Distribution Management Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's & Online Training Info

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What kind of job can you get with an associate's or bachelor's degree in distribution management? Find out degree program requirements, online options and info on courses and distribution management training programs.
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Studying Distribution Management: Degrees at a Glance

Distribution management is a component of the supply-chain management field. Professionals in the field perform tasks in transportation, customer service, order processing, purchasing, sales, inventory and warehousing. Opportunities in management require candidates with a well-rounded education in business supplemented by courses in logistics, supply-chain management or distribution. The associate's degree program offers a foundation in traffic, warehouse and industrial concepts. The bachelor's degree can further your education through coursework that explores advanced topics in supply-chain, inventory and purchasing management.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed that some entry-level occupations will experience no change or slower than average job growth over the 2010-2020 decade. The education required to enter some positions varies depending on the level of technical or scientific knowledge required and other factors. For example, technical or scientific sales opportunities may require a bachelor's degree.

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People seeking entry-level support opportunities in the transportation or distribution sectors Individuals seeking a career path in distribution or transportation management
Common Career Paths (with approximate median or mean annual salary) - Shipping and receiving clerk ($30,500)*
- Cargo or freight agent ($41,000 mean)*
- Wholesale and manufacturing sales representative of non-technical and non-scientific products ($64,000)*
- Logistician ($75,000)*
- Wholesale and manufacturing sales representative of technical and scientific products ($86,000)*
- Transportation, storage or distribution manager ($89,000)*
- Purchasing manager ($103,000)*
- General operations manager ($115,000)*
Time to Completion 2 years full-time 2 years full-time with a transferrable associate's degree, 4 years full-time without an associate's degree
Common Graduation Requirements - Approximately 60 credits in general education and core courses
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- Approximately 120 credits in general education, core and advanced or upper-level courses
- Internship or capstone project
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Yes Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Associate's Degree in Distribution Management

The associate's degree program provides a basic knowledge of the business, logistics and distribution concepts required for entry-level opportunities. Schools structure programs to offer problem-solving, financial and supervisory training. Your selected program may award an associate's degree in logistics, distribution or supply-chain management. In addition to knowledge-based classes, you may take a capstone course to apply what you have learned in a collaborative environment. Graduates of associate's degree programs qualify for multiple opportunities in materials handling, distribution center support and warehouse business operations.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Business courses and degree flexibility provide the education to enter business occupations outside the industry
  • This credential will make you competitive for opportunities that require a high school diploma or post-secondary courses in business
  • Positions that require an associate's or high school diploma pay relatively competitive salaries if you gain the appropriate experience

Cons

  • Access to scientific or technical opportunities will most likely require a bachelor's degree
  • Some purchasing occupations will experience slower than average job growth (5-7%) through 2020*
  • Obtaining additional credentials, including certification, will extend your education beyond 2 years

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 growth projections).

Courses and Requirements

The associate's degree combines roughly 60 credits in general studies courses with distribution management and general business concepts. The program offers a well-rounded education that may transfer to a bachelor's degree program. Some colleges offer an internship, which will provide you with valuable experience. Following are some common courses:

  • Economics of distribution
  • Traffic management principles
  • Domestic transportation
  • Industrial safety
  • Supply chain management
  • Inventory control
  • Warehouse operations

Online Course Info

You can find the associate's degree program online as a complete distance-education experience. Schools offer courses online similar to those provided by traditional programs. Your school may offer the online degree in an accelerated format. Most online associate's degrees are designed for working professionals seeking advancement and researching your selected program's accreditation is important to ensure you receive a solid education.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Validating your skills can make the difference in a competitive market and pursuing the appropriate certification can boost your marketability. Several organizations confer credentials for the distribution, transportation and supply-chain management sectors. The type of certification you pursue will rely on your career goals and employment (public or government sector). For example, the American Society of Transportation and Logistics confers a number of certifications, including the Distinguished Logistics Professional and the Certification in Transportation and Logistics. Some certifications are only available to candidates who complete higher education, so this may be a factor in your education research.

