Looking for some good economic news? How about this: hiring for jobs in logistics and the supply chain is taking off. According to Wanted Analytics, over 49,000 supply chain jobs were posted online in the last three months alone, up 24 percent from the same period last year.
These positions have become increasingly strategic. Businesses are now turning to their supply chain teams to slash costs and improve overall business performance.
“Years ago, the supply chain was considered a cost. Now, it’s seen as an area of savings. [Supply chain professionals] can directly impact the bottom line,” says Rhoda Isaacs, President of logistics recruiting firm R.I. James.
In this article, I look at which jobs are in high demand, and what skills are necessary for success in those roles.
Five Hot Supply Chain Jobs
Based on conversations with executive recruiters, academics and industry professionals, here are five supply chain jobs that are in high demand today.
1. Demand Planning Analyst
What they do: Match product demand with appropriate inventory levels.
Why it’s important: Carrying too much or too little inventory can have dire consequences on a company’s bottom line. Demand Planning Analysts prevent this from happening.
Skills: This role is heavy on quantitative analysis, so an academic background in mathematics is useful. Experience using enterprise resource planning (ERP) software such as SAP or Oracle is also beneficial. Many individuals in these roles have advanced certifications, such as becoming a Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) through APICS or a Six Sigma Black Belt.
2. Procurement Manager
What they do: Manage (in)direct sourcing, negotiate with suppliers and keep tabs on supplier performance.
Why it’s important: A successful supply chain requires inventory flexibility and redundancy while keeping costs down. Ensuring this is possible falls on the shoulders of the Procurement Manager.
Skills: These professionals require both an analytical rigor and excellent negotiation skills. For this reason, a background in supply chain operations, statistics, marketing and sales are all beneficial. While the ISM’s Certified Purchasing Manager (C.P.M.) accreditation is available via re-certification only, there are other options, such as the ISM’s Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) or the Senior Professional in Supply Management (SPSM) certification through Next Level Purchasing.
3. Distribution Center (DC) Supervisor
What they do: DC supervisors manage a team of warehouse workers and logistics professionals to ensure that the DC is organized and efficient.
Why it’s important: The DC is a crucial convergence point for a business’ product as it nears customers. The DC Supervisor keeps logistics moving smoothly
Skills: While advanced certifications aren’t necessary for career success, an understanding of both supply chain principals and technologies is beneficial. Those who excel in these positions aren’t afraid to take a hard-stance to achieve results, nor get their hands dirty when needed. Good work in this role can lead to lucrative career paths, as companies look for intelligent young executives with “floor-level” experience.
4. Supply Chain Consultant
What they do: These consultants work with multiple clients on specific supply chain problems.
Skills: These positions are great for recent business, economics, engineering or supply chain undergraduates, or newly-minted MBAs. While the work is more demanding than other entry-level supply chain positions, the experience gained in these roles can open the door to management positions overseeing supply chains, positions within supply chain management software companies or at independent consulting firms.
5. 3PL Business Development Manager
What they do: Business Developers at 3PLs drive new business and manage customer relationships.
Why it’s important: As businesses look to outsource their logistics, 3PLs are continually gaining importance. Acquiring new business and managing customer communication is an essential role in these operations.
Skills: Advanced certifications aren’t required for success in this role, but the individual with experience and a basic knowledge of core supply chain concepts can better relate to the 3PL’s customers. Solid experience in sales or account management is helpful, too.
Three Skills in High Demand Throughout Logistics
In addition to these jobs, I discovered three skills in high-demand throughout the supply chain, regardless of the role:
- Supply Chain Fundamentals – Joel Sutherland, Managing Director of the University of San Diego Supply Chain Management Institute, says that industry professionals are asking universities to instruct on the downstream effects of actions within the supply chain. “Through teaching an end-to-end perspective, students have a better understanding of the total delivered cost and the optimized solution,” explains Sutherland. This includes a greater focus on the subjects of finance and accounting and general business administration.
- Analytical Thinking and Quantitative Acumen – Professionals with an exceptional knowledge of engineering, statistics and finance are in high demand. Michael Hasler, Associate Director of the University of Texas Supply Chain Management Department, says that UT has responded with new coursework and degree programs, such as its certificate in Supply and Logistics Optimization and an upcoming Masters in Business Analytics.
- Written and Verbal Communication – Excellent communication skills are especially important for successful supply chain professionals. Jeff Karrenbauer, CEO of software and consulting company Insight, describes its importance as the following: “If you’re speaking in front of an executive and you nail your supply chain presentation–that’s the fastest way to be remembered in this business.”
Multiple Paths to Career Success
The supply chain as a whole is only as good as its components, and those components are only as strong as each field’s professionals. Continually broadening one’s knowledge is crucial to success.
“It’s hard for a single person to be an expert at the advanced aspects of procurement, inventory management, and logistics,” says Charles Dominick, CEO of purchasing certification provider Next Level Purchasing. “There’s room for experts for each field, as competency in each requires advanced specialization.”
Additionally, there’s room at the top of many businesses for professionals with expert insight into the entire supply chain. According to Art van Bodegraven, President of Van Bodegraven Associates, the marketplace is demanding executives that can take a holistic view. “These professionals have to have an understanding–if not mastery–of all elements of supply chain execution and planning,” says van Bodegraven.
What jobs and skills are you seeing in high demand in the supply chain? Please leave a note in the comments with your thoughts.