"Supply chains are everywhere, from the biggest company in the world to running your household. We all have supply chain experience even if we don’t know it."
You may have gotten your start in warehousing, delivery, or manufacturing. If you haven't, you probably know someone who has. Or perhaps you’ve started your own business and realized how much is involved in getting things where they need to be and meeting customer needs. In the last few years, supply chain job listings in areas such as manufacturing, warehousing, and transportation, spanning nearly every industry sector, have spiked. And the opportunities for being your own boss are never better.
So how can you take the skills you’ve earned and turn them into secure, well-paying, and growing jobs? Consider an online bachelor's, master's, or professional certification program in supply chain management.
What is supply chain management?
Supply chain management positions have a range of skills and often oversee how raw materials evolve into consumer goods, or guide how services are provided to consumers. On the production side, jobs in supply chain management often include the intricate processes of acquiring, moving and storing materials, storing the finished products, and orchestrating and tracking sales to efficiently project and manage future manufacturing, distribution, and sales. On the services side, it focuses on providing timely, effective, and quality service offerings to satisfy customer needs.
Supply chain management is a critical part of nearly every industry, from consumer goods to the automotive industry, from health care to pharmaceuticals, and beyond. Almost every major employer in the U.S. needs well-trained supply chain professionals, and thousands are actively looking.
Why should I work in supply chain management?
You may be uniquely qualified. According to a U.S. News article, logistics may be perfect for people with a military background. Coordinating the efficient movement of both people and materials, as well as problem solving and communication, are all military specialties. If you are currently serving or have served in the military, you probably already have the fundamental knowledge needed to get a job in supply chain management.
Besides the organic growth of online retail and manufacturing in a post-pandemic world, supply chain optimization is a priority for the current presidential administration. The world saw major supply chain disruptions across almost all industries due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and President Biden’s 2021 executive order requested a review of America's supply chains. This likely means that there will be a major focus on more efficient manufacturing and supply chain operations in the future.
However, you don't need military training to excel in supply chain-connected industries. Hiring managers in the supply chain industry look for the following skills:
- Ability to prioritize, plan, & organize
- Ability to learn quickly
- Oral communication skills
- Ability to manage relationships
- Motivation / enthusiasm
- Ability to perform under pressure
- Decision making skills
- Problem solving skills
- Initiative / resourcefulness
- Listening skills
You also don't necessarily need a supply chain background to excel in the field. According to Dr. Erika Marsillac, Associate Professor of Information Technology and Decision Sciences at Old Dominion University, professionals with backgrounds in diverse industries such as engineering, modeling and simulation, business and entrepreneurship, and cybersecurity also have a strong base in the field.
Even areas such as psychology and business administration play a critical role, since the subjective "human factor" of supply chain management is just as important as the objective data and technology.
What kind of jobs can I get with an online degree in supply chain management?
According to a 2021 LinkedIn "Jobs on the Rise" article, e-commerce is a booming area for new jobs. With hundreds of thousands of jobs opening and no signs of online shopping slowing down, positions like supply chain associate, logistician, and logistics engineer are a great place to start looking.
The majority of qualified candidates have a bachelor's degree or higher, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists logisticians with a 30% growth job outlook* and a 2020 median salary of $76,270.
What are ODU's online supply chain management programs like?
ODU's main campus in Norfolk, Virginia is situated in one of the largest natural deep-water harbors. This thriving maritime ecosystem includes the world’s largest naval base, shipbuilding and ship repair industries, and over 55 public and private marine terminals. The nearby Port of Virginia is the second-largest port on the East Coast by tonnage, and the third-largest port on the East Coast by container volume.
ODU has ample opportunities to study maritime trade and supply chain management at local, regional, and global levels. We are also the only Hampton Roads university with a Graduate Supply Chain Certificate program, and the only university in the U.S. that offers a Maritime and Supply Chain Management undergraduate and graduate program.
Through ODU's International Institute of Maritime, Ports and Logistics Management, faculty, students and practitioners can connect to supply chain partners, service providers, businesses, and government agencies. These contacts are involved in the movement of cargo, with the goal to discuss and develop solutions to challenges in our maritime industrial and logistics ecosystem. These connections put ODU at the forefront of the dynamic maritime and supply chain management industry.
ODU is also the leading partner in the OpenSeas Technology Innovation Hub, which connects entrepreneurs, industries, and communities to address global maritime and coastal issues.
For more information on ODU's online supply chain programs, as well as ODU's other online business programs, visit online.odu.edu/business.
*Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of September 2021.