8 Different Supply Chain Careers: What Are Your Options?

Updated December 2023

Supply chain management is a vast field. Think about the process a single piece of clothing or technology goes through, from point of origin to your local store shelf. 

There are raw materials to source, a manufacturing process, warehousing, distribution, global transportation logistics, and local delivery networks.  

At each stage, there are contracts to be made, negotiations, problem-solving, costs to manage, orders to track, and clients to update. 

Supply chain management is a highly complex, global industry with many areas of specialization and potential career paths. 

Companies need skilled workers in a wide variety of roles, to run daily operations, reduce costs, and improve supply chain efficiency. 

So what are your supply chain career options if you’re new to the field and looking for entry-level positions? 

These are eight supply chain careers you can start with a diploma in supply chain management. Compare jobs, explore training, and learn how to get started.  


Supply Chain career #1: Procurement Agent 

A procurement agent is responsible for obtaining the materials a company needs to manufacture its goods or provide its services.

The core objective of this role? To raise company profits by making the most high-quality and cost-effective purchases. 

The procurement agent must ensure their employer has the raw materials and components necessary to meet client demand. To do that, they need to find the best suppliers, negotiate smart deals, and verify materials will arrive on time. 

Typical responsibilities in this role include: 

  • Analyzing client needs and developing a procurement plan  
  • Establishing and managing supplier relationships 
  • Selecting the most competitive vendors  
  • Negotiating payment terms 
  • Making contracts with suppliers 
  • Preparing contract documents 
  • Purchasing required goods and materials  
  • Preparing cost reports 
  • Resolving any contract issues that arise 
  • Tracking supply trends and dealing with materials shortages 


Supply Chain career #2: Purchasing Clerk 

Purchasing sounds a lot like procurement, but it’s a different role within the supply chain industry. Purchasing clerks deal specifically with payment transactions, inventory, and records management. 

They collect materials requests from different company departments and help process purchase orders for those supplies. 

Purchasing clerk is an entry-level role that usually reports directly to a purchasing supervisor, buyer, or procurement specialist. 

Typical responsibilities include: 

  • Receiving and processing materials requests from all departments 
  • Processing payment transactions and forwarding receipts 
  • Updating inventory lists 
  • Maintaining purchase order records  
  • Performing clerical/administrative tasks 


Supply Chain career #3: Retail Buyer 

This is another supply chain job that involves purchasing items. But in this case, the retail buyer isn’t purchasing raw materials or parts for the company to make products. Instead, she’s buying goods for direct re-sale to customers.  

For example, the retail buyer works for a fashion brand and selects the clothing they will put on store racks each season. 

Many buyers have a specialty, like shoes, clothes, sporting equipment, or medical supplies. 

This is an extremely important position because the decisions the buyer makes can have a huge impact on company revenue. She needs to carefully track consumer trends and make sure the products she purchases will sell well in stores. 

Typical responsibilities for this role include: 

  • Analyzing consumer trends to determine which products to buy 
  • Doing research and identifying which vendors offer the best price 
  • Building strong and trusting relationships with suppliers to ensure reliable, cost-effective deliveries 
  • Verifying the quality of goods before purchasing 
  • Watching the market for new products and materials that could help reduce costs 
  • Keeping an eye on foreign exchange rates that could impact profitability 


Supply Chain career #4Supply Chain Coordinator 

Supply chain coordinator is a wide-reaching role, responsible for almost every task we’ve covered so far. This position oversees the entire supply chain for a company. The Supply chain coordinator handles procurement, inventory management, shipping logistics, and client follow-up. 

In most cases, they manage staff that helps carry out these functions, such as procurement agents, buyers, and purchasing clerks. Most supply chain coordinator jobs require several years of experience, so you won’t start out in this position straight after college. 

However, not all employers require a university degree for this role. Your supply chain management diploma combined with proven experience can help you move into management. 

Typical responsibilities for a supply chain coordinator include: 

  • Overseeing the buying of goods and services on behalf of the company or specific clients 
  • Coordinating inbound and outbound orders 
  • Organizing the most efficient and cost-effective transportation carriers 
  • Sourcing vendors and negotiate contracts 
  • Ensuring the quality of purchased goods 
  • Keeping clients updated 
  • Working with the sales team to forecast supply demand  
  • Maintaining adequate inventory 
  • Analyzing statistical data 
  • Recommending strategies to optimize the supply chain and save costs 
  • Preparing performance/management reports 


Supply Chain career #5: Materials Handler 

As the title suggests, materials handler is a hands-on warehousing position. This is an entry-level supply chain job that involves pulling and restocking goods and keeping the warehouse organized. 

When an order comes through, it’s the materials handler who locates the item and prepares it for shipping. When a delivery arrives, the materials handler processes it and stores it in the correct place. 

