If you’ve tried to buy anything recently, you’ve probably run into issues with the supply chain. For example, the latest gaming consoles and computer components are still out of reach for most consumers, as the low manufacturing capacity of certain companies has choked the supply of chips. With most companies unable to meet demand, consumers aren’t the only ones suffering.
Businesses that distribute and manufacture products made from hard-to-find components are losing time and money as they wait for the supply chain to right itself. While it might seem like this problem is impossible to crack, there are a few things that business owners can do to improve their position.
Just like many other crucial elements to business success, the supply chain is something that can be properly managed if you have the right training. Whether you’re a business owner or someone looking to change careers, you may be able to earn a competitive advantage by learning supply chain management (SCM) skills.
Michigan State University (MSU) offers many courses that can help you master different aspects of SCM. After completing one of its 10 master certificate tracks or MS in Supply Chain Management degree, you’ll walk away with a deeper knowledge of the ways businesses can make the supply chain work for them. But before we go any deeper into these programs, let’s talk a bit about how supply chain management works.
MSU’s Supply Chain Management grad program topped a US News & World Report ranking for five years straight. Its certificate programs are also tailored to accommodate upskillers or career changers.Learn more about MSU’s supply chain management programs.
What Is Supply Chain Management?
Supply chain management is the process of supervising every cog of a company’s supply and demand machine. In SCM, you oversee people working for suppliers and demand generators in addition to those working with the supply within your own company.
Naturally, you’ll be managing the supply chain, which consists of every activity, person, organization, resource, and information that it takes to move a product from inception to customer. Because this can quickly become a tangled web of overwhelming responsibility, it’s important to learn as much as you can about this process to ensure it runs smoothly at each step.
Key Components of the Supply Chain
Supply chain management consists of five basic aspects: planning, sourcing, making, delivering, and returning. The planning component comprises a few smaller facets, namely forecasting demand, designing the chain intentionally, and choosing metrics to measure the supply chain’s success.
Sourcing is where supply chain managers determine how and where to obtain the goods, raw materials, and services that they need to create a product while also maintaining those relationships after they are formed. Making is self-explanatory—it’s the process where the product is manufactured, where supply chain managers take in raw materials, check for quality, and ensure the process stays efficient and productive.
Delivering is where supply chain managers coordinate the logistics of bringing a product to the point where customers can buy it, which includes invoicing, scheduling deliveries, and receiving payments. Lastly, though it’s never an ideal situation, there should be a process where customers can return products.
Benefits of Supply Chain Management
The supply chain is an important part of just about every industry that produces consumer goods. From food to electronics to candles and lip balm, everything you buy starts as raw material before making it to your favorite retailer. A well-managed supply chain is great for consumers as it ensures that they have reliable access to the goods they need.
But for businesses, supply chain management offers three attractive benefits: lowered costs, increased revenue, and asset utilization. Businesses with optimized SCM can lower operating costs by keeping track of waste in the supply chain while also quickly adapting to consumer demand. In the spirit of watching demand, supply chain management can lead to increased revenue by ensuring the exact amount of product is manufactured to meet demand and that products stay in line with consumer taste.
Lastly, organizations can use their assets more effectively. The increased efficiency reduces wear and tear on machinery while also lowering their costs and upping their revenue. The benefits of supply chain management are apparent. With multiple supply chains slowing or breaking down altogether due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s never been a better time for effective supply chain managers to jump into the field.
Why Is Supply Chain Management Important Today?
Supply chain management is one of the keys to softening the blow of several supply chain meltdowns on businesses and consumers alike. Though supply chains are built to account for disruptions in the planning stage, the pandemic has had an unprecedented effect on many supply chains that could last forever.
Though the goals of supply chain management may seem simple, effective management can go beyond boosting profits. Healthcare, for example, relies on supply chains to stay stocked with life-saving medication. The supply chains for utility companies help provide reliable life-saving heat in winters, and air conditioning in summers. After natural disasters, relief organizations quickly assemble supply chains to deliver aid to millions of people.
