Have you been thinking of making a career switch? A career in supply chain and logistics could be a smart choice, especially if you work well under pressure and are capable of traveling to multiple work sites.
While careers in these fields aren’t growing at a fantastic rate, they’re essential to the current and future economic growth of the national and global economies. As such, someone with a degree in logistics or supply chain management is likely to spend very little time unemployed.
What is the Supply Chain and Logistics Field?
The supply chain and logistics fields are both pretty broad. You can easily split this idea into two complete wholes:
- Supply Chain Management
While closely related, these two fields do focus on some subjects and ideas more than others. Still, before we delve into each field, it’s crucial to define them.
Supply Chain Management
A supply chain is a web or network of many various businesses and individuals. To fully understand the supply chain, it may be helpful to think of a busy train station.
A train station that is a hub for many lines is likely to be very busy. There is a constant commotion as trains arrive and depart. However, quite a lot of business gets down due to this station’s location and utility.
As such, it’s a successful train station. Businesses that sell goods work in much the same way. To sell food, items, clothing, and any other material good, a business must first procure it.
Some goods may be purchased pre-manufactured, while others must be specially designed and created either on-site or at a manufacturing plant. In most cases, a business must find an external source of materials or goods to function. This is the first rail line.
If the business must purchase materials and hire a team to manufacture items, there are two rail lines. As soon as buyers become engaged with the business and begin purchasing items, infinite rail lines are added. This idea is often summed up by the phrase supply chain.
In many cases, the chain-like quality is lost, making it more of a supply web. Still, understanding how these networks function, interact and grow is essential for long-term business growth. As such, a career in supply chain management requires an almost engineer-like ability to consider the way that several entities may interact with one another to produce a specific outcome.
Logistics is the understanding and management of goods in terms of their procurement, transportation, and storage. Logisticians will attempt to find the most cost-effective and local suppliers when seeking materials for a company’s manufacturing needs.
The study of logistics is essentially a study of resource management. To understand this field, you may want to imagine that you’ve washed up onto a deserted tropical island. There are plenty of fruit-bearing trees around and a fresh source of water, but not much else. How will you survive?
The answer is logistics. By carefully rationing your resources, storing them away to help prolong their usefulness, and cultivating more resources that are near to your work area or sleeping space, you could lessen the amount of energy you expend each day simply attempting to survive.
Over time, you may have enough free time to begin working on a sea-faring craft or method of rescue. And it would all be thanks to logistics (and a little good luck).
What Career Paths Are Available in Supply Chain and Logistics?
Because companies differ greatly in terms of their supply needs and preferences, there are quite a few potential careers that individuals with degrees in supply chain management or logistics can pursue. Some of the most popular careers include:
- Supply Chain Manager
- Operation Manager
- Logistics Analyst
- Purchasing Manager
Let’s take a closer look at each of these careers to help you better understand them and their responsibilities. After all, it can be challenging to commit to a new career path if you’re not familiar with your future duties, salary, or job growth opportunities.
Supply Chain Manager
Supply chain managers have their fingers in many pies. They’re responsible for overseeing a company’s supply chain networks and maximizing the supply chain’s efficiency. They do this by employing their management and logistics training, every day.
This position can be fast-paced and require long hours. However, it provides a sense of satisfaction that can’t be found outside of management positions. It features a competitive average annual salary. Individuals willing to put in the hours and tackle grand projects, consistently, may be well-suited for this position.
- Create supply chain strategies
- Find solutions to supply challenges
- Optimize the efficiency of supply chains
- Offer suggestions for improvements
- Train a team
- Evaluate employees
- Collaborate with other teams within a company
- Determine the best vendors
- Develop relationships with company heads and vendors
- Coordinate all supply tasks
The average annual income for a supply chain manager is about $109,430.
While it is possible to secure an entry-level job in this field with an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree is preferred.
Expected Growth (2019-2029)
An operations manager is typically just as busy as a chain supply manager. However, operations managers tend to work on a slightly smaller scale, managing a succinct team of individuals toward a common goal or task.
As an operations manager, you may be asked to train your team members, hire new employees, perform evaluations, and oversee the particular operations of a specific department. Due to the variability of this position, exact duties are bound to differ among companies and departments.
- Be an excellent team leader
- Encourage and train team members
- Hire new team members
- Implement operations policies and suggest an improvement
- Build partnerships with other companies and local businesses
- Ensure optimal communication among other departments
Operations managers, also known as top executives, earn an average of $104,690 per year. That’s about $50 per hour.
You’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree to become an operations manager. Having a master’s degree in supply chain management and logistics may make you a more desirable candidate, helping you to earn more and find employment more readily.
