Supply chains play a crucial role in keeping goods moving and economies running. For example, the transportation supply chain is the backbone of Canada’s international trade and has contributed to more than half the value of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) every year since 1992. With increasing trade volumes in Canada and a growing emphasis on supply chain digitalization, the demand for skilled supply chain management professionals is expected to remain strong.
If you’re planning to begin a career in supply chain management, you’re likely to find a job with competitive pay and a strong work-life balance. According to a report by the Association for Supply Chain Management, the salaries of supply chain managers across Canada are up from 2020, and in 2022, they ranged from $66,925 to $123,480. Most supply chain management professionals work a maximum of 45 hours per week and enjoy at least three weeks of paid time off, which makes them eager to stay in the industry for the next five years.
Sounds promising, right?
To help you decide whether to pursue a career in supply chain management, here’s a look at what the job of a supply chain management professional entails. In this article, you’ll learn about the main responsibilities of supply chain management professionals in a range of roles, as well as the skills and education required to succeed in this profession. Let's dive in!
Overview of Supply Chain Management
Supply chain management refers to every step in the product life cycle, from extracting raw materials to delivering finished goods to consumers and everything in between: sales, operations planning, product manufacturing, logistics, risk management, customer support, business analytics, and more.
Roles and Responsibilities of a Supply Chain Management Professional
Although supply chain management professionals work in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, retail, healthcare, technology, and transportation, their work duties and responsibilities typically fall under seven main supply chain functions:
1. Planning and Forecasting
Supply chain professionals must accurately predict supply and demand trends to ensure the right products are available at the right time. They analyze historical data, market trends, and customer preferences to develop forecasts and create production schedules.
Some of the most common planning and forecasting job titles include:
- Demand Planner
- Supply Planner
- Inventory Analyst
- Production Scheduler
- Sales and Operations Planner
- Master Scheduler
2. Sourcing and Procurement
Identifying and selecting the best suppliers is a key responsibility for supply chain management professionals. They must evaluate suppliers based on factors such as quality, cost, and reliability, and negotiate contracts to ensure the best possible terms for their organization.
If you’re interested in the procurement and sourcing process in a company’s supply chain, here are some possible job titles for you:
- Procurement Manager
- Purchasing Agent/Buyer
- Category Manager
- Supplier Account Manager
- Strategic Sourcing Manager
- Contract Specialist
3. Production and Manufacturing
Professionals in this field oversee the production process, ensuring materials are available when needed and that products are manufactured according to quality standards. They also work closely with other departments to identify and resolve bottlenecks and inefficiencies related to the production and manufacturing process.
Job titles in this area of supply chain management are as follows:
- Production Manager
- Operations Manager
- Plant Manager
- Quality Control Manager
4. Logistics and Distribution
Specialists of this supply chain management niche are responsible for coordinating the transportation of goods from suppliers to manufacturers, warehouses, and ultimately, to the end customer. This includes selecting the most efficient and cost-effective transportation methods and working with logistics providers to ensure timely deliveries.
If you’re thinking of pursuing a supply chain management career in logistics and distribution, job titles of interest may include:
- Logistics Coordinator
- Transportation Coordinator
- Warehouse Manager
- Distribution Center Manager
- Freight Coordinator
- Customs Compliance Specialist
5. Inventory Management
Effective inventory management is crucial for maintaining optimal stock levels and reducing costs. Employees of this supply chain management process must track inventory levels, analyze demand patterns, and implement inventory control systems to minimize stockouts and overstock situations.
Job titles in inventory management include:
- Inventory Analyst
- Inventory Manager
- Inventory Control Specialist
- Materials Manager
- Demand Planner
6. Analytics and Technology
The main responsibilities of supply chain management professionals working in analytics and technology are typically evaluating and implementing warehouse management systems, transportation management systems, and supply chain visibility tools to streamline supply chain processes and reduce costs. Professionals in this niche also track key performance indicators (KPIs) related to supply chain performance, such as inventory turnover, delivery times, and order accuracy, and use this data to identify areas for improvement.
If working with data and software systems is of interest to you, consider pursuing one of the following positions:
- Data Analyst
- Business Intelligence Analyst
- Supply Chain Analyst
- Systems Analyst
- IT Manager
- Continuous Improvement Manager
7. Customer Service
Satisfied customers = a thriving business. Companies like Amazon employ thousands of customer-service associates to provide exceptional customer support. These supply chain management staff often work closely with sales, marketing, and customer support teams to address any issues related to product availability, delivery times, and order accuracy and meet (or even exceed) customer expectations.
Generally, these positions are entry-level, unskilled positions and training on the job is provided.
If you find the customer service rep role in supply chain management meaningful, with additional education and training, you may advance to job titles like:
- Customer Service Manager
- Order Fulfillment Manager
- Returns and Repairs Manager
- Sales Support Specialist
- Order Entry Specialist
- Customer Service Representative
Key Skills for a Successful Supply Chain Management Professional
Once you define your career niche in supply chain management, it’s crucial to identify what skills you should develop to: 1) land your first job in the industry and 2) access career advancement opportunities. Since today’s trade companies increasingly rely on efficient and effective supply chain management to remain competitive, this field offers ample opportunities to move upwards into roles with higher salaries and more responsibility.
To become a successful supply chain management professional, it’s important to obtain and constantly improve the following skills:
As a supply chain manager, you’ll need to be able to analyze data and identify patterns to make informed decisions. For this, you’ll need to use various analytical tools and software to optimize supply chain operations and improve efficiency.
Effective communication skills are essential for supply chain management professionals, as they need to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders daily. Once you start to work as a supply chain manager, you need to be able to clearly convey information, listen to feedback, and build strong relationships with suppliers, delivery people, and customers.
Supply chain professionals often face complex challenges and must find innovative solutions to address them. Once you assume your responsibilities as a supply chain manager, strong problem-solving skills can help you think critically, analyze situations, and make sound decisions under pressure.
Leadership and Collaboration Skills
If you want to succeed as a supply chain management professional, you should develop into a leader who can effectively motivate teams and collaborate with other supply chain departments. Additionally, having strong collaboration skills will help you manage conflicts and foster a positive, cooperative work environment.
The supply chain industry is constantly evolving, and your ability to adapt to changes in technology, market conditions, and customer demands will help you succeed as a supply chain professional. Your ability to quickly master new industry-specific software such as enterprise resource planning systems, transportation management systems, and warehouse management systems can add brownie points to your resume.
Career Path and Educational Requirements
If you explore job ads related to supply chain on Canada’s Job Bank, Indeed, or CareerBuilder, you’ll notice that many employers are seeking applicants with a diploma in supply chain management – and this is not surprising.
Earning a Supply Chain Management Professional Diploma demonstrates to HR managers that you have a comprehensive knowledge base, industry-specific skills, and hands-on experience to bring to the table.
How Sundance College Can Help You Become a Supply Chain Manager
With a wide range of responsibilities, such as planning, sourcing, production, logistics, and customer service, a career in supply chain management offers many opportunities for growth and development.
The Supply Chain Management Professional Diploma Program at Sundance College prepares students to excel in this dynamic and rewarding profession. The program is taught by industry-experienced instructors and combines theoretical knowledge with applied learning to produce job-ready graduates. The program also includes a 7-week practicum placement at a business or logistics firm to help students gain hands-on experience and smooth their transition into the supply chain field.
Additionally, all Sundance College students gain access to Career Services, networking opportunities, and strong support from our faculty and staff. We do everything we can to help our students reach their educational and career goals. If you’re interested in learning more about our Supply Chain Management Professional Diploma program, fill out our contact form, and our advisors will reach out to you.