Supply Chain Manufacturing – The SCM Degree or Certificate You Need for a Career in the Manufacturing Supply Chain

Written by Scott Wilson

metal manufacturing line

Unless it’s something that comes out of the ground, everything in supply chains across all industries has one thing in common: someone, somewhere, made it.

That’s manufacturing. While it’s a source of all the amazing goods and materials that form the headwaters of the supply chain for other kinds of businesses, it’s also an industry with significant logistics demands.

For starters, it needs plenty of that stuff that comes out of the ground in the first place: petrochemicals, wood, metal, plants, you name it. The process of getting those inputs to the factories where they are turned into the next link of the chain is the work of supply chain professionals.

Is Manufacturing Part of the Supply Chain?

silicon die close-up

Manufacturing is both an industry in itself and a component of the overall supply chain in many other industries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), “The Manufacturing sector comprises establishments engaged in the mechanical, physical, or chemical transformation of materials, substances, or components into new products.”

So manufacturing is a key part of industries like textiles, food production, pharmaceuticals, apparel, and petrochemicals.

But as different as all those sectors can be, the demands of logistics among them are remarkably consistent:

For 2022, BLS identified the manufacturing sector as the single largest employer of logisticians, hiring a quarter of those working in the United States that year.

Those activities happen at both a large scale, across continents and oceans in some cases, and at the micro-level, within factories themselves. In fact, logistics on the factory floor can have some of the biggest impacts on efficiency and profitability in manufacturing overall… just ask Henry Ford, whose assembly line process came to dominate every industry, not just automobile production.

So, supply chain managers are needed with the skills and ideas to keep the lines going.

The U.S. Manufacturing Sector Is Growing, and Supply Chain Management Positions Are Growing with It

female steel factory worker

Those jobs range from executive offices where big multi-year sourcing deals are inked, down to the busy factory floor where raw materials are stamped with sweat and fire into finished goods for consumers.

They come with titles like:

You will find manufacturing supply chain jobs everywhere from high-tech aerospace corporations crafting parts that will go into orbit to old-fashioned woodworking shops putting together dining room furniture.

The kind of on-the-job experience you have in all those sectors can be substantially different. Yet the objectives and tasks remain similar:

Supply Chain Manager Salaries in the Manufacturing Businesses?

Naturally, all that diversity in types of manufacturing businesses and in the levels of responsibility that supply chain managers take on results in a great deal of diversity in salaries.

BLS tracks several categories of employment that align with supply chain management work at different levels.

The analysts, contract managers, buyers, and coordinators who directly deal with daily logistics issues fall into the Logistician group. Their median pay in 2022 within manufacturing was $84,550, more than $10,000 above the overall median for the group across all industries.

The positions that manage all those logisticians fall into the category of Transportation, Storage, and Distribution managers. For 2022, their average pay was $122,730 in the manufacturing sector. That’s also on the high side, and above the median for the position in general.

Finally, there are the most senior decision-makers in manufacturing supply chain management: General and Operations Managers. Although the category includes managers who aren’t directly involved in SCM, it has some of the heavy-hitters in manufacturing logistics: vice-presidents, senior directors, and so on.

For 2022, their annual average was $138,030. That’s before you get into bonuses and incentives, which are common at such senior levels.

Looking at the Best Degrees a Job in Supply Chain Management in Manufacturing

engineer on laptop

Supply chains are so central to the manufacturing process that demand exists for professionals at every level of education in the field. They all deliver a basic conception of supply chain principles, and integrate it with more general business, communication, and reasoning skills that help get the logistics job done… no matter what that job is.

So, you will benefit from a formal college education in those principles whether it’s a basic online two-year Associate Degree in Supply Chain Management or an advanced online Master of Science in Supply Chain Management that comes with three years of hard study on top of a four-year bachelor’s program.

At each level, you’ll learn the appropriate skills and concepts for relevant supply chain and logistics positions, from entry-level all the way up to senior management. And you’ll usually get an opportunity to take part in an internship or other on-the-job experiences as part of the package. This is critical to learning manufacturing supply chain management, where textbooks don’t always match exactly what’s happening out on the factory floor.

You’ll also find certain specialized degree programs that focus more tightly on manufacturing industry needs. A Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management will include more coursework in SCM engineering and design, quality management, and lean systems.

You’ll also get a lot of benefit from a Master of Science in Supply Chain and Operations Management and similar programs. Operations are a core part of the manufacturing industry. Specializing in process, project, and systems design sets you up with skills that all manufacturers find valuable.

If you happened to have earned a degree outside SCM but are still interested in logistics jobs in manufacturing, certificate programs offer another way in. A Supply Chain Management certificate includes college-level coursework, but in a package that strips out other general education courses. That lets you complete these programs in months rather than years, and at a much lower cost than a degree.

Professional Certifications to Help Boost Your Career in Manufacturing Supply Chain Management

metal factory workers

Something else to set you apart in your quest to become a manufacturing supply chain management expert is professional certifications.

These are different from certificates offered by colleges. Instead, they are awarded by various private corporations or industry groups. They may include some mandatory coursework, but they are mostly about testing and validating your expertise in a specific aspect of logistics work.

That happens through testing, evaluation of your experience and educational attainment, and sometimes even recommendations from colleagues.

There is a wide range of certifications that hit almost every conceivable specialty in SCM. Those that are particularly useful in the manufacturing world include:

With logistics jobs booming and a resurgence in American manufacturing capacity, supply chain management in manufacturing is sure to be a sweet spot in the coming decades. Setting yourself up with the right education and qualifications puts you in a good position to ride that wave when it lands.

2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Manufacturing reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed September 2023.