Bachelor's in Distribution Management

The bachelor's degree offers a deeper understanding of the logistics, transportation and distribution field. Programs offer an education that focuses on the technical, security and analytical components of distribution services. Universities offer distribution management programs under a number of colleges, including business, technology or marketing, which offers the opportunity to specialize. The bachelor's degree will prepare you for entry-level opportunities that lead to careers in management. You may need to achieve specific certifications prior to acceptance into a program.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Employers are looking for candidates with higher education for management opportunities
  • Some programs offer courses in logistical technology, which can boost employment prospects
  • Multiple areas of specialization provide a customizable and relevant learning experience

Cons

  • Salaries are comparable for associate's and bachelor's degree holders for some positions (logisticians earned $75,000 vs. wholesale and manufacturing sales representative of technical and scientific products who earned $86,000)
  • Some positions, such as high-level purchasing manager, may require a master's degree
  • Pursuing certification to increase competitiveness will extend your training time

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree combines around 120 credits of general, core and elective coursework to provide a tailored education experience. You may be required to participate in an internship in addition to capstone or collaborative projects that provide practical experience. You will learn to manage distribution centers or warehouses through courses in distribution security and risk analysis, distribution pricing, purchasing and global logistics, cost analysis, industrial supervision, quality assurance and management accounting.

Online Course Info

Some colleges offer an online distribution management bachelor's degree. Programs with articulation agreements with schools that grant associate's degrees may transfer a number of credits. You may find additional concentration areas, such as pharmaceutical sales or aviation flight technology, through a distance-education program. Schools structure online learning programs similarly to traditional programs and tailor the experience to meet the needs of working professionals.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Gaining as much experience as you can is essential to securing employment opportunities. Capstone projects and internships will provide chances to apply your knowledge in a real setting. As with the associate's degree, pursuing the appropriate certifications will enhance your marketability through the validation of your skills.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Operations Management / Logistics and Transportation concentration
      • BS in Operations Management
      • BS in Business Studies - Small Business Mgt
      • BS in Business Admin - Small Business Mgt
      • BS in Operations Management / Project Management concentration
      • BS in Business Studies - Business Adminis
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Supply Chain Management
      • B.A. - Business Admin
      • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis
      • B.A. - Service Management
      • BA/Service Management - Restaurant Enterprise Management
      • BA/Service Management - Mass-Market Retail Enterprise Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BSBA - Supply Chain Management and Logistics
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BBA: Project Management
      • BSBA - Investment
      • Bachelor: Accounting
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Business Admin - Logistics/Supply Chain Management
      • BS - Business Administration - Management
      • Bachelor: Project Management
      • BS - Business Administration - Project Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Business Development
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Management
      • BS - Organizational Leadership
      • BS - Project Management
      • Undergraduate Specialization - Small Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • BS in Applied Management
      • BS in Business Admin.
      • BS in Entrepreneurial Studies
      • Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Analytics
  • Campus and Online Programs
    7. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
      • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Management - No Specialization
      • B.S. Business Administration - No Specialization
      • B.S. General Studies - Business
      • B.S. General Studies - Entrepreneurship
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Business Management: Business Admin Concentration
      • B.S. - Business Management With No Concentration
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Applied Science in Management and Leadership
      • Bachelor of Science in Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Business - General Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business

Featured Schools

Southern New Hampshire University

  • BS in Operations Management / Logistics and Transportation concentration
  • BS in Operations Management
  • BS in Business Studies - Small Business Mgt

What is your highest level of education?

Ashford University

  • B.A. - Supply Chain Management
  • B.A. - Business Admin
  • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis

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Kaplan University

  • BSBA - Supply Chain Management and Logistics
  • Bachelor of Business Admin
  • BBA: Project Management

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Colorado Technical University

  • Bachelor: Business Admin - Logistics/Supply Chain Management
  • BS - Business Administration - Management
  • Bachelor: Project Management

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Business Management
  • BS - Organizational Leadership
  • BS - Project Management

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Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
  • BS in Applied Management
  • BS in Business Admin.

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Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Music Business
  • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • B.S. Management - No Specialization
  • B.S. Business Administration - No Specialization
  • B.S. General Studies - Business

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