The Ultimate Guide To Supply Chain Management Career Path

Embarking on a career in supply chain management exposes an individual to one of the most diverse and interesting roles in the formal business sector. Supply chain management combines functions like planning, procurement, ordering, logistics, and manufacturing within the commercial business sector.

Logistics and supply chain management relate to almost every sector. This means the government sector to NPOs, including both public and private concerns.

Supply chain management careers are rewarding. Experienced managers slot seamlessly into a variety of roles in most business sectors. With their broad skillsets, these professionals can move from one role to another, gaining experience and expertise, as opportunities for advancement in this industry are plentiful.

Education and Certifications

Education requirements for a career in supply chain management

When you decide to pursue a career in one of the many supply chain management roles, you are best served by completing a graduate-level supply chain management degree.

As an aspiring supply chain management professional, your initial step should be to finish a postsecondary education like a bachelor’s degree. Degrees in supply management, finance, business, or another related field are most suitable.

Completing one of these bachelor’s degrees will position you to forge a career in one of many entry-level positions across a range of supply chain industry sectors. To advance further, however, you may need additional and more specialized education, particularly for complex sectors such as healthcare.

Types of certifications available for supply chain management professionals

Holding a supply chain management certification shows a company that a candidate has the technical skills to benefit their organization. There are several supply chain management certification programs that stimulate the advancement of these careers worldwide. Some of the best certifications for supply chain professionals are:

  • CLTD – ASCM Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution
  • CPCM – NCMA Certified Professional Contract Manager
  • CPIM – ASCM Certified in Production and Inventory Management
  • CPL – SOLE Certified Professional Logistician
  • CPSD – ISM Certified Professional in Supplier Diversity
  • CPSM – ISM Certified Professional in Supply Management
  • CSCMP – SCPro Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals certification
  • CSCP – ASCM Certified Supply Chain Professional certification
  • Oracle E-Business Suite 12 Supply Chain Certified Implementation Specialist – Oracle Purchasing certification
  • SCOR-P – ASCM Supply Chain Operations Reference Endorsement
  • SCPro Council of Supply Chain Management Fundamentals certification
  • Six Sigma Black Belt certification

Advantages of obtaining a supply chain management certification

  • Certified supply chain managers earn good salaries. Most have retained their jobs, even during economic downturns. The median annual salary for ASCM and APICS-certified supply chain professionals in 2021 was upward of $85,000. 95% of those also kept their positions in the previous few years Over 20% of undergraduates with these certifications received promotions.
  • A certified supply chain manager is sought-after, with regular employment opportunities arising at major companies like SpaceX, Amazon, Apple, and Tesla. Supply chain management careers are more in demand now than at any other time during the past two decades.
  • Certified supply chain professionals in transportation, logistics, and distribution strategize the movement of products throughout the entire supply chain.
  • As a certified supply chain manager, you are part of an inclusive and diverse profession. The gaps in remuneration between the sexes for employees under 40 is constantly reducing.
  • Certified supply chain professionals are equipped to develop as innovations and technologies advance. The supply chain industry is now set up with highly-automated AI intelligence and robotics creating technologically-advanced roles for humans.

Popular certification bodies for supply chain management professionals

Job Roles in Supply Chain Management

Manufacturing: Certain supply chain managerial roles focus solely on product manufacturing. An industrial production manager, for example, will deal with inventory management, product quality, and pricing.

Industrial production managers typically hold a bachelor’s degree, with majors in engineering and business. Some employees qualify for management positions through extensive experience in production coupled with a high school diploma. Industrial production managers earn an average salary of $103,150 each year.

Merchandising: Supply chain careers often incorporate the merchandising function. This includes product descriptions, designs, and packaging. A supply chain manager in merchandising (or a merchandising manager) collaborates with the marketing department to introduce new products or services to the market.

The average annual salary of a merchandising manager is $86,346. These professionals generally hold at least an associate degree or vocational certificate in business, marketing, or retail management. Some may hold a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management, business administration, or marketing.

Operations and logistics: Some supply chain managers coordinate projects involving systems, processes, structures, and transportation of products. These professionals are invariably operations or logistics managers. They need sound knowledge to plan and carry out the smooth delivery of goods and services.

