the local economy, a supply chain management salary might be substantially higher than the area’s average income. Supply chain managers with international experience can often find a variety of job openings in major cities throughout the world.
What’s the Professional Outlook for Supply Chain Management?
Supply chain management is an unavoidable necessity of the global economy. Although some aspects of transportation and logistics are changing, this has had no negative impact on the upper levels of the profession. For example, private companies and the military are experimenting with vehicles that can be used for autonomous shipping convoys, even in rough terrain. While this might impact the outlook for drivers, supply chain managers will still be needed — indeed, it will be essential that they remain familiar with cutting-edge supply chain technology.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics asserts that jobs for “logisticians” will grow more slowly than average, at a rate of about 2% through 2024. However, this may not be representative of the whole picture. As new manufacturing technologies are refined and implemented, small and mid-sized companies will increasingly need to develop global supply chain advantages. This being the case, enterprises that did not need supply chain management before may seek efficient, in-house solutions, spurring a higher than expected growth rate in the field.
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