Supply Chain Inventory Manager Careers: Salary & Job Description

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Get the truth about a supply chain inventory manager's salary, education requirements and career prospects. Read the job description and see the pros and cons of becoming a supply chain inventory manager.
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Pros and Cons of a Supply Chain Inventory Manager Career

Inventory managers direct the flow of incoming and outgoing inventory transactions for businesses of all sizes and types. Read the following pros and cons to determine if this career is right for you.

Pros of Becoming a Supply Chain Inventory Manager
Better than average annual salary (Around $77,000 in May 2014 for all logisticians)*
Better than average job-growth (22% from 2012-2022)*
Positions are available in almost any industry**
Multiple professional certifications available*

Cons of Becoming a Supply Chain Inventory Manager
Can be very stressful, especially when under strict deadlines*
Requires solving complex problems quickly*
May need to work overtime if there are logistical problems*
Requires managing details and data for multiple projects at once***

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, ***O*Net Online

Essential Career Information

Job Description

Supply chain inventory managers oversee and control the movement of inventory held by commercial and industrial businesses in a variety of industries. The goal of most businesses is to have the right quantity of inventory at the right time, so supply chain inventory managers plan and monitor the flow of materials and goods through supply, distribution and retail. They may negotiate with suppliers, shipping firms, vendors and warehouse managers to get the best possible terms for contracts. They also collaborate with purchasers, buying specialists and others in the supply chain to make sure the right amount of product is purchased, and work quickly to resolve any logistics problems that might delay shipments. Since unwanted merchandise or slow-moving inventory can hurt profits, supply chain inventory managers analyze trends and forecast customer demand, planning ahead to minimize waste and maximize profits.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

Because effective inventory control and supply chain management can determine whether or not a company can compete in the marketplace, supply chain inventory managers and other logistics professionals will be in high demand in the coming years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an employment increase of 22% from 2012 to 2022 for all logisticians, spurred by the need for experts who can make logistical processes run smoothly and efficiently (www.bls.gov). The BLS explained that the federal government will likely employ logistics professionals in increasing numbers to manage people and supplies for military purposes.

In May 2014, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for logisticians was around $74,000. In 2012, the federal government employed 23% of logisticians, who were paid slightly better than average, earning a mean annual salary of $83,000 in 2014. The highest-paying industries for logisticians included pipeline transportation, natural gas distribution, petroleum and coal manufacturing and firms extracting oil and gas, with average yearly salaries over $107,000.

What are the Requirements?

Education

The desired qualifications for prospective supply chain inventory managers usually depend upon the size and employer. Although some employers might hire workers with an associate's degree and some logistics coursework, a bachelor's degree is often required, and some firms may prefer a master's degree. O*Net Online reported that 74% of logistics managers and 67% of supply chain managers held bachelor's degrees in 2011, while 17% of logistics managers and 26% of supply chain managers held master's degrees (www.onetonline.org). Management positions often require a combination of education and work experience in inventory management, purchasing or a related area. Degree programs in business administration, logistics, supply chain management, finance or a related field may prepare you for this field.

Career Skills

Besides having education and work experience, supply chain inventory managers must have the analytical thinking skills to process an incredible amount of information and work on several projects simultaneously. They also need the confidence to manage personnel and build a team, yet they must also be able to work independently and make important decisions quickly. Other skills and abilities may include:

  • Excellent written and oral communications skills
  • Ability to manage time and meet deadlines
  • Quantitative, statistical and mathematical aptitude
  • Computer-savvy and familiarity with industry software
  • Leadership and management skills
  • Strategic planning capabilities

Job Postings from Real Employers

While many employers listed a bachelor's degree as either a preference or a requirement, experience was just as important, with qualified candidates often needing 3-5 years of prior work in the industry and some supervisory experience. The following job postings were listed in May 2012:

  • An Illinois retail logistics firm wanted an inventory specialist, whose duties included publishing inventory reports, monitoring accuracy and using forecasting tools to make inventory recommendations.
  • A Texas chemicals shipping company advertised for an inventory control warehouse manager to oversee purchasing, restocking, just-in-time delivery and other logistics functions. Additionally, this position required completing paperwork and developing relationships with internal and external contacts. Experience with petroleum industry chemicals and a military background were both listed as beneficial.
  • A Texas-based men's clothing retailer sought an inventory control supervisor to analyze and review financial and accounting reports associated with inventory processes. The employer emphasized management of personnel and improving inventory control efficiency as key components of the position.
  • A Mississippi wholesale firm wanted an inventory management and control manager to plan and execute all inventory functions. Included among these functions were pricing, coordinating shipping and distribution, auditing and monitoring quality standards.