These procedures include several key steps and responsibilities: 

  • Loading and unloading delivery trucks (often using special vehicles) 
  • Documenting materials and supplies by recording units delivered and location of units 
  • Verifying supply codes and lot numbers 
  • Storing raw materials and other components in their proper places 
  • Directing incoming goods to the correct section of the warehouse or manufacturing plant 
  • Coordinating with the planning department on shipment and production schedules 
  • Preparing stock for shipment by identifying, pulling, packing, crating, loading, and securing the product 
  • Ensuring incoming and outgoing shipments are accurate and undamaged 
  • Inspecting and maintaining material-handling equipment 
  • Assisting with inventory checks 

This is a job you can get straight out of supply chain management training. It's an excellent way to observe and understand the supply chain process and gain the experience needed to move into supervisor positions.


Supply Chain career #6: Shipping and Receiving Supervisor

After learning the ropes as a materials handler, you might want to tackle the role of shipping and receiving supervisor. A shipping and receiving supervisor manages the workers responsible for handling incoming and outgoing orders. 

They set the shipping priorities, assign tasks, develop shipping procedures, determine storage space requirements, and supervise daily operations. 

Shipping and receiving supervisors have the following responsibilities: 

  • Supervising, training, and scheduling warehouse employees 
  • Optimizing warehousing procedures to lower operating costs and improve shipping efficiency 
  • Organizing warehouse to optimize use of space 
  • Planning and coordinating merchandise shelving and storage 
  • Using software to track, check, prioritize, and route orders 
  • Organizing drivers’ routes and schedules 
  • Coordinating quality control inspections of incoming and outgoing products 
  • Managing all important documents such as advanced shipping notices, pick slips, and bills of lading  
  • Evaluating employee performance 

Shipping and receiving supervisor jobs come in all shapes and sizes. In small companies, you might oversee just a few other workers. In a larger company, you might be in charge of 50 employees and hundreds of incoming and outgoing shipments each month. 

Required qualifications range from just a year or two of related experience to 10+ years of proven expertise. Depending on the company, you can qualify for this role with a supply chain management diploma plus one to two years of work experience. 


Supply Chain career #7: Warehouse Supervisor 

The warehouse supervisor is responsible for everything that goes on in the warehouse—including staff, security, equipment maintenance, employee safety, inventory, and supplies. 

This is a key role because warehousing procedures and efficiency have a direct impact on shipping, receiving, order fulfillment, and client satisfaction. 

Warehouse supervisors handle the following tasks: 

  • Optimizing warehousing, shipping, and distribution procedures
  • Preparing budgets and financial reports 
  • Recruiting, hiring, and training warehouse employees 
  • Tracking and controlling inventory 
  • Maintaining documentation and keeping accurate records of warehouse activities 
  • Implementing security measures to protect warehouse contents and operations 
  • Maintaining the condition of the warehouse by organizing repairs and ordering new equipment 
  • Protecting workers by implementing occupational health and safety programs and ensuring compliance with safety legislation 


Supply Chain career #8: Logistics Clerk 

Logistic clerks handle the paperwork and clerical duties involved in shipping products. They work in offices and warehouses, recording and organizing incoming and outgoing deliveries.  

If a manager wants to know where a shipment is, or the contents of a particular order, she will ask the logistics clerk. 

This is an administrative role that typically involves the following responsibilities: 

  • Maintaining paper and electronic files on all orders 
  • Tracking orders 
  • Checking for quality 
  • Answering billing questions 
  • Updating the inventory database 
  • Receiving and processing orders from the sales team
  • Coordinating deliveries 
  • Choosing delivery transportation methods based on size, cost, and when the items are needed 
  • Resolving issues with carriers 


ESSENTIAL Skills for All Supply Chain careers

Looking at these eight supply chain careers, it’s easy to see how the roles depend on each other and in some cases, overlap.

Every stage of the supply process relies on the next—one broken link can disrupt the entire chain. 

This is an industry where teamwork and communication are king. To succeed in any supply chain management job, you need to possess: 

  • Excellent communication and “people” skills 
  • The ability to work well with others 
  • Strong attention to detail 
  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills 
  • Grace under pressure, with the ability to move and think quickly 
  • Good customer service skills 
  • A desire for continuous improvement 
  • Effective computer skills
  • A fundamental understanding of supply chain processes, challenges, and opportunities


Get Your Supply Chain Management Career Started 

Ready to take the next step and learn more about supply chain management training? You don’t need a university degree to get your career off the ground.  

At Herzing College, we offer an accelerated 12-month supply chain management program that includes a six-week internship. This training is delivered online. 

The supply chain management program is taught by highly experienced professionals and focuses on the practical skills and knowledge required for entry-level jobs. 

Herzing’s program is endorsed by Supply Chain Canada (SCC). Graduates get both a diploma from Herzing and a nationally-recognized Supply Chain Management Training (SMT) diploma from the SCC. 

Click below to explore the program and chat live with an admissions advisor. We're here to help!

Explore the Supply Chain Management Program

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