11 reasons to consider a career in supply chain management

December 22, 2021

Not many people grow up wanting to work in supply chain management (SCM). But you could say the same thing for most other jobs not involving the sports or entertainment industries.

Yet, as we get older and begin to consider career advice and potential career opportunities, we might start to think about supply chain roles as we learn more about the world around us. It's also something we might look at if we have many years of experience and are considering a career change. One of the beautiful things about supply chains is that they're everywhere.

Here's everything you need to know about working in SCM and 11 reasons to consider a career in this field.

What skills do I need to work in the supply chain industry?

It depends on the role. The great thing is that supply chain roles demand a diverse range of skill sets, so the chances are you already have some skills that would help you be a success.

Good skills to have if you want to work in a supply chain management role include:

  • Inquisitiveness
  • The ability to seek out and identify trends in data
  • Forecasting based on data
  • Problem-solving skills, with the ability to be pragmatic and think on your feet
  • Change management, especially in roles where you'll be managing in all directions

On top of these skills, a commitment to continuing professional development (CPD) is also vital. The global supply chain landscape is changing by the minute, so your skills and knowledge must remain sharp, too.

What qualifications do I need to get supply chain jobs?

Again, it depends.

Most recruiters within businesses looking for supply chain management professionals will seek out candidates with a bachelor's degree or whatever the local equivalent is where you went to college or university. Some roles specify that you need a degree in a logistics or supply chain-related field. Others may look for graduates in general, but if you've completed a degree across a broader range of topics with modules related to supply chains and inventory management, your application may benefit.

At the same time, there are many globally recognised bodies, like the Institute of Supply Chain Management, where you can gain qualifications without going to university. Such qualifications, many of which are exclusively online programs, can be beneficial if you're looking to change careers and move into supply chain. In addition, if you're looking at moving into a supply chain role with your current employer, they may even run such qualifications themselves or help you attain them.

What opportunities are there to gain work experience?

You have a handful of options, depending on your situation:

  • If you're studying supply chain qualifications or are at college or university and considering a supply chain career, look for an internship. You will find internships on all the leading global jobs websites and LinkedIn, or you may write to specific companies asking if they offer such opportunities. If you're studying a particular supply chain qualification, your education provider may provide a pathway to internships or work experience, too.
  • Short-term internships may be available if you're considering a career change, although these may be difficult to organise if you're still working elsewhere.
  • If you're looking at moving roles with your current employer to work in supply chain, ask them about opportunities to try out different business areas and discuss your interests. Many employers even offer job swaps and similar initiatives to help employees explore career development opportunities.

11 reasons you should consider a career in supply chain management

Now we have some background to SCM, let's look at the reasons why you should consider this field for your full-time career.

1. You can choose your industry.

"Supply chain" is often regarded as an industry in itself. While that is true to some extent, there's a difference between working in supply chain and working within a supply chain in a specific industry.

The great thing is, you'll have an enormous choice of how you want to approach your career.

Supply chains are everywhere and in almost every industry. For example, say you're passionate about tech or fashion but have no interest in product development, marketing or sales. A job in supply chain can give you a vital role in ensuring others who love those products get what they need when they need them.

You'll be able to explore B2B supply chain opportunities as well as B2C ones too.

2. Diversity of supply chain roles

Deciding you want to work in supply chain management is just the start. Supply chains have many moving parts, which means there are many different roles available.

When you work in supply chain management, you could be:

  • A procurement manager, working alongside supply chain planners sourcing raw materials
  • Working in warehousing
  • An inventory management specialist
  • A distribution network planner
  • Involved in delivery fulfilment, either in terms of bulk freight or customer deliveries
  • Overseeing optimisation of the broader value chain

This list could go on and on!

3. In supply chain operations, every day is different.

Due to the nature of how supply chains work, no two days will ever be the same. This is true even of simple supply chains - there's even more diversity to be found in complex global supply chains.