How to Stand out in the Field

Complete an Internship

While education can help you develop the technical knowledge needed for a supply chain inventory management career, hands-on experience in a real world setting is just as crucial. Undergraduate degree programs may include co-op work experiences or internships, and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals said these opportunities can help you test your classroom knowledge in a real-world environment. Plus, industry internships are a chance to show prospective employers your potential as an employee.

Become Professionally Certified

Several supply chain professional organizations offer certifications for knowledge, skills and demonstrated abilities in the industry. Most certifications require gaining membership in the organization, meeting education and experience requirements, passing an exam and paying fees. The Association for Operations Management has an APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) designation for those starting out who have acquired two years of experience (www.apics.org). The International Society of Logistics offers the SOLE Demonstrated Logistician program, with three levels of credentials awarded based on knowledge and job performance, which are measured through passing examinations (www.sole.org). Additional certifications are available through these and other professional organizations, including the American Society of Transportation and Logistics and the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals.

Other Careers to Consider

Industrial Engineer

If you would like to monitor and improve the efficiency of production processes before it moves down the supply chain, you may be interested in becoming an industrial engineering. By reviewing data and studying product manufacturing specifications, industrial engineers use mathematical modeling to figure out how to make manufacturing more efficient and safer. A bachelor's degree in industrial engineering is usually enough to gain an entry-level position. The BLS noted that industrial engineers employed by companies with government contracts may need to be professionally licensed. Although the BLS predicted employment growth of only six percent from 2010 and 2020, it noted that industrial engineers can be utilized in a variety of industries because they help cut costs. In May 2011, the BLS reported that industrial engineers earned just over $77,000.

Operations Research Analyst

If you would like apply your mathematical and analytical skills to solving a wide range of workplace problems, you could consider working as an operations research analyst. These professional problem-solvers, often working as part of a team, study all aspects of a business problem by gathering data and analyzing the effects of individual components on the whole situation. After weighing alternatives, they make recommendations toward a workable solution.

A 4-year degree is often enough to get started, but the BLS states that a master's degree will provide better career prospects. O*Net Online reported that 56% of operations research analysts held a master's degree in 2011, while just 30% held only a bachelor's degree. The BLS estimated employment growth at 15% through 2020, with a portion of the demand spurred by the needs of the government and military operations. In May 2011, the BLS reported a median annual salary of around $72,000.

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What is your highest level of education?

Saint John's University

  • Master of Business Administration: Interdisciplinary Business

What is your highest level of education?

Keiser University

  • Master of Business Administration - Management (Spanish)
  • Bachelor of Arts - Business Administration with a concentration in Transportation and Logistics
  • Associate of Arts - Accounting
  • Grad Business Certificate - Management and Leadership

What is your highest level of education?

Northcentral University

  • Doctor of Business Admin - General Business
  • Doctor of Business Admin - Management
  • Master of Business Admin - General Business
  • MBA - Management

What is your highest level of education?

American InterContinental University

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  • Bachelor of Business Admin: Management
  • Associate of Arts in Business Administration

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Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Management
  • BS - Business Management
  • Undergraduate Certificate - Project Management

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado Technical University

  • Doctor of Management (DM) - General Concentration (Executive Format)
  • MBA: Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Bachelor: Business Admin - Logistics/Supply Chain Management
  • Associate of Science in Business Administration

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Full Sail University

  • M.S. - Internet Marketing
  • M.S. - Entertainment Business
  • B.S. - Music Business
  • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media

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