So, if you’re considering either advancing your knowledge of supply chains or entering a career in supply chain management, you can be part of great operations. But there are several more reasons to think about bolstering your SCM skills.
Four Reasons to Choose a Supply Chain Management Career
There are a few significant reasons to choose a career in supply chain management or to just deepen your skills in the discipline. You can open opportunities in a variety of fields, join a growing job market, increase your earning potential, and join a discipline with upward mobility.
Several industries need supply chain managers to keep things running smoothly. But beyond that job title, you can branch out into several subsets of this discipline to find your niche. Some of the job titles that supply chain professionals hold include purchasing agent, purchasing manager, logistics manager, distribution manager, and more.
As these job titles show, if you prefer one facet of the discipline over all others, you can choose to specialize in that facet. And many supply chain managers do, as the 2021 Supply Chain Salary and Career Report from the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) shows. There are seven common career paths for supply chain professionals listed in this report for roles including buyers, schedulers, operations managers, and more.
Growing Job Market
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects several SCM job markets to grow significantly over the next decade. Some of the roles include logisticians, emergency management directors, and management analysts.
There will be 30% more logistician jobs by 2030, according to BLS. This job market is growing significantly faster than the average 8% growth across all markets.
Emergency management directors are seeing slower growth than average at around 6%, but the demand may increase as natural disasters continue to increase. Management analysts recommend ways that organizations can increase efficiency, and companies appreciate the help with job demand expected to increase by 14%, according to BLS.
You can increase your earning potential by becoming a supply chain manager. According to the 2021 Supply Chain Salary and Career Report, supply chain professionals with an associate degree report an average salary of around $68,925, and with higher levels of education, the average only rises. SCM professionals with bachelor’s degrees earn around $77,000, and those with graduate degrees earn around $99,900*.
If you decide to earn one of the certifications, like an APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), or Certified in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution (CLTD), you can raise your earning potential even more. Respondents with just one certification reported a median salary 16% higher than those with no certifications.
If you’re looking to build versatile skill sets, then supply chain management could be your ticket to a lifelong career. As we mentioned above, there are several career paths that you can take through the SCM field and in many different specializations.
The ASCM report lays out several of these career paths for you. Supply chain professionals who start as transportation managers can move up to supply chain managers before getting supply chain director positions and eventually jobs as vice presidents of operations. Buyers can move up to procurement managers, then materials managers, and then supply chain managers.
These are just two of several common career paths that a supply chain professional can take.
So now that you know more about the crucial role that supply chain management plays, how do you learn the important tools of the trade? Michigan State University’s online programs have room for everyone, from newcomers to the field to those looking to advance their careers with postgraduate degrees.
Why Learn Supply Chain Management at Michigan State University?
US News & World Report is a publication that releases prestigious university rankings each year in many different categories. This organization has ranked MSU’s Supply Chain and Logistics Graduate Program as the best in the country for five years straight.
With that credible endorsement, it’s clear that this program does a lot of things right. MSU’s top-ranked faculty places a premium on strong research and it works hard to apply those findings to real-world applications. The fact that this advanced degree is completely online also gives busy supply chain professionals a chance to advance their standings without taking time off from their careers.
And even if you aren’t going for the postgraduate degree at MSU, the school’s supply chain management certificate programs can help you enter the SCM field.
A Review of Michigan State University’s Supply Chain Management Programs
As mentioned above, there are 10 master certificate supply chain management programs offered online through MSU, as well as the Master of Science in Supply Chain Management degree program.
MSU’s master’s and advanced master’s certificates in supply chain management position the expertise and thought leadership of many of the faculty in the top-ranked graduate program within a 100% online learning experience, easily accessible for working supply chain professionals.
The master certificate programs are built by MSU faculty working in tandem with learning design experts to craft rigorous and rewarding programs. These certificate programs are taught on a flexible schedule with a combination of online video lectures, interactive learning material, classroom interaction, and more.