As such, you'll never find yourself bored with the monotony of going to the office and doing the same thing every day between 9 and 5. Instead, there'll be new challenges, new ways of working, new suppliers to identify and audit, supplier relationships to manage, new people to meet, and different problems to solve.

Even when you have an optimised supply chain, you'll still need to have a hands-on approach to ensuring everything is working as it should.

4. Demand for supply chain professionals is growing.

As the global economy continues to grow and low- and middle-income countries continue to catch up to high-income nations in terms of consumption, so supply chains need to be more robust, too.

There is a greater demand for raw materials, warehousing demands are changing, and logistics management overall is becoming ever more demanding.

This also means that demand for highly-skilled supply chain professionals is growing. As such, there are more opportunities out there for people who want to work in supply chain operations. Furthermore, because businesses increasingly realise the impact talented supply chain professionals can have on their business as a whole, they're happy to pay the going rate for top talent. More on that shortly!

5. Jobs deliver tangible outcomes.

Many studies about job satisfaction highlight a lack of sense of achievement as a common reason behind low levels of job satisfaction.

One of the fantastic things about working in supply chain management is that you get to see your work pay off in the real world. For example, say you work in the automotive supply chain. Every time you see your employer's latest model driving down your street, that's because of the work you've put in.

6. You'll improve your soft skills and enjoy career development opportunities.

There are some industries where working in them does little more than ensure that you'll only ever do that job for the rest of your life.

In contrast, because you need such a diverse skill set to work in supply chain management, you'll be working on your soft skills and developing as an individual every day.

Not only will this enhance your internal career development opportunities, but it'll make you a more attractive candidate for recruiters if you ever decide to go and work elsewhere.

7. You'll gain experience across the business, diversifying your career path options.

While there are many different specific roles within supply chain operations, they all interlink and interact with each other, often daily.

For example, as a sourcing or procurement manager, you won't be directly responsible for warehousing and logistics management. Still, you'll acquire a working knowledge of this field as you go about your role. You'll also need to know about these aspects of the business as they'll inform the sourcing and procurement decisions you make. As such, you'll gain the knowledge and skills needed to manage different elements of your supply chain should you be promoted to a more senior role.

8. Supply chain and logistics jobs pay well.

This is something of a secret, probably because many people see supply chain and logistics management jobs as somewhat functional and unglamorous.

Whether financial returns are your prime motivation for seeking a specific career path or not, supply chain professionals are well rewarded. According to the Association for Supply Chain Management, the average starting salary for individuals entering supply chain management roles is $60,000.

With CPD opportunities and internal promotions, a supply chain role could easily pay you more than six figures for most of your career.

9. Opportunities to travel

If you're managing global supply chains, your job may give you a fantastic opportunity to see some of the world.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of tech in supply chain management into focus, there's still a need for in-person human interaction and input, be that with suppliers or internal elements of your supply chain.

10. Potential low barriers to entry

Whereas many high-paying fields require candidates to have post-graduate or industry-specific qualifications, you'll often be able to get started in a supply chain role with a standard bachelor's degree. Some companies may not even require that.

What's more, you'll often get the training and additional qualifications to make you excellent at your job from your employer. So they pay to make you better than reward you with promotions and salary increases. It's a win-win!

11. Supply chain and logistics management is increasingly tech-driven

If you're a millennial at the start of your working life, the chances are that you place a high value on how your role will use tech to help you be successful and reach your potential.

The great news is that supply chain and logistics management functions are becoming increasingly tech-driven. The beauty of this evolution is that, while things like automation do play a part, there will always be a need for highly skilled individuals to be involved in supply chain management.

For example, here at Serai Trade, our visibility and traceability solutions provide businesses with a wealth of data about their supply chains, but they still people to interpret that data, make decisions and communicate actions to their suppliers.

Start your supply chain career with Serai Trade.

Are you looking for your first role in supply chain management?

With Serai Trade, you have the opportunity to impact a significant number of global supply chains rather than working within one.

Check out our career opportunities here and learn more about taking the first steps into a career in supply chain management.