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Jobs in supply chain management

At a glance

  • A supply chain is a system that requires multiple roles to function in tandem, including manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, purchasing agents, operations managers and demand analysts.
  • Each position requires different educational backgrounds, while salary expectations depend on experience and location.
  • If you want to expand your business knowledge, learn more about online business degrees at University of Phoenix.

A supply chain is a system or network of manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and transportation suppliers that businesses use to source, create and deliver products to customers. Supply chains are essential to modern business logistics since they essentially get products where they need to be.

As businesses use more technologies and processes to create products, their supply chains become increasingly important and complex. Companies have subsequently started hiring professionals to manage their supply chains and ensure links coordinate with each other.

This growing need has resulted in higher demand for qualified business professionals to do the specialized work of supply chain management. And with a business degree, you can pursue one of many exciting supply chain management jobs.

Purchasing agent

As a purchasing agent, you’ll be responsible for negotiating, purchasing, managing and sometimes packaging goods and services for an organization. You can do this by ordering directly from a manufacturer or distributor, searching online or contacting local businesses to find the best deals on products or services.

Purchasing agents also manage the entire process of buying and warehousing goods. After placing an order, you’ll have to verify that your order arrives safely at its destination, is correct and accurate, and is stored appropriately. Some responsibilities are essentially universal, regardless of what industry you work in, including:

  • Negotiating contracts with vendors
  • Keeping records of purchases
  • Ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations
  • Overseeing inventory management
  • Recommending how best to price products

Other work responsibilities will vary depending on where you’re employed. For instance, a purchasing agent who works for a healthcare facility will likely have a different workday from one who works at an educational institution or retail establishment. You can also find this role in manufacturing, transportation and government.

Education requirements

To become a purchasing agent, you’ll generally need a bachelor’s degree and relevant experience in either procurement or the industry in which you’d like to work.

The education requirements for a purchasing agent vary based on the work environment. For example, if you want to work as a purchasing agent for a large manufacturing company, you may need a degree in business administration or a related discipline. 

Salary and job outlook

Purchasing agents, buyers and managers fall under the same salary and job outlook category, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The annual salary for purchasing agents ranged from $38,430 to $111,200 in May 2021, with factors like experience and industry greatly impacting compensation.

Though BLS projects an employment decline of 6% in this field between 2021 and 2031, it also expects roughly 47,400 new positions to open up each year.

Salary ranges are not specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website.

Operations manager

Operations managers help companies run efficiently. They’re responsible for organizing and maintaining a business and its internal processes. You can find work as an operations manager in many industries, ranging from manufacturing and retail to banking and airlines.

The duties of operations managers depend on their niche. Regardless of where you work, however, you must have a deep understanding of how departments function and interact with each other. Operations managers often have to make decisions that impact the entire company.

Education requirements

Many operations managers hold a bachelor’s degree in business, such as a Bachelor of Science in Business or a Bachelor of Science in Management, although it isn’t always essential.

For aspiring operations managers who do pursue a bachelor’s degree, the ideal curriculum will typically cover finance, marketing, accounting and organizational behavior. Courses may also discuss managerial procedures, such as organizational theory and leadership skills.

It may also be a good idea to take classes in areas outside of business, such as philosophy or the humanities, to develop a broader understanding of how businesses function within society.

Salary and job outlook

BLS projects demand for this role to increase 6% between 2021 and 2031. Operations managers can earn anywhere from less than $43,260 to more than $208,000 annually, depending on their specialty, location and level of experience.

Supply chain manager

A supply chain manager oversees, coordinates and executes the logistics of an organization’s supply chain. In this role, you must be familiar with your organization’s processes and how they intersect with other businesses.

Supply chain managers must work with many people within their organization to ensure all parties are on the same page regarding priorities and goals. They must also be able to adapt quickly as needs change and challenges arise.

The role of supply chain manager has grown in importance in recent years, due both to changes in business operations and increased volatility in the supply chain. For example, companies sometimes outsource labor and production and deal with issues such as transportation disruptions and raw material shortages that can impact supply chains.

Education requirements

According to BLS, supply chain managers are categorized as logisticians, and they typically need a bachelor’s degree in supply chain, business or a related field to work in supply chain management. An associate degree or industry experience may be sufficient for some roles, and industry certification is helpful as well.

Salary and job outlook

BLS projects demand for logisticians will grow 28% by 2031. In May 2021, logisticians earned between $45,160 and $122,390 annually, according to BLS.

Product manager

Product managers are responsible for creating, developing and managing a business’s products. They help determine customer needs and identify opportunities for the organization to fulfill those needs with its products and services. They oversee the implementation of a product from start to finish, including its ideation, testing, marketing and sales. They’re often responsible for various teams within their organization that handle different aspects of product development and commercialization.

Product managers can be found in virtually any industry that creates and sells goods and services. This can include physical products sold in stores, intangible goods (such as computer software) and specialized services provided by employees.

Education requirements

As with related careers, product managers typically need a bachelor’s degree in business or a closely related discipline. If you want to work as a product manager in a particular field, you may benefit from getting a related degree. For instance, if you plan to work for a company that develops computer programs or software solutions, you may choose to get a degree in IT or software engineering. In some cases, work experience or certification may provide enough skills and knowledge to obtain interviews without a degree.

Salary and job outlook

BLS provides information specifically for industrial production managers who work in manufacturing settings to produce physical goods, but not for product managers in general. Each year, industrial production managers earn from less than $64,150 to more than $170,470. BLS predicts that demand for this role will grow 3% between 2021 and 2031.

Demand analyst

Demand planning analysts are responsible for collecting and analyzing data to forecast customer demand for products and services. They use this information to help their companies determine how much of a certain product should be produced, how much it should cost and where to sell it.

Demand analysts work in various industries, including retail, healthcare, manufacturing and technology. Responsibilities vary by industry. For example, a demand analyst for a clothing retailer might need to assess which styles its customers prefer before placing an order with suppliers.

Education requirements

To pursue a career as a demand analyst, you will likely need a degree in business, sales, marketing, economics or a related field. The exact education requirements vary among organizations and industries.

Salary and job outlook

BLS provides salary and job outlook information for market research analysts, a role that is related to demand analysts. Market research analysts can earn less than $37,570 to more than $128,320 annually, though compensation can vary depending on niche and experience level. By 2031, BLS expects to see a 19% growth in demand for market research analysts.

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If you’re looking to take the first step toward expanding your business knowledge and skill set, University of Phoenix offers a variety of online degree options. These include:

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