Supply Chain Manager

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Are you business oriented with excellent organisation skills? Do you think you’re a good motivator and excel at overseeing large projects?  If you want a job using your management and planning skills, a career as a supply chain manager could be for you. 

Are you interested in working as a supply chain manager? Explore the supply chain and logistics jobs available right now.

What does a supply chain manager do?

Supply chain managers are responsible for organising how goods and materials get from suppliers and manufacturers to the customer. They oversee all stages of the journey of a product, including selecting raw materials, deciding quantity, organising storage, predicting trends and managing distribution. Here are some examples of what working as a supply chain manager day to day may look like: 

  • Liaise with buyers and procurement managers to source products that will sell well
  • Oversee product storage, handling and distribution
  • Negotiate contracts with suppliers
  • Track stock levels using computer software
  • Work on forecasts and inventories
  • Manage and maintain a team of supply chain staff 
  • Develop and maintain relationships with suppliers and retailers

Supply chain manager career path


There are a variety of ways to enter this sector and often graduates will secure an entry-level job or a trainee role and work their way up to becoming a supply chain manager from there. If you choose to enter through a graduate trainee scheme, you have the chance to rotate between different departments within a company and gain experience in every step in the supply chain process. 

Career progression

Supply chain managers can progress to roles as executives, analysts or supply chain planners. Once they have established their entry into the profession,  some supply chain managers work towards accredited qualifications as a way to fast track their career. These are offered by professional bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) and The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), and members of CIPS are able to work towards chartered status later in their careers. 

Future career

With the relevant qualifications and training it is possible to progress in all sectors to roles in senior management or positions at board level, and this industry has many opportunities for career pathways that can lead directly to senior management roles. 

Supply chain manager salaries

  • At entry level as a graduate trainee or buyer you can expect to earn around £24,000 per year. 
  • With experience, the salaries for supply chain executives rise to around £30,000, for supply chain analysts this is £34,000 per year and around £29,000 for supply chain planners. 
  • The average salary for supply chain managers is around £46,000 per year. Whereas, at the level of supply chain director the average is around £100,000 per year. 

Qualifications and training 

Reaching the right level of qualifications and having great experience helps you secure a job as a supply chain manager. Here is an idea of the education and training that you need to succeed:


Trainee supply chain manager roles are open to graduates of most disciplines, although it is advisable to have a degree, higher national diploma or foundation degree in a related subject. This could include logistics, transport management, finance, computing or business management. More information can be found about industry sponsored degree courses in supply chain management at NOVUS, which offers schemes for those interested in the sector.

However, if a degree or further education is not your first choice, then relevant apprenticeships are available. Many companies offer apprenticeships where you learn about the role by working in it with industry experts. Some apprenticeships include a university element where you work towards a degree while working for the firm. To become a supply chain manager, you could start out on a supply chain practitioner advanced apprenticeship, before going on to complete a supply chain leadership apprenticeship or express delivery manager apprenticeship. You can explore the apprenticeships available with this government apprenticeship search tool.

There is also the possibility of getting into this area directly through work. Some people might start in a junior role like a transport clerk and then progress their careers through on the job training and promotion. 

Work experience

Having relevant work experience gives you a headstart in the job market and some employers may favour recruiting candidates from their own work placement schemes. Some degree courses relevant to supply chain management have a placement year option. This is where students have the opportunity to develop practical business experience by immersing themselves in a company for a year, or sometimes for slightly shorter placements. Summer internships are also on offer in larger companies and organisations. Take a look at our current available internships in supply chain and logistics

Placements and internships also provide an opportunity to network with existing employees and gain an idea of what kind of company you’d like to be a part of. Here is our bright advice for networking successfully. 

Supply chain manager skills

Education is an important building block on the road to securing your career in supply chain management, but it is also important to consider the skill set required for the job. Here are some of the hard and soft skills that you need to flourish in your career working in supply chain management: 

Hard skills

  • Computer skills. Much of the day to day organisational tasks of a supply chain manager are completed through computer technology, so a degree of computer literacy, such as competency in Excel and the ability to handle electronic data, is required. 
  • Supply chain terminology. Knowledge about transportation methods and costs, as well as terminology for manufacturing production and processes will be essential for organising your workforce. 

Soft skills

  • Leadership and planning. As a supply chain manager you must be able to take a logical and systematic approach to organising multiple groups of people. You must be able to accept responsibility for any problems that arise as well as provide firm and clear guidance to those you’re working with.
  • Time management. As you often work towards deadlines at each stage in the supply chain, it is essential you’re able to effectively manage your time to prevent knock on effects later down the line. 
  • Relationship management. This career will require you to work well with others and develop relationships with individuals at all stages in the chain. You must be able to motivate and collaborate with others, as well as use strong influencing and negotiating skills to secure deals. 
  • Problem solving. As you are responsible for the smooth running of the supply chain, it is important you’re able to take affirmative action and troubleshoot when problems arise. Supply chain managers must think strategically and laterally. 

Pros and cons of being a supply chain manager

A career in supply chain management can be incredibly rewarding. However, it is hard work and not always suited to everyone. Here are some pros and cons to help you consider whether life as a supply chain manager might be right for you: 


  • Since supply chain management is a necessary role for many different industries, there are many positions available in a wide variety of different sectors. This means it’s more likely you’ll be able to find a job in a field that interests you. 
  • Supply chain managers need to liaise with many different departments and teams of people, so the role is very outward facing if you enjoy meeting people and developing professional relationships. 
  • Managers in this field often work in very fast-paced and challenging environments in order to meet deadlines and ensure efficiency. If you’re someone who thrives in this kind of environment the job can be exciting. 


  • The high intensity nature of the work is not for everyone. As a supply chain manager you are responsible for many different departments of people, with a large margin for error, and for some people this may be stressful rather than rewarding. 
  • Your working life does tend to be office based, although you may be required to travel to visit suppliers or warehouses. 
  • The hours you may be required to work are not always regulated as you need to be on call to oversee and monitor efficiency and troubleshoot problems. 

Work-life balance

The typical hours for a supply chain manager are between 38 to 40 a week, and you would usually work between the regular hours of 8-6pm. However, your role is reliant on the departments you’re working with, and some companies run 24-hour operations which involve shift work. This means you may be needed to stay on call over the weekends or late into the evenings when orchestrating certain tasks. It is also common for supply chain managers to travel to sites in different areas of the UK or sometimes abroad. 

Typical employers hiring supply chain managers

As there is a wide variety of supply chain management careers available, there are many different types of employers looking to take you on. Below is an idea of the types of companies who have positions for entry level supply chain managers: 

Related jobs to supply chain manager

  • Human resources manager
  • Training and development manager
  • Operations analyst

More information

Do you like the sound of supply chain management? If you think it might be right for you take a look at our Guide to supply chain graduate programmes.

If you think you might like to explore a career in supply chain but not in management, take a look at the first hand experiences of Antons, a supply chain analyst with Ocado.

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