The world of commerce has experienced radical changes over the last 20 years, with no sign of slowing down in sight. The internet has changed the way companies relate to their suppliers and globalized markets that had previously been locally based. The supply chain industry has since been in a talent drought, with demand for higher-level supply chain management jobs outpacing the supply of qualified workers.

Supply Chain Dive contributor Barry Hochfelder reports a University of Maryland/DHL study that found “the demand-to-supply ratio of supply chain jobs to qualified individuals is 6 to 1.” As with anything else in the market, the higher the demand and lower the supply, the higher the cost. This translates to many high-paying opportunities for those with education in supply chain management.

Higher Demand, Higher Pay

Given the expansion of the supply chain industry, there is a greater need for established roles as well as new roles created to accommodate the greater complexity of modern supply chains. contributor Patrick Burnson quotes Tisha Danehl, Vice President of Ajilon Professional Staffing, “The average base salary for some of the most in-demand positions, such as Supply Chain Managers and Logistics Managers, is $111,994 and $104,705, respectively.”

She goes on to point out that mid-level positions such as Demand Planner and Purchasing and Procurement Clerk are experiencing the quickest rise in demand. With average starting salaries starting between $32,051 and $86,160, depending on the company and the position, these are great jobs for supply chain management graduates looking for an entry-point into the field.

Internships abound for supply chain management students. Danehl points out, “These students likely won’t have an issue finding a job after graduation as we’re seeing many companies starting conversations with students as early as their sophomore year.” This makes networking easier and provides students with the real-world experience they’ll need to keep up with the changing industry.

Limitless Opportunities in Supply Chain

The supply chain industry makes up a huge percentage of all jobs in the U.S. Harvard Business Review contributors Mercedes Delgado and Karen Mills write, “The U.S. supply chain contains 37% of all jobs, employing 44 million people. These jobs have significantly higher than average wages, and account for much of the innovative activity in the economy.” Companies with large and complex supply chains are always looking for fresh talent and creative solutions to streamline their supply chain.

Delgado and Mills found that 88.6 percent of patents in the U.S. economy are concentrated in the supply chain industry. This means that it is a field which values innovation, creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. As the supply chain industry changes due to innovations in fields like artificial intelligence and blockchain, companies will be on the lookout for supply chain management graduates who can keep pace with this change and help formulate new ways to solve problems.

The United States’ manufacturing industry has experienced massive cuts over the years as jobs are outsourced to gain a competitive edge on pricing. In their place, supply chain jobs have proliferated. Given the scope of the supply chain economy, these jobs, with roles ranging from truck drivers to operations managers, are varied and interconnected. On the growing number of these jobs, Delgado and Mills write, “They comprise about 80% of supply chain employment, with an average annual wage of $63,000, and are growing rapidly.”

While it may be politically savvy to insist that manufacturing jobs will make a comeback, experts think otherwise. They maintain that the future of the U.S. economy lies in the supply chain field, and supply chain management graduates will have a huge advantage in this shifting economy.

Stability in a Changing World

In an economy where manufacturing and service jobs are being downsized and replaced, financial insecurity abounds. If one views the economy from the perspective of manufacturing and factory jobs, the outlook can be quite grim. However, as Delgado and Mills point out, “If we were to focus on supporting supply chain services … the result might be more innovation and more well-paying jobs in the United States.”

Having a working knowledge of the supply chain field is a key to a career in an industry that will be relevant for the foreseeable future. While the industry is experiencing seismic shifts as new technologies are introduced, it is still growing rapidly. This means that a degree in supply chain management is a powerful tool to remain relevant and secure in an economy undergoing growing pains.

A career in the supply chain field is a viable path for those seeking high starting pay, opportunities for advancement and job stability. It is a field that values creative problem-solving and flexibility, and hosts a wide range of jobs. While the field will undoubtedly face further change as technology develops, this change will lead to additional opportunities for growth.

Learn more about the University of Wisconsin Parkside’s online MBA program with a Concentration in Supply Chain Management.


Supply Chain Dive: Has Supply Chain Growth Outpaced the Talent It Requires?

Harvard Business Review: The Supply Chain Economy and the Future of Good Jobs in America High Demand for Supply Chain Professionals in the Manufacturing and Retail Industries