Is a Career in Supply Chain Management Hard?


This is whether a supply chain management career is hard.

SCM lets you be right at the center of business practices.

So if you want to know how hard a SCM career is, then this article is for you.

Let’s jump right in!

How Hard Is a Career in SCM?

A career in supply chain management is challenging but also quite rewarding.

SCM (Supply Chain Management) lets you be right at the center of business practices and do everything from packaging to shipping.

Many people find that uniquely exciting. 

As someone working in this field, you will be responsible for ensuring that end products get to your customers.

Is a Supply Chain Management Degree Hard? 

Whether or not a degree in supply chain management is hard rests mostly on what your natural skillsets are and what your definition of a difficult degree is. 

Many people find classes in supply chain management challenging because they rely on the incorporation of soft and hard skills.

Good supply chain managers must balance logic with soft people skills, which some people find difficult to do. 

What Is Supply Chain Management?

At its very heart, supply chain management deals with how goods or services get from their producer to the end-user. It’s one of the most critical systems that fuel commerce, and you can find it in literally every industry. 

Since all sectors rely on good supply chain management, people who excel in it are in high demand.

Supply chain management deals with all aspects of production, including sourcing and producing raw materials, taking proper inventory, and ensuring that products get to where they are supposed to go on time. 

Ensuring punctual delivery is even more critical when you’re dealing with perishable goods or items. 

Good supply chain managers will look at the existing system and make any necessary adjustments to get things moving smoother and quicker. 

They are experts in both thinking outside the box and understanding how to work within frameworks to get what they need rationally.

Is Supply Chain Management Hard in College? 

If you’re wondering, “is supply chain management hard to study?” you’re not alone. Many people want to go into this particular career field but are nervous about how difficult it may be. Whether or not you will find it hard relies on you. 

If you’re good at problem-solving and thinking logically, supply chain management’s challenges might appeal to you. You will relish the fun of tightening up the chain and coming up with innovative ways to satisfy your customers. 

Similarly, if you like working with people or teams, your supply chain management classes should appeal to you. 

Those with a strong business sense will also find supply chain management a logical extension of how they already think.

Hands-on learners and natural leaders do well in supply chain management because they can understand every part of the process and motivate those around them to succeed.

Math, analytics, economics, and logistics are all courses that could factor into your supply chain management coursework. Those who ask, “is supply chain a hard major?” should consider their math aptitude before applying to programs. 

Skills You Need to Have to Excel in Supply Chain Management

There are plenty of different skills that would serve you well in your career in supply chain management, and you will need them during your schooling as well. 

Project Management

Understanding how to set up and see a project through from start to finish is vital for those who want to work in supply chain management.

Business Ethics

Understanding ethical concerns in a business setting will not only make you a good supply chain manager, but it can also keep you out of hot water with lawsuits and regulatory concerns. Anyone serious about working in this field should have a strong ethical compass.

Financial Savvy

You will almost certainly need to have some baseline of financial savvy to succeed in supply chain management.

There’s an excellent chance that you will need to mentally process financial statements and see where you have to cut costs. 

Knowing how to read a financial spreadsheet properly is an absolute must.

People Skills

What makes supply chain management such an important and challenging job is that it combines several aspects of soft and hard skills.

In addition to your financial skills and project management abilities, good candidates also need to work with people.

People are the backbone of any organization, and any supply chain manager who wants to be successful will need to understand how to motivate them properly.   

Is an MBA in Supply Chain Management Worth It?

There are several different variations on an MBA in Supply Chain Management.

You can focus on a Master of Science in Supply Chain Management, Master of Engineering in Supply Chain Management, or a Master of Applied Science in Supply Chain Management. 

As with most MBA programs, those focused on supply chain management take what you learned in your Bachelor’s Degree and specialize it by drilling down into different concentrations.

If you want to get a higher-level job in supply chain management or simply stand out from the pack, an MBA is generally worth it. 

Master’s programs also allow you to network and work at prestigious internships, both of which will hone your soft skills and prepare you for a job in the field.

If you do decide to pursue your MBA in Supply Chain Management, get ready for courses that are more specialized and somewhat heavier on math and science.

Courses like Logistics Management or Supply Chain Security are offered in many universities. 

You can also learn about specific supply chain operations, like Military Supply Chain Management or Enterprise Resource Planning.

Ultimately, if you have the time and resources to pursue your MBA, it’s not a bad idea to earn one.

You will show prospective employers that you are serious about working in the field and be able to offer a skill set that your peers will not. 

Is Supply Chain Management a Good Career? 

Supply chain management tends to be a promising career, precisely because people who work in this field are always in high demand.

On the other hand, there is a market saturation of candidates, so it’s best to come up with ways to set yourself apart.

To do this, make sure that you do an ample amount of networking. Attending industry events is a great way to get your name out there and meet potential employers and partners. 

You can also volunteer for boards or committees and specialize in a particular area of supply chain management. Those with a niche tend to do better than those without one.

Supply Chain Management Jobs

There are plenty of different jobs that fall under the classification of supply chain management jobs. 

Demand Planner

To do this job successfully, you need to have a sixth sense for predicting demand trends within a specific industry.

Demand Planners are responsible for intuiting how much inventory an individual company needs to hit that delicate balance between supply and demand. 

Inventory Planning Analyst

Inventory Planning Analysts work well with Demand Planners on day-to-day inventory needs. They know the inventory inside and out and can forecast when new stock is needed.

Inventory Planning Analysts are especially vital for industries that have perishable products.

Materials Planner

Similar to an Inventory Planning Analyst, a Materials Planner will deal with raw materials or materials that are necessary for making a product. They will source these materials and make sure that they’re always on hand. 

