What was the last thing you purchased at a store or online? Electronics, clothing, food? Chances are, whatever you bought, it went through a long and winding supply chain to get from its point of origin into your hands.
Many of the things we buy in Canada come from overseas. Items like clothing, for example, are often manufactured in low-cost countries like China, and must make their way to your local mall through a complex series of steps.
They pass through factories, warehouses and distributors, travel by air, train, and boat, are purchased by stores, and finally stocked onto shelves.
The stages a product goes through, from "birth" to bought, is called a supply chain. Supply chain management and logistics is all about coordinating those steps and stages, keeping costs under control, and making sure suppliers, vendors, and customers are all happy.
With so many goods circulating around the world, supply chain management and logistics has become a booming industry. In Canada, we have a serious shortage of trained professionals in this field.
Baby boomers with supply chain and logistics jobs are retiring, and there aren't enough younger candidates ready to replace them.
Considering training in this field to jump on those opportunities? Here are 5 of the most common jobs you'll qualify for with a supply chain management diploma.
Supply Chain Job #1: Materials Planner
If you start your career as a materials planner, you'll probably work at a manufacturing centre, at the point in the supply chain where products actually get made.
It will be your job to make sure your employer has all the raw materials, parts, and components needed to manufacturer goods, and fill client orders.
You'll be keeping track of supply levels, entering data into spreadsheets to track inventory, and connecting with the production team and suppliers to deal with unexpected shortages.
Materials planners help set up a schedule for ordering supplies, and may also ensure products get shipped out to customers on time.
This role takes strong analysis and problem-solving skills, as well as the ability to work with data, inventory software, and supply ordering programs.
Supply Chain Job #2: Materials Handler
A typical entry-level job, materials handlers actually process incoming and outgoing products from storage and manufacturing centres.
In this role, you probably won't be the one ordering materials, but you will alert your supervisor when supplies are getting low.
As a materials handler, you'll be loading and unloading trucks (using special vehicles), processing shipping and receiving documents, storing raw materials and other components in their proper places, and assisting with inventory checks.
It will be your job to ensure all incoming materials go to the correct sections of the manufacturing plant, where different production teams are working to produce goods. You must be well-organized, in good physical shape, and detail-oriented to excel in this role.
Materials handler is an excellent position to start out in, get a sense of how the supply chain works in a specific industry, and begin moving up into more senior roles.
Supply Chain Job #3: Procurement Specialist
Procurement is a highly skilled, crucial role within the supply chain field. Just after supply chain training, you would probably begin as a procurement assistant or clerk, to learn the ropes before moving up into more senior roles.
Procurement specialists are responsible for selecting vendors (to buy manufacturing materials), negotiating payment terms, making contracts with suppliers, and purchasing goods.
Procurement involves sourcing and obtaining all the raw materials, components, and services a company needs to serve its customers (including the stores we all shop at).
You need strong communication, analysis, and negotiation skills to succeed in this role. Procurement specialists are good at making deals, building networks of trusted suppliers, and solving last-minute materials shortages.
A quality supply chain management program includes training in negotiation and contract law to prepare students for this role.
Read this for a closer look: What it's Like to Work in Procurement: Interview with Stefano Petriello, Procurement Specialist
Supply Chain Job #4: Purchasing Assistant/Clerk
People often confuse purchasing with procurement, and regard them as the same job. In reality, purchasing is simply one part of the procurement process. It is a role within the broader job category of procurement.
If you start your career as a purchasing assistant, it will be your responsibility to receive and process materials requests from all departments. You would probably report to a procurement specialist or purchasing manager.
Simply put, purchasing is the process of ordering the goods and services your employer needs to manufacture products for clients.
Procurement, on the other hand, deals with actually finding and negotiating contracts with suppliers for those orders. You might start out in a purchasing role, and with experience, work your way up into a procurement position.
Supply Chain Job #5: Logistics Clerk
Logistics clerks handle the administrative side of shipping and receiving products. They work in offices and warehouses, keeping tabs on incoming and outgoing orders. If there are any questions about where an order is, or the contents of a particular shipment, the logistics clerk will have the answer.
Logistics clerks also arrange client deliveries. If a company orders a product to sell to customers like you, the warehouse organizes delivery through the logistic clerk.
The clerk chooses the method of delivery, based on the size, cost, and type of the order, and tells materials handlers which items to pull from stock to fulfill the request—and when they must be ready to package and ship it out.
If an order gets delayed, the logistics clerk will need to follow up with the customer to deal with the issue. If an item is damaged, or the wrong order gets shipped, the clerk must also resolve the problem with the transportation carrier and customer.
This role is all about controlling costs while delivering goods on time, and keeping clients happy. It's an administrative position that requires excellent organization and customer service skills.
And there you have it! Five different (yet interconnected) roles within the supply chain and logistics industry—all of which you can pursue with a supply chain management diploma.
Learn About Supply Chain Management Training in Winnipeg
Think you'd be well-suited to a career in this field? Interested in learning more about supply chain management training in Winnipeg?
Your next step it to explore the program and speak with an Admissions Advisor. An Advisor will explain courses, career options, costs, financial aid, and whether you're a good fit for this path.
Click below to get started. Browse the program, request free information by email, or chat live with an Advisor right now. We're here to help!