Expected Growth (2019-2029)
Logistics analysts, or operations research analysts, rely on complex mathematics to help businesses solve their logistics issues. As such, they often work closely with various data-tracking software to discern potential issues along the supply chain route.
The primary role of an operations research analyst is to collect data, interpret it, and offer suggestions based on their analysis. They can potentially help a company become more efficient and save some money on the cost of goods and/or transport.
- Identify areas of concerns within a pool of data
- Collect data
- Analyze and interpret complex information
- Find patterns in the data they collect
- Offer suggestions based on their findings
Logistics analysts earn about $84,810 per year or about $41 per hour.
You’ll need a bachelor’s degree to begin work as a logistics analyst.
Expected Growth (2019-2029)
Unfortunately, the job outlook for purchasing managers isn’t currently looking very good. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pursue a career as a purchasing manager. It only means that you may require a master’s degree to stay competitive within the field.
Purchasing managers are responsible for working with suppliers and companies to work out contracts and agreements. They also evaluate potential supplies and materials, make recommendations to companies, and help secure the acquisition of materials.
- Buy goods on behalf of companies or organizations
- Evaluate different materials, supplies, and goods for quality purposes
- Recommend specific products to clients
- Create agreements between companies and suppliers
Those that decide to become a purchasing manager can look forward to an average annual salary of about $69,600 per year. That’s just about $33 per hour.
Want to become a purchasing manager? You’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree if you want to catch the attention of hiring employers.
Expected Growth (2019-2029)
Logisticians have an eye for details. They’re able to view complex systems and zero-in on specific problems or areas of concern. This allows them to plan more effective and efficient transportation routes, material acquisitions, and product distribution methods.
Logisticians typically work closely with technology to derive patterns from data. They must also be able to communicate with clients and supplies professionally. As such, this position may be ideal for those who desire to analyze information and work with others.
- Make suggestions concerning supply and transport efficiency
- Identify flaws in current logistics plans and systems
- Communicate effectively with clients and suppliers
- Oversee the acquisition, manufacture, transport, and eventual sale of products
Logisticians earn an average of $74,750 per year. That’s almost $36 per hour.
To become a logistician, you’ll need to secure a bachelor’s degree.
Expected Growth (2019-2029)
What Are the Education Requirements?
You may be surprised to learn that you can get into the supply chain and logistics field without getting a bachelor’s degree. However, it’s vital to note that having a four-year degree could make you a more attractive candidate for employers.
Additionally, a bachelor’s degree in either logistics or supply chain management could help you feel more comfortable and prepared to handle the many challenges of being a manager or logistician.
Still, you’ll need to explore your education options and choose the one that works for your lifestyle, career goals, and budget.
If you’re willing to work your way up from the factory floor, you might do fine with an associate’s degree in supply chain management and logistics. That’s because a two-year degree simply cannot impart the full depth of information required to start-out at a high-paying position.
However, if you’re more anxious to begin working and less excited to sit in more classes, you may find that an associate’s degree allows you to get your foot in the door and begin your new career.
With the right attitude and a dedication to continued on-site learning, you may rise through the ranks quite quickly. Of course, you could also devote two more years to schooling and, upon graduating, immediately find yourself in a more handsome pay grade.
Getting a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management and logistics is perhaps the most traditional route. After four years of schooling, you should be able to manage and handle the majority of associated responsibilities, making you a fine candidate for employment.
While pursuing your four-year degree in these fields, you’ll likely take courses in supply chain management principles, the effects of globalization on the traditional supply chain, the effectiveness of various supply chain examples, and new design implementation.
Major areas that are covered include:
- Data Analysis
- Information Systems
Many students who choose to major in supply chain management may supplement their primary course curriculum with courses from these major subjects.
Post Graduate Education
If you’re searching to really distinguish yourself from other candidates and also discover more in-depth principles behind supply chain management and logistics, you may want to pursue a master’s degree in these fields.
If you do, you can expect to take courses like:
- Fundamentals of Supply Chain Planning
- Analytical Methods for Supply Chain Management
- Data Science and Machine Learning for Supply Chain Management
- Freight Transportation
- Digital Supply Chain Transformation
Though you’ll likely spend at least another year in school, you’ll also find yourself within a higher pay tier. Those with post-graduate education in supply chain management and logistics often find themselves earning an average of $106,000 each year.
You could succeed in a career in supply chain management or logistics, especially if you’re prepared for the challenges ahead. Hopefully, this article helped to fill any gaps in the information you may have had on the subject.
If not, be sure to continue research on your own! You’re bound to learn more fascinating information about these two related fields and their many potential career opportunities.