Supply Chain Careers: An Inside Look

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Whether you are a supply chain newbie—fresh out of school perhaps—or an industry veteran, chances are you give great thought to the future of your logistics career.

Every industry—pharmaceutical, services, automotive, even the military—needs purchasing, operations, and logistics managers. The demand for supply chain managers is rising, and will continue to increase due to the growing focus on supply chain management as a strategic business function.

The increased outsourcing of U.S. jobs is actually increasing the demand for logistics managers, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. Moreover, the frenetic pace of global trade, coupled with the outsourcing of manufacturing around the world, has transformed delivering products into a complex engineering task.

Companies enlist logistics professionals to untangle supply chains and to monitor shipping lanes and weather patterns. Although many jobs are now going overseas, there is a demand for service providers to manage these shipping arrangements with flexible supply chains and delivery channels.

A huge pent-up demand exists for people with these skills. Schools with supply chain programs have seen a substantial increase in the number of companies recruiting their students, as well as increased student interest in supply chain careers.

These factors make this an ideal time to review your supply chain career options. Where will you end up? What jobs are you best suited for? What can you expect from this constantly evolving industry?

Career Track

A career in supply chain management can focus on a wide variety of functional areas, such as:

  • Marketing: customer service, logistics services, marketing, sales
  • Logistics: planning and analysis, warehouse management, transportation management, inventory management
  • Operations: production planning, maintenance, materials or production scheduling, inventory planning and control
  • Quality: quality assurance, testing, or training
  • Purchasing: commodity management, materials planning, inventory management
  • Engineering: development of new products
  • Information Systems: database management, material requirements planning, enterprise resource planning implementation

Logistics professionals often work in many different areas during their careers, spurred by changing needs—both their own and those of their employers.

If you decide to pursue a career in supply chain management, you will find it helpful to check out some of the many professional organizations affiliated with the industry. These organizations have professional certification programs that establish individuals as 'certified professionals' within their particular field.

Meet and Greet

Organizations also hold regular meetings on a local level that offer networking opportunities, and help professionals identify emerging trends and issues. Many have national and international meetings as well, which are a great way to network on a broader level.

Some organizations also offer scholarships, helping to defray expensive education costs.

These logistics professional organizations include:

American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS). Provides leadership in production control and inventory management, including enterprise resource planning. www.apics.org

Institute for Supply Management (ISM). Provides national and international leadership in purchasing and materials management, including the areas of education, research, and standards of excellence. Established in 1915, ISM has grown to 40,000 members. www.ism.ws

Council of Logistics Management (CLM). One of the preeminent professional associations for worldwide logistics leadership; develops, disseminates, and advances logistics knowledge. www.clm1.org

American Society for Quality (ASQ). Offers leadership and education in all aspects of quality improvement, including the Baldrige Award, ISO 9000, and continuous improvement activities. www.asq.org

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