Most operations managers hold at least a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management, business, or logistics. They should have advanced knowledge of supply chain processes and ERP systems and related software. They earn, on average, $114,050 every year.

Management employees with the logistics manager job title are not as well paid, earning average salaries of $76,726 annually. A bachelor’s degree in business management and a minimum of three years of targeted work experience should suffice to become a logistics manager in the supply chain industry.

Supplier procurement processes and relations: Managing internal processes in supply chains often falls within the job specification of a procurement or supplier relationship manager. These managers deal with new suppliers and make sure they’re compliant regarding company processes. They also keep them happy by adhering to payment terms.

A procurement manager earns an average of $104,521 annually. This role generally requires at least a bachelor’s degree in supply chain management or business administration. These employees may also hold a purchasing manager degree.

A supplier relationship manager earns an average annual salary of $132,800. They should hold a bachelor of business administration (BBA) in accounting, business, business administration, finance, or marketing.

Ethics and sustainability: Maintaining ethical and sustainable supply chains is the mandate of sustainability managers. This is an important role; ensuring employers operate in a legal manner while also improving their company image.

To qualify for a supply chain job as a sustainability manager, you will need a relevant bachelor’s degree. Some successful applicants complete apprenticeships or college courses while possessing excellent job knowledge. The average annual salary for a qualified sustainability manager is $128,395.

Skills Required for a Successful Supply Chain Management Career

When considering applying for logistics and supply chain jobs that could result in a career path as a supply chain manager, it is important to identify with skills that are important for such positions. The following should be among those:

  • Analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Communication and negotiation skills
  • Time management and organizational skills
  • Technological and digital literacy
  • Industry-specific knowledge

Job Search Strategies

Tips for finding the right supply chain management job

If you are interested in a logistics or supply chain career that will bring you to the management level, familiarize yourself with basic supply chain knowledge. This is not always a requirement to join the industry at an entry-level position but will stand you in good stead when it comes to moving up in the industry.

Should you choose this route, becoming a supply chain analyst, buyer, or coordinator is a good starting point. Building skills like strategic sourcing, inventory planning, and relationship management enables employees to forge management-level careers.

A quicker and more direct route to a supply chain career in management is through study. The more targeted education you have, the greater your chances of cementing a position in management. Gaining a supply chain certification through one of the bodies mentioned earlier offers more opportunities for career advancement.

Networking strategies for supply chain management professionals

Joining certification bodies like ASCM and ISM provides networking opportunities. When looking to build a successful supply chain career, the more advice and knowledge you can get the better. You can also join relevant social media groups to exchange ideas with other professionals.

Job search resources for supply chain management professionals

Read blogs, watch webinars, and investigate other content of primary certification bodies. It is also beneficial to visit recognized supply chain, business, and media websites.

With so many elite companies interviewing and hiring, candidates have many opportunities to join the ranks of supply chain professionals worldwide.

Remember that a strong resume detailing your suitability for a position can be a massive factor in securing employment. Adding a detailed and targeted cover letter to each prospective employer will advance your cause even more.

Building a Successful Career in Supply Chain Management

Strategies for building a strong reputation in the industry

By adhering to the following strategies, you can build a solid reputation in the supply chain management industry. This gives you access to new opportunities; expanding your network, and achieving long-term success.

  • Develop a clear and compelling value proposition
  • Build relationships with key stakeholders
  • Focus on delivering high-quality work
  • Embrace new technology and innovation
  • Communicate clearly and effectively

Tips for professional development and career growth

Develop your soft skills: Use workshops and training to enhance your soft skills. Good communication, problem-solving, and leadership qualities are important when it comes to:

  • Effective operations and production planning
  • Data analysis
  • Logistical and warehouse management
  • Quality control

Build a diverse network: Gain new insights and perspectives by building relationships with professionals from diverse industries. Become part of industry groups and take part in networking events to expand your knowledge.

Keep updated on industry trends: Stay informed on the developments in the supply chain industry. Attend conferences, join professional associations, and read industry publications.

Seek out opportunities for further education and certifications: If you have not done so already, obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree in supply chain management. You can also pursue professional certifications like the CSCP or the CPSM.

Find mentorship: An experienced colleague, supervisor, or industry specialist can make a good mentor or coach. A mentor offers support and guidance as you navigate your career.

