The Importance of Supply Chain Jobs during and after COVID-19

A group of men in warehouse. All three men are wearing masks.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted something that is often underrated: the importance of supply chains. As the virus spread and outbreaks shut down different regions, the global supply chains that supply US consumers with basic goods were catastrophically affected. Rapid shifts in consumer demand led to panic buying and shortages that logistics managers struggled to keep up with.

Through the pandemic, the importance of the supply chain manager was brought to the forefront of the country’s attention. In 2020, supply chain managers, supply chain professionals, and logisticians were called into service, not just for their companies, but also for the good of the economy at large. If there was ever any doubt about the vital role that supply chain management played in our economy and our everyday lives, that doubt has now been erased.

The demand for professionals with a supply chain management degree is not likely to diminish after COVID-19 is under control. Ecommerce sales had been steadily increasing as a share of retail before the pandemic, and online sales took a big leap in the first half of 2020, increasing by more than 30% over the same period in 2019. Some supply chain elements may be onshored to provide insurance against future shocks, but global, interconnected commerce and production are here to stay.

As eCommerce grows and the country deals with the pandemic’s rippling effects, the supply chain manager is one of the most promising career paths of the 2020s. If you are considering an advanced degree to boost your career, a master’s degree program in supply chain management will give you the skills and knowledge you will need to qualify for in-demand supply chain jobs.

Types of jobs in supply chain management

Supply chain professionals work in nearly every industry. Career opportunities with a supply chain management degree range from healthcare to tech to consumer products. A supply chain career could lead to a career as a supply chain director, logistician, purchasing manager, or inventory manager.

For a supply chain management professional who wants to chart their own course, a career as a supply chain consultant may be appealing. Consultants help client companies put in place efficient and cost-effective supply chain management processes. Supply chain consultants may work for a consulting company or run their own business. You should strongly consider this career if you have an entrepreneurial mindset.

The job website Monster.com reported that the top three industries for supply chain and logistics jobs are manufacturing, government, and technical services. While many of the positions in logistics require only a bachelor’s degree or a high school diploma, an advanced degree opens up career opportunities on a supply chain management track.

As the supply chain’s importance has become more apparent in recent years, more companies have elevated supply chain management to the C-suite. The career path for supply chain professionals can include chief supply chain officer (CSCO) and even CFO or CEO.

How to get started in supply chain management

Supply chain management professionals are the people who manage the flow of products from manufacturing through delivery to the end customer. A supply chain manager might be responsible for one segment of the supply chain or oversee a whole sector, a complete supply chain, or multiple supply chains.

It’s common for supply chain professionals to work on sourcing raw materials, working with factories, managing transportation and logistics, and overseeing fulfillment and delivery. Supply chain management involves organizing all the elements of the supply chain, ensuring that materials and products are delivered to the right place, at the right time, in the right amounts. The supply chain role can include budget and purchasing management. A supply chain analyst might be tasked with determining optimal inventory levels or predicting future demand.

Suppose you would like to move into a management or VP supply chain role or even end up in the C-suite. In that case, two things will help you get ahead: work experience and an advanced degree such as the MS in Supply Chain Management Online offered by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. These options are an excellent place for working professionals to start. The online master’s program will allow you to keep working and adding to your professional experience while you earn your degree. The online format offers the flexibility to complete your coursework while balancing the demands of work and family life.

Not only will you start an exciting supply chain career, but you will also increase your lifetime earnings. Indeed found that the average salary for supply chain managers in 2020 is more than $80,000. The site listed jobs for supply chain management professionals with wages of up to $150,000. With an advanced degree, you have the opportunity to become a supply chain manager and command a salary in the upper tiers of the supply chain management salary range.

Necessary skills for roles in supply chain management

Are you cut out to be a supply chain manager? You’ll need a specific set of skills to become this type of supply chain executive. Fortunately, you can hone these supply chain skills through training.

Here are some of the most critical skills to become a logistician or supply chain manager:

  • Decision-making. One of the biggest challenges every supply chain manager faces is the need to adapt to changing circumstances quickly. The ability to act decisively under pressure is essential for any supply chain leader.
  • Attention to detail. Whether you work in operations management, inventory management, procurement, or logistics, you must manage complexity. A good supply chain manager pays attention to details that others might miss.
  • Leadership. A supply chain analyst, like a supply chain manager, is a leader. As a supply chain professional in a management position, you’ll need to manage your team for maximum productivity and work optimally with other teams. Your leadership skills will also assist you in managing outside vendors who are part of the supply chain.
  • Financial literacy. The physical and financial aspects of supply chain management can’t be separated. You’ll need to understand financial statements and ensure that your supply chain is fiscally viable.
  • Cultural competency. Most supply chains cross national borders and may span several countries. While you don’t need to learn a new language, cultural understanding will help you build strong relationships with overseas suppliers.

Top supply chain management companies to work for

With an advanced supply chain management degree, you’ll be able to choose from among the best supply chain companies. Among the top companies for supply chain management are large global brands like Adidas, Coca-Cola, Walmart, Johnson & Johnson, Intel, and Unilever. You can pursue a career in global supply chain management at any of these and many other Fortune 500 companies.

With a supply chain management major, you can also chart the direction of your supply chain management career. You may choose to focus on sustainable supply chain management, an area becoming increasingly more important to environmentally conscious consumers and companies.

Whatever supply chain management career path you choose, the Master of Science in Supply Chain Management Online from the top-ranked University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will give you the skills and credentials you need to become a supply chain leader.

Learn more about Haslam’s MS SCM - Online.