Careers in Supply Chain Management: 4 Popular Questions
According to a report by the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council, more than 875,000 Canadians were involved in supply chain-related roles in 2018. What's more, about 50,700 jobs are expected to become available in this sector between 2016 and 2021. Supply chain management programs can help you gain the skills to stand out from the competition in this rapidly expanding industry.
Curious to find out more? Check out the following answers to four of the most common questions about the supply chain management field:
1. What Is Supply Chain Management?
Let's begin with a typical supply chain definition: an interlinked network of organizations and resources used in the production and distribution of goods. A supply chain includes all the players needed to bring a product to market: suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers, transportation carriers, warehouse providers, and more. Therefore, here's a basic supply chain management definition: the strategic coordination of all activities involved in the creation and delivery of products. The goal is to optimize the process so that a final product reaches consumers as efficiently and as cost-effectively as possible.
Many people, even within the industry, use "supply chain management" and "logistics management" interchangeably. But while they are closely related, they are not precisely the same. So, what is logistics? It is the aspect of supply chain management that deals with controlling the flow and storage of goods. Simply put, logistics keeps things moving through the supply chain in a timely and efficient manner. Supply chain management has a broader focus and encompasses product development, sourcing, forecasting, packaging, and other activities, in addition to logistics.
The more efficiently a supply chain operates, the more successful a business can be. In fact, a PwC study revealed that companies with top-notch supply chains are 20 percent more profitable and have 50 percent higher sales growth.
2. How Can I Train for This Field?
Supply chain management courses are available at universities, colleges, and vocational schools across Canada. Many are recognized by the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council through its National Accreditation Program. Accreditation is not required, but it does ensure that the program meets certain national standards.
Programs vary, but they typically cover topics such as:
- Freight forwarding
- Customs procedures
- Contract law
- Demand forecasting
- Inventory control
- Domestic and international transportation
- Materials handling
- Warehousing and storage
- Negotiation techniques
- Operations planning
- Supplier management
Some degree programs in commerce or business administration offer concentrations in supply chain management. These are typically four years long.
Diploma or certificate programs generally take about a year to complete. Many include internships that allow you to get practical work experience even before you graduate. You can often enrol in such programs right after finishing high school.
Specialized programs are also available for candidates who have already earned post-secondary credentials. In addition, professional development courses are widely available from industry associations throughout the country for those who are working in the field and wish to advance their careers.
3. What Are the Options for Supply Chain Management Certification?
Several organizations across Canada offer supply chain certification. Here are a few options to consider:
The Supply Chain Management Association offers the internationally recognized Supply Chain Management Professional (SCMP) designation (known as Certified Supply Chain Management Professional or CSCMP in Ontario). To begin the certification process, you must be a member of the association and have a business-related diploma or degree (or complete courses in seven specific areas). The educational requirements may be waived if you have at least 10 years of professional work experience.
The certification program is comprised of eight modules and six workshops as well as an intensive week-long capstone experience and a final exam. You also need to acquire at least three years of practical experience that advances incrementally in its scope and duties in order to earn the designation, with at least two of those years coming after you enrol. The entire process can be completed in three to five years.
The association has agreements with both the Institute for Supply Management in the U.S. and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply in the U.K., so professionals who hold the SCMP designation can receive the reciprocal designations in those two countries.
- The Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) offers the Certified International Trade Professional designation for logistics professionals and others who work in global trade. To obtain it, you must acquire the FITT Diploma in International Trade, which requires completing six courses either through FITT or a post-secondary institution. You also need one year of work experience in international business.
- APICS offers a variety of credentials, including the Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) designation. To be eligible, you must have either a bachelor's degree or three years of business experience, then pass an exam. Maintaining the designation requires recertifying every five years.
4. What Is a Typical Supply Chain Management Salary?
In Canada, annual earnings in this field vary from about $38,000 to around $87,000, depending on your particular focus and level of training. Here are median earnings for a few examples of supply chain occupations. (Salaries are calculated from hourly wage data provided by the Government of Canada's Job Bank and represent full-time incomes; figures are rounded to the nearest thousand.)
- Supply chain managers—$87K
- Purchasing agents—$60K
- Production logistics coordinators—$50K
- Inventory control supervisors—$50K
- Purchasing and inventory control workers—$38K
Note that your earnings can be higher depending on which part of the country you live in. For instance, supply chain managers in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and British Columbia all earn median salaries above $86,000. And those in Alberta make a median salary of $109,533.
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