Top companies now understand that they can drive growth with the supply chain. What was once seen primarily as a field to mitigate risk is quickly becoming one of the key ways to increase revenue.
This is the focus of new research conducted by J. Paul Dittmann at the Haslam College of Business. In a whitepaper detailing how companies can drive shareholder value with the supply chain, Dittmann demonstrates that when companies are trapped in an outmoded view of the supply chain, viewing it as “trucks, pallets, and warehouses,” they fail to take advantage of supply chain excellence. Skilled supply chain managers who think strategically see that end-to-end supply chain planning generates economic profit by delivering returns above the cost of capital invested. Dittman says, “Generating economic profit should be the prime goal of all firms.” Supply chain managers who can do this—offer tangible value to a company—are in high demand.
To take advantage of end-to-end supply chain, supply chain managers need a comprehensive and current mastery of the industry. They must understand the global ecosystems in which supply chains exist, the potential technology has to continue disrupting the supply chain and how to turn that disruption into opportunity. A master’s in supply chain management from a top program positions candidates for leadership roles in supply chain excellence.
Salary range for supply chain managers
The average salary range for supply chain managers, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $44,440 to $119,950, with most supply chain managers earning $74,600, annually. PayScale’s numbers suggest slightly higher supply chain manager salaries, with respondents averaging $81,426 a year. However, PayScale data includes base salary, bonuses, commission and profit sharing, which explains the variance. According to PayScale, entry level supply chain manager salaries typically start off earning $58,649 per year. The starting salary for MSSCM graduates, though, is $83,066.
It’s important to understand the impact education has on earning potential. As the supply chain evolves, companies are increasingly looking for supply chain managers with a master’s degree. Shay Scott, Executive Director of Supply Chain Operations Programs and Executive Director of the Global Supply Chain Institute, explains that the future of supply chain is in transformation. “There’s certainly increasing complexity in supply chains,” he says. “Everyone is saying, ‘Maybe things are a little too complex.’” And companies understand that, according to Scott, “we’re entering an age of the supply chain as a primary means of competitive advantage. In short, the future of supply chain is all about driving value for companies and consumers. As a supply chain manager, you need analytical, relational, strategic and technical skills that will evolve with the industry.
By equipping you with both hard and soft skills, a master’s degree boosts your earning potential and helps advance your career. Supply chain managers with a master’s earn $92,000 annually—more than $10,000 above the national average. Additionally, operations management professionals, who oversee supply chain functions from purchasing to personnel, earn a median annual salary of $99,310. A master’s in logistics and supply or supply chain management prepares you for leadership roles. PayScale highlights that the top three functions for employees with a master’s in supply chain management or logistics are business unit managers, CEOs and COOs. In these roles, employees earn upwards of $129,000 each year.
Education needed to become a supply chain manager
While some companies hire logisticians with an associate’s degree, most companies (according to both BLS and PayScale) require at least a bachelor’s degree. Shay Scott notes that as the potential for the supply chain to drive value increases so does the complexity. Today, the supply chain requires an intricate knowledge of systems, technologies and practices across teams. As big data, technology and crowdsourcing continue to disrupt industries, a supply chain manager’s purview is constantly evolving.
The best programs for becoming a supply chain manager are comprehensive and forward-thinking; they understand employers need candidates who are prepared to address supply chain complexity and opportunity. Brian Hamilton, a fulfillment senior manager at Dell, looks for hires who are recognized subject matter experts. Starting your job as a subject matter expert means you’re ready to add value to your organization on day one.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business offers one of the oldest, most well-respected and highly ranked supply chain management programs in the country for both undergraduates and graduate students. To get a supply chain management job directly out of college, Haslam advises students get internship experience and should major in supply chain management, logistics, transportation and industrial engineering. If you did not major in supply chain management or a related field, or if you are looking to take your career to the next level, then you will need a master’s in supply chain management. Entrants into Haslam’s graduate business programs, for example, are split between business majors (41 percent) and other majors (59 percent).
The time it takes to get a supply chain management degree will depend on your course of study. Undergraduate degrees typically take four years, and traditional MBAs usually require two years to complete—if you attend full-time. Recognizing the need for flexibility, and the difficulty for working students to leave their current jobs, many top schools also now offer online master’s programs. Haslam’s Master of Science in Supply Chain Management (MSSCM) is available online and can be completed either full-time, in 18 months, or part-time, over 24 months.
While the requirements for working in supply chain management are specific, flexible options exist to meet those requirements. The education you decide to pursue depends on your background and career goals.
Job outlook for supply chain managers
A degree in supply chain management prepares you to work in every industry. From 2016 to 2026, BLS predicts 7 percent job growth for supply chain managers. This growth is being driven by an increasingly global economy where companies need to increase their profitability, identify areas for improvement, move products efficiently, find sustainable solutions and solve problems to remain competitive.
Recently, Gap Inc. announced they would be splitting off from Old Navy, forming two separate companies—which means two supply chains. This creates unanticipated risk, but if handled strategically it will—as both companies hope—create the potential for revenue growth. Supply chain managers at both companies will need to facilitate new relationships with suppliers, manufacturers and logistics providers. In one recent example of a chain management breakdown, KFC changed logistics providers and had to temporarily close 900 stores in the U.K. because of a chicken shortage. To realize growth from this split, Gap Inc. and the newly formed NewCo need supply chain managers who can anticipate challenges rather than respond to them.
