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Supply chain management involves overseeing aspects of the supply chain. A supply chain is a network of interconnected businesses. Each business contributes one aspect of the chain, from production to the procurement of raw materials to the transportation of materials to the manufacturing process to the consumer market to the final act of consumption. The ultimate goal of supply chain management is to make this chain run efficiently and effectively while reducing costs and delivering customer satisfaction.
What a Supply Chain Management Degree Is
A supply chain management degree is a type of post-secondary degree awarded to students who have completed a college, university, or business school program that focuses on the management of supply chain activities.
Types of Supply Chain Management Degrees
There are three basic types of supply chain management degrees that can be earned from a college, university, or business school:
- Bachelor's Degree in Supply Chain Management - A bachelor's degree program with a specialization in supply chain management consists of general education courses in addition to courses that focus exclusively on logistics and supply chain management. Although accelerated and part-time programs are available, most bachelor's programs take approximately four years to complete.
- Master's Degree in Supply Chain Management - A master's degree or MBA degree program in supply chain management usually consists of general business courses in addition to specialized courses in supply chain management. Master's program traditionally takes two years to complete; accelerated programs can usually be completed in less time.
- Doctorate Degree in Supply Chain Management - A doctorate program in supply chain management requires intense study and research. These programs usually take three to five years to complete, though program length can vary.
An associate's degree is sufficient for many entry-level supply chain management and logistician positions. However, a bachelor's degree is becoming a more common requirement, especially for more advanced positions. A master's degree or MBA in supply chain management may be the best option for individuals interested in leadership positions.
Earning a Supply Chain Management Degree
Supply chain management degrees can be found through online and campus-based programs. Many business schools with an MBA program offer concentrations in supply chain management. Bachelor's degree programs can also be found at a number of colleges and universities. The best supply chain and logistics programs offer a targeted education, experienced faculty, and career assistance.
Using Your Supply Chain Management Degree
Many people who earn a supply chain management degree go on to oversee aspects of a supply chain. They may work for a specific company or firm or may be self-employed as a consultant. Popular positions for supply chain management graduates include:
- Logistician - Logisticians, or logistics managers as they are also known, are responsible for analyzing and coordinating a company's supply chain. They manage nearly every aspect of the chain, including procurement of the product, distribution, allocation, and delivery. More than half of all logisticians work for the government or manufacturing firms.
- Supply Chain Analyst - Also known as project specialists or supply chain coordinators, supply chain analysts are responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and improving supply chain processes. They predict how logistics will work, oversee operations, and then make a recommendation to make everything better. Most supply chain analysts work for manufacturers or logistics services providers.
- Transportation Manager - Transportation managers oversee the loading, storage, and transportation of goods. Their main responsibility is to make sure things get where they need to go, but they are also responsible for controlling expenses and ensuring transport operates within the law.
Joining a professional organization is a good way to learn more about the field of supply chain management. As a member of an association, you can meet other people in the field and talk to them about their experiences.
As you build your network, you may be able to find a mentor who can offer guidance as you earn your degree and enter the career field. Two professional associations that you may want to consider include:
- Council of Supply Chain Management - The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) is a professional association of supply chain management professionals. They offer education, news, career information, networking opportunities, and much more.
- APICS - APICS, the Association for Operations Management, offers certification programs for supply chain professionals. Certification options include the APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) program, the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) program, and the APICS Certified Fellow in Production and Inventory Management (CFPIM) program.