Challenge yourself: Seek new responsibilities and challenges that expand your skillset and work experience. Volunteering for leadership positions and accepting new projects or assignments provide challenges. Specializing in new sectors or fields within supply chains also falls into this category.

Target international work: Due to the global nature of supply chain managers, experience working internationally can be valuable for advancing your supply chain career. If you get the chance to work with international partners, take full advantage of the offer.

How to build a personal brand in supply chain management

You will need a combination of excellent communication skills, knowledge and expertise, and effective networking to establish a strong personal brand in managing supply chains. Some tips to consider are:

Display your expertise: With the relevant qualifications and certifications, you can show your expertise in the industry. Furthermore, by keeping up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices, you can enhance your personal brand. Appearing regularly at seminars and conferences also means more exposure.

Maintaining a presence on social media sites like LinkedIn, and on industry groups, will further promote your brand.

Communicate clearly and concisely: Communicate complex concepts in the simplest way possible. Get used to speaking publicly. Tailor your communication style to suit a range of audiences, adapting between customers, colleagues, and senior executives.

Be authentic: Be true to who you are. Show your beliefs and values, and stay committed to your personal brand. Authenticity establishes trust and credibility within your network. This is essential to building a reputable personal brand.

Challenges and Opportunities in Supply Chain Management

Supply chain professionals face several challenges in management roles. Overcoming these hurdles demands strategic thinking, technical expertise, good communication, and collaboration.

Disruptions in supply chains

Natural disasters, economic fluctuations, and political and social instability can create vulnerabilities within logistics systems. Adopting proactive flexibility, resilience, and agility can turn these challenges into opportunities.

Investing in new technologies, optimizing inventory management, and diversifying suppliershelp to develop suitable contingency plans. Bycollaborating with partners, you can share best practices and turn potential disasters into opportunitiesfor expansion.

Cost reduction

Reducing costs without undermining quality can be a challenge. It often means sourcing new suppliers, more economical transportation, and cheaper warehousing.

If you can take on this challenge effectively, you can create opportunities for increased profitability and a competitive edge.

Talent management

Managing talent can be challenging, as you need to identify and develop employees with suitable skills. You also need to provide opportunities for their development and growth. Once you have a pool of talent, it is imperative to keep your team from being head-hunted by the opposition.

Creating a culture that supports innovation, flexibility and continuous improvement among your talent goes a long way to building your company’s cohesion. Your company will gain a reputation for a decent working environment, making it easier to recruit talent in the future.

Inventory management

Managing inventory can be a challenging task. It requires a firm balance of supply and demand while optimizing warehouse space and minimizing the carrying costs of the inventory.

By honing your inventory levels, improving your forecasts for demand, and incorporating innovative cost-reduction technologies, service levels improve and customer satisfaction increases.

Future Trends and Developments in Supply Chain Management

The following trends are driving efficiency, sustainability, and innovation in the field of supply chain management. By all accounts, they look set to continue.

  • Digitalization and automation
  • Sustainability and ethics
  • Greater collaboration and more partnerships
  • Blockchain technology
  • Predictive analytics and AI
  • Circular supply chain models
  • More focus on resilience and risk management


The role of a manager in the supply chain field is a diverse and expanding career path. Several global company players are placing increased emphasis on using the perfect management for the supply chains they have in place.

Although the industry is competitive, there is still potential for interested parties to forge long-lasting and profitable supply chain management careers. Varied career paths throughout the entire supply chain are available if you are willing to work for them.


What are the job roles available in supply chain management?

Some of the common job roles in supply chain management are as follows:

  • Purchasing manager
  • Supply chain planner
  • Logistics manager
  • Inventory manager
  • Warehouse manager
  • Demand planner
  • Operations manager
  • Supplier relationship manager
  • Quality control manager
  • Sustainability manager
  • Trade compliance manager
  • Transportation manager

How do I find the right supply chain management job?

The best ways to find the right position to start your supply chain management career are:

  • Research available job descriptions and tailor your resume to the requirements
  • Network with fellow industry professionals
  • Highlight the relevant experience you have when preparing for interviews

How can I stay updated with the latest trends and developments in supply chain management?

You should do the following:

  • Attend industry webinars and conferences
  • Read industry-related publications
  • Network with fellow supply chain professionals
  • Sign up with professional associations in your field