Most master certificate courses are three courses each and are eight weeks long. The two advanced master certificates are five courses total, with each course lasting eight weeks for a total length of 40 weeks until program completion. The advanced programs offer the most in-depth instruction path for students with no experience with supply chain management.
Strategic sourcing is an aspect of procurement where supply chain managers collect data and analyze spending to minimize supply risks. In this certificate program, students learn about the important role that strategic sourcing plays in successful SCM and then learn how to apply its principles to an organization’s daily operations.
Quality negotiation is the difference between an efficient supply chain that runs smoothly at all points, and a supply chain where an organization pays too much while receiving too little. In this program, students not only learn how to manage supply but also how to manage conversations that can make or break successful businesses.
Challenging times in global supply chain management reveal a need for leaders who have been trained by the best. In this certificate program, students will learn best practices in relationship building, strategic sourcing, supply optimization and risk management, as well as how to integrate procurement, operations, purchasing and logistics management functions across the global supply chain.
This program takes students from the very basics of supply chain management up to running a global supply chain. Students start with two back-to-back courses that explain the supply chain before teaching critical SCM techniques. Students then learn important additional skills that they need to manage a worldwide supply chain, from logistics to delivery.
Integrated SCM techniques differ from global SCM techniques in a few key ways. Students in this certificate program learn about maintaining strong relationships with everyone on the supply chain, from workers to customers. They also learn how to quickly adapt to customer demand through manufacturing, and certain strategic sourcing skills to keep things running smoothly.
This program is designed to teach students how to reduce costs across their supply chains. By eliminating financial waste and ensuring goods and services are properly tracked across all stops, businesses can believe they have the best logistical outcomes possible.
This program is very similar to the previous one. Students learn how to properly manage the supply chain over two interrelated courses. But it differs in its final course, which focuses on the manufacturing aspects of SCM instead of the logistical aspects.
Procurement is one of the most important links in the SCM chain. This program teaches foundational SCM principles and covers the importance of strategic sourcing as well as the techniques to properly implement it.
Students begin this course with two entry-level SCM courses. After covering the basics of SCM, students learn about strategic sourcing, supply management, and supply base management.
The second advanced master certificate program covers similar ground to the previous course. But after it lays the foundation for aspiring SCM professionals, it transitions to units on integrated logistics strategy, manufacturing planning and control, and strategic sourcing.
These programs are for people who may or may not have college degrees. However, if you’ve already earned an SCM-related degree and you want to advance your career possibilities, there’s another option that may be more appropriate for you.
Master of Science in Supply Chain Management
The Master of Science in Supply Chain Management program is built to train true leaders with deep knowledge of SCM principles and how to put them into action. This program is designed for experienced SCM professionals who want to earn a deeper understanding and application of supply chain strategies and technologies.
Students learn data analysis principles to monitor supply markets and the efficiency of their chains. They also learn principles from every angle of SCM, including logistics, manufacturing, distribution, lean enterprise, and more.
Because this is a true master’s degree program, it also has certain admissions requirements. Students who wish to enter this program must have an undergraduate degree with at least a 3.0 overall GPA along with official transcripts. They must also have a minimum of two years of professional supply chain work experience.
This program is directly responsible for MSU’s place at the top of the U.S. News & World Report rankings, an honor that attests to its quality. If you’re stuck in your career and you feel like you need a boost to the next level, this may just be the program for you.
Start Your Supply Chain Management Journey
Supply chain management is a field that offers opportunities for organizations and individuals alike. For organizations, the prospect of having an efficient production chain that keeps your customers happy is hard to pass up. For individuals, this field offers competitive salaries, a variety of career prospects, and a strong job market.
If you’re interested in adding these skills to your arsenal, you can learn more about the full suite of Supply Chain Management programs through the university’s website.
*National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Information provided is not intended to represent a complete list of job titles, and certificate and degree program options do not guarantee career or salary outcomes. Students should conduct independent research for specific employment information.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.