What is a Supply Chain Manager

What is Supply Chain Management?

Supply chain management consists of managing all the steps it takes to get a product into a consumers hand. This includes raw materials, processing, storing products in a warehouse, moving from distribution centers to stores, and offering customer service. As a supply chain manager, you make sure every step happens flawlessly so the company makes the most profit from the sale of their product.

The W.P. Carey School of Business has a great video that answers the question, what is supply chain management:

Supply Chain Manager Job Description

As a supply chain manager, you'll be called upon to purchase materials to support production. You'll analyze and supervise the storage, use, and transport of materials and inventory. You'll negotiate prices and delivery of materials to produce cost savings and reduce lead times. You'll assess the entire flow of goods and materials to ensure efficient delivery, quality goods, and on-time delivery of those goods.

Some of the duties required of a supply chain manager are:

  • material resource planning
  • enterprise resource planning
  • audit and monitor suppliers
  • source components under pressure
  • establish new suppliers
  • monitor and develop existing supply chain
  • initiate and lead cost-saving initiatives
  • negotiate and manage contracts


Supply Chain Management Degrees

There are a variety of degrees that can lead to a job as a supply chain manager. The lowest level is an associates degree in supply chain management, which may help you secure an entry level position in supply chain management. However, a bachelors degree in supply chain management is required for most jobs, and many positions prefer a masters degree in supply chain management or an MBA. Other popular undergraduate degrees include a bachelors degree in business, bachelors degree in engineering, bachelors degree in aerospace engineering, or a bachelors degree in operations management.

Supply Chain Management Classes

There are a variety of classes you may take with a degree in supply chain management.

  • Financial Accounting
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Spreadsheet Software
  • Business Operations Management
  • Business Writing
  • Business Management
  • Business Law
  • Business Math
  • Business Ethics
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Inventory Control
  • Material Requirements Planning (MRP)
  • Purchasing
  • Just-in-Time (JIT) Inventory

Additional Skills Needed to be an Supply Chain Manager

Technology plays a large part in your job as a supply chain manager. In addition to your management skills, you'll be expected to be able to use a computer, along with various types of computer software to track materials and goods.

In addition to technology, you'll need strong leadership skills, critical thinking skills, analytical skills, communication skills and the ability to help train and develop your staff. These are general skills you will acquire through your education, training and work-related experience.

Because you'll be working in global environment, other skills that will help you succeed as an supply chain manager include:

  • knowledge of a foreign language
  • Understanding of international standards
  • technical background in engineering or computer science
  • manufacturing experience or knowledge

Career Advancement in Supply Chain Management

There are many ways to begin your career in supply chain management. An undergraduate degree will enable you to get a job with manufacturing companies and begin gaining experience in supply chain management straight out of college. Entry level positions in supply chain management might include fleet management, purchasing agent, buyer, shipping and receiving agent, inventory analyst, routing manager, or customer service rep. As you gain experience in your particular industry, more opportunities for management will become available to you. In addition to experience, you'll also want to consider getting a masters in supply chain management or an MBA in order to advance your career.

Supply Chain Manager Organizations

Organizations for supply chain managers include:

In addition to these supply chain organizations, most colleges and universities will have a supply chain management association which you may wish to join while you attend classes.

Supply Chain Manager Jobs

Supply chain management jobs include:

  • buyer
  • purchasing agent
  • warehouse manager
  • inventory manager
  • production control analyst
  • materials manager
  • logistics manager


To get a job in supply chain management, you'll want to consider getting an education that will qualify you for these positions. Take a look at some of these business degrees online.

Supply Chain Manager Salary

One of the many questions people ask is: "How much money will I make as an supply chain manager?" According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, median annual wages of purchasing managers were $89,160 in 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $67,370 and $115,830. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $51,490, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $142,550.