Online Supply Chain Management Degrees

Every product or service sold is the conclusion of a multi-faceted process, from acquiring raw materials, to manufacturing, to delivering products to consumers. Supply chain management coordinates the flow of goods, services, and resources throughout all stages of this process. Organizations pursue competitive advantages by making the links between stages as efficient and economical as possible.

Working successfully in supply chain management requires you to integrate knowledge from many disciplines, including systems engineering, project management, and information technology. To be successful in the field, you need to be detail-oriented, a strong communicator, and capable of working with people from all backgrounds. Familiarity with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software package is also crucial.

One of the best ways to obtain these skills is by earning a degree in supply chain management. Read on to learn more about how to start your career in the field.

Meet our expert

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Frank Guenzerodt Supply Chain Management

“Various skills will be developed…as well as the understanding of global trade.”

Online Supply Chain Management Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Associate $9,381 16.57% 2 years $44,000 $48,454 5.5%
Bachelor's $14,882 10.91% 4 years $54,079 $72,212 N/A
Master's $22,011 6.11% 2 years $68,353 $81,107 N/A
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

Many students from indirect backgrounds seek work in supply chain management, such as those who’ve studied engineering or advanced management. Therefore, students with specialized degrees in supply chain management have a leg up, having actively focused on planning, procurement, manufacturing, and logistics throughout their education.

Students interested in supply chain management can pursue an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree. While many people get their start with an associate degree, working primarily in planning or operations, common mid-career positions as logisticians and purchasing managers usually require a bachelor’s-level credential. Higher positions, such as those in global supply management, may require a master’s degree.

Choosing Your Supply Chain Management Careers

Average Supply Chain Management Salaries

$59,620
$108,120
$74,260

Buyers and Purchasing Agents

Salary: $59,620
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
2% 443,200 Bachelor's

Buyers and purchasing agents are employees who purchase the products or services other organizations use or resell. Job duties include negotiating prices and examining products for quality. Most positions require a bachelor’s, although some employers will hire applicants with an associate degree. Some level of on-the-job training is also required, and communicating effectively with others is a major part of the job. This career requires job candidates to be well-versed in sales, marketing, and customer service.

Purchasing Managers

Salary: $108,120
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
1% 73,000 Bachelor's N/A

Purchasing managers are responsible for acquiring the supplies, equipment, products, and services that organizations use. They also hire, train, and manage purchasing agents. Work weeks are typically longer than 40 hours, and regular interaction with other employees is part of the job. In addition to a bachelor’s degree, purchasing managers need to have professional experience as buyers. An online supply chain management degree can help you develop the skills needed for the position. In school, students develop the strong communication and negotiation skills required, and they also will become familiar with administration in management, production procedures, and resource planning software.

Logistician

Salary: $74,260
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
2% 130,400 Bachelor's N/A

A logistician’s job is to study and review the processes linking every stage of a product’s life cycle, from material acquisition to product delivery. Generally, this position requires a bachelor’s degree, though people with significant industry experience may not need one. Strong analytical thinking skills, attention to detail, integrity, familiarity with computers, and dependability are all vital traits in this position.

Online Supply Chain Management Degree Expert

Frank Guenzerodt Supply Chain Management

As President & CEO of DACHSER USA, Frank Guenzerodt oversees the continuing expansion of the company’s U.S. logistics network of branch offices and service offerings. Since joining the corporation in 2004, he has led the company’s strategic growth program to increase its footprint in the USA for greater reach and value for customers.

When and how did you begin pursuing a career in the logistics and supply chain industry?

I joined a freight forwarding and logistics company after college in Hamburg, Germany in 1993. I completed an apprenticeship with a bachelor’s degree in international freight forwarding and logistics. In 1986, I moved to the United States and held several positions at multinational freight forwarders including international sales manager, branch manager and, ultimately, as a management executive. I joined DACHSER in 2004 and expanded the U.S. footprint from 5 to currently 16 offices. Our plan is to further grow our U.S. organization to 25 offices by 2020.

What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of your career?

Working in an ever evolving industry with people from different cultures all across the globe.

What types of skills does a student develop in a logistics/supply chain management degree program?

Various skills will be developed such as organizational, math, geographical, and interpersonal skills as well as the understanding of global trade.

What traits/skills do you look for in new hires?

The most important is a positive attitude. The knowledge of multiple languages and the understanding of different cultures is helpful.

What advice would you give someone who wants to establish a career for themselves in this industry?

They have to be very flexible, able to deal with constant change, willing to travel, and be motivated to work hard. An education in supply chain/logistics or business-related field is also very beneficial.

Online Supply Chain Management Degrees

Professional Requirements

APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)

The APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (APICS CSCP) is recognized around the world as the leading education and certification program in supply chain management. To be eligible to take the exam, you must have a bachelor’s degree (or international equivalent), three years of related work experience, or be designated CPIM, CFPIM, CIRM, SCOR-P, C.P.M., CSM, or CPSM. The exam features 175 multiple choice questions which cover supply chain design, supply chain planning and execution, and supply chain improvements and best practices. Earning the APICS CSCP designation shows potential employers that you have a thorough knowledge of the field and are qualified to use enterprise resource planning systems to streamline operations. The APICS CSCP designation is not required to work in the field, however, many employers do seek employees who have the credential. More than, 19,000 professionals in 82 countries have been certified through this program since 2006. Most people spend 100 hours preparing for each exam. Candidates are allowed four hours to take the exam.

Is it required?

No

How long will it take?

4 hours

ISM Certified Professional in Supply Management

Around the world, individuals and employers working in procurement, supply management, and supply chain management regard the ISM Certified Professional in Supply Management (ISM CPSM) as a sign of achievement in the field. To be eligible for the CPSM, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and three years professional work experience in supply management, five years professional work experience in supply management, or have have passed three CPSM exams. You may take the CPSM exams before you complete all your work experience. The CPSM exams are comprehensive, covering cost and finance, supplier relationship management, logistics, organization/department assessment, leadership, strategic sourcing, and more. The CPSM is not required, but candidates with professional certification commonly receive higher salaries. The program insists on continuing education to maintain certification, which establishes the currency of training for employers. Depending on your schedule and study habits, preparing for and passing the CPSM takes between six and 12 months. The CPSM designation is valid for three years.

Is it required?

No

How long will it take?

Varies

SCPro Certification

The SCPro certification program helps supply chain management professionals establish and grow their careers, both through the process of preparing for the SCPro exams and in the credibility the certification testifies to their level of expertise. SCPro certification consists of three modules, which build on each other and delve progressively deeper into the complexity of supply chain management. Eligibility requirements change at each level. Level I requires a bachelor’s or higher degree from an accredited institution, or four years work experience in supply chain management. Level II requires SCPro Level I certification and a supply chain management degree plus three years of work experience, or seven years work experience without Level I certification. Level III requires SCPro Level II certification and a supply chain management degree plus five year’s work experience, or nine years of work experience. SCPro certification is not required. Professionals pursue the certification to enhance their marketability to employers and demonstrate their ability to enhance organizational operations. Candidates who took the SCPro Level I Certification independently said it required 2-4 hours a week over 2-3 months. Those completing a work-sponsored program took 12-18 months.

Is it required?

No

How long will it take?

Varies