Although Materials Planners don’t actually impact the supply chain of a particular product to customers, they are responsible for the supply chain that gets the product made.

Production Scheduler

This person works with a team of people to ensure that the supply chain is running smoothly and that goals and key performance indicators are being met. 

Without a good Production Scheduler, the entire supply chain could fall apart or be delayed, which could cause a company to lose products and customers.

Transportation Planner

Getting a product from Point A to Point B is no easy feat, which is where the Transportation Planner comes in. These people are on the ground coordinating the physical transportation of the supply chain elements, sometimes juggling many at once.

There are also plenty of supply chain management career opportunities for those who love managing people as well as crunching numbers.

Production Planner

Production Planners are excellent multitaskers. Their job is to figure out what projects need to take precedence and execute them. Generally, they have to coordinate staff, give directions, and come up with a detailed plan to get everything done in a timely and logical fashion.

Warehouse Operations Manager

These people deal with all of the warehouses’ ins and outs, and there’s generally one Warehouse Operations Manager who acts as a point person for each individual warehouse.

They need to be able to make sure that the warehouse runs like clockwork and gets its bit done so that the supply chain can run smoothly.

Why Are Supply Chain Managers in Demand?

Supply chain managers are in high demand because they help companies cut production costs by streamlining supply systems.

Without excellent supply chain managers, companies could lose thousands of dollars in lost product and revenue. 

Is Supply Chain Management Stressful?

Compared to other career fields, supply chain management tends to be more on the stressful side. 

For starters, it’s an extremely competitive field. You have to be on top of your game to make it in supply chain management, but once you do, the rewards of doing great work and making an impact are worth it.

Supply chain management is also a stressful job because emergencies crop up all of the time. Shipments are often late; workers might slack off, there could be an issue projecting how much inventory a company needs. 

Supply chain managers need to be able to handle stress and also keep morale high.

Problem-solving skills are essential for supply chain managers in charge of big teams. They need to think on their feet and get things done creatively if need be. 

Also, this job tends to be stressful because if something goes wrong, the supply chain manager is usually the one that has to take the heat for it. 

Supply Chain Management Salary 

Since supply chain management can be a stressful and taxing job, the salary tends to be on the higher side.

According to PayScale, the average salary for supply chain managers is $83,857. 

Most candidates will make more or less depending on where they are in their fields. For example, entry-level supply chain management jobs earn closer to $60,000 on average, but those with just a few years of experience can make roughly $10,000 a year more. 

Since these jobs tend to be reasonably challenging, candidates who succeed are usually rewarded.

If you can last a decade in the job, your supply chain management degree salary could be almost six figures. It’s certainly a lucrative career path for those who can handle the initial hurdles and understand how supply chains work. 

Supply Chain Management vs. Accounting

Many people confused supply chain management and accounting, but the two are not entirely the same, even though there is a bit of overlap between them. Those who major in accounting have a bit broader of a career path than those who major in supply chain management.

Accounting covers a range of different financial job opportunities. You need some accounting to excel in supply chain management, particularly in jobs concerning inventory, but the reverse is not valid.

Some people like to get a major in supply chain management and a minor in accounting. This is wise if you are going into a more managerial position or dealing with the supply chain’s financial aspects. 

You can also specialize in accounting if you are getting your MBA in Supply Chain Management.


Accounting deals with figures and numbers. It’s a concentration that helps companies balance their books, keep payroll, and process financial information.

People who work in accounting also need to communicate their fiscal findings or projections logically. 

Accounting deals more with the recording of financial transactions than the movement of items along a supply chain.

Supply Chain Management

Supply chain management might deal with accounting, but the purpose of most jobs in supply chain management is not merely to record financial transactions but to influence how the supply chain works. 

For this reason, it’s helpful to have an understanding of accounting, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle.

General Accounting Classes

These are just a few classes that you can expect to take if you want to get your accounting degree. Each university is different, so this is just a small snapshot of what to expect.


Companies get audited all of the time. It’s up to good accountants to understand how audits work, what the auditing process looks like, and how to comply with an audit.

Business Law

Businesses operate by a particular set of laws and ethics. To stay compliant, accountants need to thoroughly understand the best practices of business law and spot red flags before they become significant issues.

Accounting Software

Accountants use various tools to use their jobs, so it’s vital for them to comprehend how information systems and software work altogether. Many colleges will offer classes on typical accounting software and how these systems work together.

General Supply Chain Management Classes

The classes described here refer more to undergraduate supply chain management classes, as opposed to MBA level ones. As with accounting, every school is different.

Inventory Management

Inventory is one of the critical areas that supply chain managers need to work with. Understanding what stock is and how to deal with it accurately is vital if you want to succeed in this field.

Principles of Supply Chain

This class teaches students how supply chains operate and gives them a few golden rules for what to expect from every supply chain that they encounter. It’s an introductory level class that will allow prospective students to get their feet wet with this field.

International Business

Since many supply chains span continents, it’s crucial to understand the basics of international business. Classes like these could focus on many different areas, such as business etiquette in other parts of the world, currency conversion, and how to deal with international customs.

Does Supply Chain Management Require Math?

Most people find that they need to have some necessary math skills to work in supply chain management, but the field itself is not specifically a mathematical one.

Realistically, candidates need to be able to think logically and calculate minor details on the spot.

You need to understand and read spreadsheets and use the material contained inside to make educated decisions about inventory and your supply chain’s sustainability.

You might also need to work with accountants, economists, or mathematicians on the best solutions for problems.

Ultimately, most supply chain managers don’t need these skills for themselves.

People in management might find themselves in positions where they need to understand how supply chains work from top to bottom. For them, it’s important to manage many different jobs. 

In higher management cases, understanding economics and accounting basics could lend credibility and make their jobs easier.

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