Supply chain management is a very broad term, used to designate a wide range of roles within the supply chain. Depending on the exact role and the specific industry in question, it could vary a lot. However, at its core, supply chain management is about planning, coordinating, monitoring, tracking, implementing, executing, and improving the multiple aspects of receiving, stocking, and delivering products.
Career opportunities for someone holding a certificate in supply chain management are, of course, very straightforward. Someone trained to handle and improve supply chains should do just that, meaning that they should become supply chain managers. In truth, that assumption is not too far from the mark either because the many variations of the career opportunities in the supply chain are advanced or specialized derivatives of that exact role. Let’s dive straight into what those jobs are exactly next so that everything begins to make more sense.
Chief Supply Chain Management Officer
Thorough training and education in Supply Chain Management from a reputed college and backed up by years of leadership experience means a supply chain manager can eventually become the Chief Supply Chain Management Officer. It’s one of the many benefits of getting a supply chain management certification, discussed in more detail in this post. A supply chain professional may assume the role by working through the ranks in one company, or by strategically shifting employers at the right time. Given that this is the highest position that one can hope to attain in this sector, it also pays the most, with even the average salary easily exceeding the $240,000/year mark.
The roles and duties of the Chief Supply Chain Management Officer will mostly involve acting as the overseer for the company’s inventory management, warehouse management, distribution chain management, transportation management, etc. Keep in mind that each of these departments will have localized and sectional heads, but the Chief Officer presides over them all, and every other sectional head in the supply chain reports to him/her. They are also in charge of deciding the organization’s supply chain management policies and objectives.
It is easy to mistakenly believe that anyone who is associated with logistics can be called a logistician, but that’s a wrong assumption. Logisticians are professionals who are intricately associated with planning, coordinating, and improving the day-to-day functions of the logistics department. The head logistician leads his/her team of logisticians and can also hold the same designation as a supply chain manager, although that may not always be the case.
It is perfectly possible for a company to both have a separate logistics manager, as well as a supply chain manager at the same time to further divide responsibilities. However, that is increasingly becoming an unpopular choice, especially for SMEs since it further extends the chain of command unnecessarily in some cases. Entry-level logistics managers earn roughly $113,000+ per year on an average, with senior logistics head positions easily being filled for more than $130,000+/year. Aside from working within the industrial supply chain directly, logisticians are also necessary personnel recruited by:
- Departments of national defense such as the military and the police
- IT (Information Technology)
Procurement is a department within the supply chain that seldom gets the attention it deserves because people usually consider it to be a part of logistics itself. While that is very much true, larger companies require separate procurement managers to head the departments individually. Also known as purchase managers, these professionals are also frequently found within a company’s accountancy and finance department, where their roles remain similar, but may now include more than just procuring for the supply chain side of the business. To get a better idea regarding what purchase managers do exactly, let’s go through some of their main functions within an organization next.
- Development of purchasing strategies, in line with the company’s requirements and budget-induced limits
- Maintenance of the same purchasing strategy throughout the relevant operations and/or time period defined
- Assuring compliance of the prepared and approved procurement strategy
In terms of salary, very few jobs in supply chain management have a more variable salary than the purchasing manager. Consider the fact that the median can range between $52,000/year – $120,000/year, and you should have a clear idea regarding the level of variance that exists in this particular field. It is particularly difficult, therefore, to state what should be your expected salary, should you pursue a career in this field. Nevertheless, bigger companies pay their procurement managers significantly (read double or more) better than smaller ones.
Another sub-department of the supply chain, operations is the department that handles nearly all aspects of the actual manufacturing and/or service delivery process, depending on what that particular company’s supply chain management involves. Just as it is with other departments within the supply chain, operations may often overlap with logistics and procurement, but it does have a distinctive, separate identity. The operations managers, however, will experience varying sets of duties, depending on their specific role in the department, as assigned by the employer.
Generally, the various tasks of an operations manager can be categorized as follows, although there can be several other duties added to the mix as well.
- Recruitment, training, reassignment, and management of the workforce and the workflow
- Financial estimation and budget creation for the operations department
- Improving work-efficiency, financial-efficiency, and time-efficiency within operations
- Checking and ensuring high quality (product/service) that is in compliance with the client’s expectations
Especially in a small or small – medium-sized company, the operations manager could also be tasked with handling multiple additional duties, which would otherwise be handled by a procurement manager. Despite handling more duties than a lot of other similar roles, operations managers are not paid well within the industry. The average comes to around $66,000 approx. annually, with only very experienced high-level seniors touching the $80k – $90k mark per year. If you wish to pursue a career as an operations manager, California is the best state to start with, with Texas and New York also being decent locations to find a good rate of employment and a higher than average salary.
Transportation is an intricately important part of the supply chain, and it is so crucial and vast that this department alone will often require a separate team of supply chain managers. This is precisely why delivery companies exist outside of the manufacturer’s own in-house delivery system. Even the likes of Amazon have to partner up with external delivery partners at times in some sectors, due to the complexity of the logistics involved in transportation management.
Consequently, it’s not really surprising that transportation managers get paid more than $93,000 per year on an average, with even moderately experienced transport managers easily crossing $110,000 per year benchmarks. It should also be noted that transport managers also enjoy the luxury of having potential job roles across more industries than any other type of supply chain professional. These industries include but are not limited to retail, manufacturing, travel & tourism, catering, government transportation departments, and medical transportation.
As is always the situation with key roles within this industry, the roles of a transport manager are variable to some degree, but they should for the most part, include everything that exists within picking up a shipment/a set of passengers, to dropping it/them off at their final destination. Safety and timely delivery are the two main prerogatives in industrial transportation management, with the same being applicable for travel and tourism as well, but only with added elements of entertainment, luxury, cost-efficiency, etc. It’s a big role to handle, and large companies generally have several executives to handle transportation effectively.
A warehouse manager is often designated as the storage and distribution manager as well, but the former is a more befitting term unless the job is further subdivided by higher officials. Storage and distribution management essentially refers to inventory management, which means that it is one of the prime duties of a warehouse management executive. To put the highly paid ($95,000 approx. annually) supply chain executive’s expected duties in better order, we have summarized the main roles they undertake.
- Managing every facet of the warehouse`s inventory, such as estimating orders, taking orders, and stocking accordingly for swift and timely dispatching of shipments
- Acting as the overseer of distribution channels to ensure proper, timely dispatching to the right clients
- Recruiting and training assistants, warehouse workers, and clerks as necessary
- Re-channeling the workforce regularly and as necessary to maximize efforts in areas that take priority
- Preparing the budget by estimating demands
- Ensuring warehouse safety for both the goods stored within, as well as creating a safe work environment inside for the workers.
There is no lack of job opportunities in any of the roles that we just discussed, but the pay will be different in different companies, even if you hold the same job title. The location will also play a major role in determining what can be expected for the job on offer. Nevertheless, as a young supply chain management professional slowly begins to gain experience and adds a few higher certifications to further cement their professional expertise and understanding of the industry, the lines between jobs will also begin to blur.
What it means is that after roughly a decade of experience and with a good reputation, you will likely not have to worry too much about searching for career opportunities anymore. At that point, you will become an asset with intricate knowledge, experience, and training in supply chain management. The best part is, due to the wide applicability of the skills that supply chain experts possess, they are assets who can easily change employers with nothing to lose.