Though the supply chain originated as an operational function, smart companies are now viewing the supply chain holistically, as both operational and strategic. As J. Paul Dittmann explains, every industry benefits from supply chain managers who act not only to mitigate risk and reduce costs, but who act as total business leaders, providing growth solutions.
This move to understanding supply chain managers as total business leaders is reflected in PayScale’s job data for employees with a master’s in supply chain management. Financial managers are one of the top three job functions for graduates with a supply chain master’s degree. According to BLS, financial manager roles—roles focused across industries on risk management and growth strategies—are projected to grow 19 percent by 2026. The future of supply chain management is forward-thinking and focused on driving value.
Best programs for becoming a supply chain manager
With such a promising job outlook, many people are wondering, what are the best programs from becoming a supply chain manager? When deciding on a logistics and supply chain management program, you want to consider the following:
1. Rankings: Although rankings are not always the be-all and end-all, they do offer insight into a supply chain management program and serve as a strong proxy for that program’s reputation. Rankings let you know how your program compares to others, and they let you know what companies, industry experts and other students think of your school.
To get a sense of the most respected supply chain programs, you want to consult rankings from trusted sources. Below are three of the most credible ranking reports, along with an explanation of who the publisher is, why their opinion matters and what makes their rankings unique:
- US News & World Report
Who they are: Since the 1980s, US News & World Report has offered rankings of the best schools.
Why their opinion matters: US News & World Report is a go-to source on rankings for everything from undergraduate degrees, to the best hotels, to the best hospitals.
* Differentiators: Their rankings, because they are so comprehensive, offer specific lists that provide granular detail on smaller programs within bigger contexts. For example, the Stanford Graduate School of Business is the top ranked MBA in the country, but when it comes to supply chain management, though both programs are top 10, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business outranks Stanford GSB.
- Gartner Who they are: As the leading research and advisory company, Gartner provides businesses with advice and tools to grow and improve. Why their opinion matters: Gartner is highly respected across every industry, and their methodology specifically looks at program scope, industry value and program size. * Differentiators: Gartner not only ranks programs, but they also provide insight into industry trends. For example, the most recent rankings show the average supply chain management salary for MSSCM grads rose from $79,232 in 2016 to $83,066 in 2018—an increase of nearly $4,000 in just two years.
- The Economist Who they are: The Economist is one of the most respected sources for business news. Why their opinion matters: The Economist offers not only a respected perspective, but a global one; their rankings are international. * Differentiators: Sub-rankings within The Economist’s overall rankings paint a detailed and nuanced view of each program. They include categories such as quality of faculty, percentage of women enrolled, career development and student assessments of the courses, faculty and facilities.
2. Comprehensive curriculum: Look for programs offering a comprehensive curriculum that will prepare you to add value to your organization. The fundamentals of a strong supply chain background are:
- Supply chain concepts: delivering impactful results with the supply chain
- Supply chain functions: the knowledge of planning, sourcing, manufacturing and logistics to support overall supply chain concepts
- Supply chain enablers: employing critical levers such as technology and international trade to benefit the supply chain. You also want to consider programs that include a capstone project. Capstone projects give you real-world experience solving problems like inventory management or streamlining new technologies.
3. Faculty: The best supply chain programs are taught by faculty who are industry experts and passionate teachers. To get a sense of a program’s faculty, you can do the following four things:
- Consult student ratings—like those provided by The Economist.
- Familiarize yourself with faculty publications. The SCM Journal List ranks faculty output to empirical journals. You can also search program websites for whitepapers to see what the faculty are contributing to industry standards and thought leadership.
- Explore the faculty pages on a program’s website and check-out the faculty’s CVs. In addition to publications, how else are the faculty engaged in the industry? Where did they study? Do they have real-world experience? Are they sought after for their expert opinions?
- Follow schools you’re interested in on social media. By doing this, you’ll gain valuable insights and stay up-to-date on the latest industry news. When Amazon announced its plans to move into medical supplies, Randy V. Bradley, assistant professor at Haslam, was one of the first to respond with an article for Bloomberg Law, which Haslam then tweeted out.
4. Corporate partners: Corporate partnerships can offer students a chance to learn from immersive real-world situations and also provide networking opportunities. These partnerships often act as a talent pipeline, supplying companies with new hires, and placing graduates in competitive jobs. In 2016, Haslam’s corporate partners Amazon, Dell, Nissan and Eastman hired multiple Haslam graduates for open positions.
5. Industry leadership: The best supply chain management programs are deeply engaged with the industry. The Global Supply Chain Institute (GSCI) at Haslam was created to serve as a global hub for supply chain research and development. Through the GSCI, Haslam engages corporate partners and hosts events like the Supply Chain Forum, a bi-annual conference that brings together industry leaders, managers, faculty experts and students.
6. Your goals and your schedule: Any program you consider must align with your goals and fit your schedule. If it does not make sense to leave your current job or relocate, look for well-respected schools that offer an online master’s in supply chain management.
Consider an online MSSCM at Haslam
Haslam offers one of the most respected supply chain management programs in the country, and now their Master of Science in Supply Chain Management is available online. If you want to increase your skills, expand your knowledge and earn more with a master’s degree, the online MSSCM gives you the flexibility to join the top-ranked Haslam College of Business, renowned for its cutting-edge curriculum, leading faculty, top corporate partners and decades of industry leadership.