Are you a big-picture thinker who also cares about the small details? Do you love the intersection of technical and administrative work? Do you enjoy fast-paced and challenging work environments? Have you been wondering, “What can I do with an industrial distribution degree?” If so, you might consider a career in supply chain management. According to APICS, the supply chain management field allows employees to deliver products and services from the beginning to the end of the supply chain. Supply chain managers assume a variety of roles on the job by engaging in the design, execution, control, and supervision of their delivery infrastructure, which may range from local to international logistics. Managers may manage either B2C or B2B supply chains, depending on the industry and organization.
If you are looking at a supply chain management career path, consider an industrial distribution degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Develop the business and technical skills you need to thrive in your chosen field and prepare to join a hardworking world with other supply chain professionals.
What is supply chain management?
The supply chain is a critical business function for most organizations. Supply chain management is the oversight of goods and services as they move between businesses and locations, from start to finish and everything in between.
An effective logistics management strategy is integral to boost client satisfaction, reduce overhead, and improve the financial position of most companies. A well-designed supply chain features savvy analytics, up-to-date technology, and collaboration at every step of the process.
Supply and distribution systems have become far more complex and digitized in recent years due to advances in technology. With the implementation of things like cloud-based shipping and tracking software, the industry is in need of qualified workers who know their way around modern tech. As a result, organizations are hiring more knowledgeable and ambitious supply chain management professionals to help their products move more efficiently and solve key breakdowns in the delivery journey.
How Supply Chains Have Been Affected by the Pandemic and What it Means for Job-Seekers
Just a few years ago, supply chains weren’t as frequently in the news as they are today. But between 2020 and now, logistics operations took a hit. Production slowed down, labor shortages ensued, and breakdowns in supply chains around the world were happening seemingly every day.
Now, industries are in a rebuilding phase. Slowly but surely, companies are mending their supply chains and getting them back on track — which is great thing for people interested in career supply chain management. Jobs are far more in-demand in the field than they’ve ever been, and with a degree conducive to supply chain management, you’ll learn all the skills you need to help restore these critical operations, make them more efficient, and organize them to be more resilient to disruptions for the future.
Supply chain digitization
According to a 2021 McKinsey business report, supply-chain digitization increases the need for digital skills, but only 1% of companies report having sufficient talent.
That leaves the door wide open for students well-versed in technology to make a positive impact in their chosen industry. Engineering and technical literacy are just a couple examples of learning outcomes in our BSID course that will help prepare students for the digitally transformed supply chains that are the norm today.
Is a Career in Supply Chain Management Right for You?
If you are an effective communicator, enjoy solving problems, can handle heavy workloads, and are a natural leader, you might be a better fit for a career in supply chain management than you previously thought. Jobs involve an ideal combination of managerial and technical skills in a fast-paced setting, making it a suitable choice for anyone who loves a challenging work environment.
In supply chain management roles, your main responsibilities may include encouraging collaboration between customer service and sales teams, maintaining inventory based on consumer demand, and creating and executing strategies and policies for logistics and distribution. Other tasks may include crafting, launching, and fixing production lines from the initial, raw product throughout the shipment process or fostering relationships with suppliers. Many managers also review employee schedules and find ways to improve warehouse and transportation productivity.
To effectively manage these responsibilities, you should understand risk management, customer relationship management, project management, and supply chain synchronization. You might also need to be skilled in international regulations, sustainability, transportation management, and the latest logistics technology applications, though this depends on the position. Managers must excel in interpersonal communication and critical thinking, making this an ideal field for anyone who welcomes a new challenge each day on the job and loves working in a collaborative environment.
Job Outlook and Salary Prospects for Careers in Supply Management
Supply chain managers work in a variety of industries, such as manufacturing, wholesale trade, state or federal government agencies, and health care services. But, what kinds of careers are available to students with or pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Distribution? Let’s run through a few examples of entry-level roles, mid-career opportunities, and the most in-demand supply chain management career opportunities today.
