The Ultimate Guide to Supply Chain Management and Logistics Careers

If you’ve been thinking about starting or transitioning into a career in supply chain or logistics, there’s never been a better time.

Since the COVID-19-induced global supply chain disruption, organizations have turned focus to improving the efficiency and resiliency of their supply chains, increasing the demand for skilled talent across all levels.

In this guide, you’ll learn why a career in supply chain offers tremendous room for growth, tips for breaking into the field, and skills that can help you accelerate advancement.

Why Choose a Career in Supply Chain Management or Logistics?

In the wake of the pandemic, it’s processes, not products, at the center of innovation. Supply chain and logistics careers offer a front-row seat to the entire process of planning, sourcing, producing, and transporting goods to consumers, with ample opportunity to both diversify your skillset and choose an area of specialization that fits your strengths.
Supply chain and logistics professionals also enjoy higher salaries and stronger career opportunities compared to averages for most jobs.

1. A Future-Proof Career

In Gartner’s 2019 Digital Talent Gap Survey, only 27% of supply chain leaders said they had the talent needed to meet current supply chain performance requirements. Since the pandemic, this demand has only accelerated, compounded by the urgent need to digitize and restructure disrupted operations and re-strategize for a more resilient future. Supply chain and logistics professionals equipped with strong technical and analytical skills will be well-positioned for impactful, high-growth careers.

2. Climbing Salaries

Over the past decade, supply chain management and logistics salaries have been steadily climbing. According to 2020 survey data from the Association For Supply Chain Management (ASCM), supply chain and logistics professionals with a bachelor’s degree reportedly earn a median salary of $78,750. In the same survey, 91% also reported receiving additional bonuses on top of their base salary.

Experience is the biggest factor in determining salary. The median salary for entry-level supply chain professionals is $60,000, and that number can jump upwards to $90,000 for those with five to ten years of experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that logistics professionals earn a median salary of $76,270, and logistics managers and directors with 15 or more years of experience earn an average salary of $123,800 to $168,670.

WHAT IS LOGISTICS?

The focus of logistics is the transportation and distribution of goods. From warehousing to inventory management to fleet management operations, logistics holds jobs for people of all experience and educational levels.

3. Strong Job Satisfaction

2020 survey data from the ASCM reported that 88% of supply chain professionals felt optimistic about their careers. Logistics professionals report even higher career satisfaction rates, with roughly 94% of respondents stating satisfaction with their job. Survey data from the 2019 Young Professionals In Supply Chain found that a majority of young supply chain professionals felt challenged and supported by their managers and peers, and an astounding 70% of respondents felt their companies offer a fairly good chance for promotion.

Supply Chain Management and Logistics Career Paths

According to data from the APICS Foundation, most supply chain professionals hold multiple roles across the supply chain as they advance in their careers. The nonlinear nature of the field of supply chain is a result of the importance of understanding supply chain processes from end to end.

However, that’s not to say that supply chain professionals can’t choose to specialize in one domain. In the image below, find a few examples of the possible supply chain management career paths.

As shown in this image, it’s possible to stay in one function of the supply chain or move across different areas as you move towards the c-suite. For example, you can start your career as a logistics resource planner, move up to logistics manager, then logistics director, and lastly enter the c-suite as chief supply chain officer.

At their core, these flexible pathways rely on fundamental business, operations, and project management skills—all of which are excellent entry points into the field. Areas like marketing and information systems also offer valuable transferable skills that, paired with supply chain fundamentals and other critical skills, prepare professionals to thrive in supply chain roles.

“Companies want people with diverse backgrounds,” said Ed Anderson, Jr. Centennial Professor for the Management of Innovative Technology at the University of Texas, Austin. “For example, they’re willing to train someone with an information systems background and turn them into a supply chain manager.”

Supply chain and logistics have never been more vital in today’s economy. With more organizations seeking to employ skilled, experienced supply chain management professionals, a career in supply chain is sure to be high in demand over the long term. If you’re interested in learning supply chain fundamentals, advancing your career, or earning a supply chain degree, explore industry-aligned courses and programs at edX.

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