Entry Level Roles for Graduates or Students Pursuing an Industrial Distribution Degree
The supply chain industry offers lots of great entry-level opportunities for individuals who are interested and want to get their foot in the door. Here are a few examples of common entry-level positions in supply chain management:
Logistics coordinators are essential to every supply chain, helping get products into the hands of consumers as efficiently as possible. This often includes supervising the entirety of an organization’s supply chain, all the way through to the actual delivery of the goods or services.
Supply Chain Customer Support Representative
Customer service representatives in the supply chain industry act as a liaison between the customer and management and are an integral part of maintaining smooth supply chain operations.
Purchasing agents negotiate contracts with vendors and make decisions about which products an organization will buy — either to use or resell.
Managerial Roles for Mid-Career Professionals in Supply Chain Management
One of the great things about a supply chain management career is that there’s lots of room to grow and even more opportunities to level up within an organization. Here are a few managerial roles common in supply chain management:
Supply Chain Manager
Responsible for freight forwarding, customs clearance, liaising with warehouse managers, negotiating contracts and much more, supply chain managers hold it all together.
Procurement managers are the foremost contact person between suppliers and organizations. They also identify new and potential suppliers and coordinate and carry out all of the administrative work that goes along with that.
Supply Chain Director
A supply chain director is different from a supply chain manager in that a specialist oversees the entirety of day-to-day operations. Essentially, they make sure that the supply chain manager is doing their job and that things are running smoothly.
The Most In-Demand Jobs in Supply Chain Management Right Now
Finally, here are a few of the most in-demand jobs in the supply chain field right now:
Logistics are huge in supply chain management. Logisticians are the people responsible for keeping things moving, ensuring that deadlines are met and disruptions have minimal impact to supply chain operations. Given how the current state of world economic affairs has affected supply chains, logistics professionals are very much needed.
Supply Chain Engineer
Supply chains can’t operate optimally without proper algorithms and processes. Engineers in this field are the ones who make sure that things are being delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Supply Chain Analyst
Supply chains rely on a lot of different types of data, from sales to schedules to inventory. Data analysts can make the jobs of everyone else in the supply chain industry easier by discovering information and supporting decision-making.
It’s important to note that working in such a high-demand field could equal more steady work and a better paycheck. According to PayScale, the average salary for a supply chain manager is $81,358, though this figure can vary depending on the industry, region, experience required, and size of the organization. Experienced managers make around $193,000, while entry-level positions with less than five years of experience average around $65,000.
Employment projections are rising for jobs in supply chain management. For example, logistician jobs alone are expected to increase by 30% between 2020 and 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That is a considerable difference considering the average growth rate for other jobs is only 8%, per the BLS . Many organizations are looking to improve their supply chain strategies and want innovative new thinkers to join their teams. Individuals who have experience in logistical software and other technological tools often qualify for these jobs.
Can a BS in Industrial Distribution Prepare You for Supply Chain Management?
Supply chain professionals work in a variety of industries, such as manufacturing, wholesale trade, state or federal government agencies, and health care services. And many — if not all — managers have a Bachelor of Science degree in either systems engineering, business, supply chain management, industrial distribution, or a related field. A Bachelor of Science in industrial distribution is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for a career in supply chain management.
Our BS provides graduates with key insights into the joint world of engineering and business. And our online degree path offers all of that valuable training while also being more accessible — so you can get a jumpstart on your career path in the quickly growing and in-demand field of supply chain management on your own time.
Here are just a few things covered in our BS in industrial distribution curriculum:
- Business foundations
- Financial literacy
- Quantitative analysis
- Management processes
- Information Systems
- Business analytics
- Business communications, and more.
At the University of Alabama at Birmingham, you can choose from one of two concentrations: Industrial Distribution or Medical Equipment and Supplies Distribution. No matter which you choose, the track and learning outcomes can help you follow your dreams with a well-designed and comprehensive curriculum. If you want to advance in the supply chain management field, consider choosing a BS in Industrial Distribution.
Our fully online learning environment makes it possible to gain the knowledge, skills, and degree you need to succeed in your chosen field without sacrificing any current personal or professional obligations. To learn more about our curriculum or other program offerings, talk to an advisor today.