Starting Your Supply Chain Management Career

Formerly the Careers in Supply Chain Management website, these pages will help you understand and provide valuable resources to begin your career in supply chain management (SCM)

The Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), through its Education Strategies Committee and other volunteers, developed this resource to familiarize you with supply chain management careers. This tool will help you understand what a supply chain is, the importance of SCM, how supply chains impact everyday life, and how you can begin your career as a SCM professional.

In these pages, you will learn about:
The Importance of SCM
SCM Concepts
Finding the Right Career
SCM Education and Experience
Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Supply Chain?

Supply chains are made up of all the companies that participate in the design, assembly, and delivery of a particular product.

  • Vendors supply raw materials
  • Producers convert those raw materials into products 
  • Warehouses store that product until it’s needed
  • Distribution centers pick up and deliver that product
  • Retailers, online and in-store, bring that product to you
  • Supply chains are the reason that the producer can provide customers what they want, when and where they want it, at the price they need.

For example, in the electronics industry, the supply chain is the central nervous system that governs how products are created. In an HDTV supply chain, a variety of companies play a role in building the components, assembling the final product, and moving it through the supply chain (see chart below). The goal of the supply chain is to have the television in stock when you’re ready to purchase it.

The Supply Chain of HDTVs

In an effort to help people better understand SCM, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals has produced a 40-minute DVD, What in the World is the Global Supply Chain? explaining what the supply chain is, how it works, and what it looks like in action. To purchase a copy, please contact membership@cscmp.org or call +1 630.574.0985.

Also check out this informative video, Keeping the Global Supply Chain Moving, by the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.

What is Supply Chain Management?

Supply chain management encompasses everyone involved in maintaining the supply chain. Behind every product you use – electronics, coffee, clothing, lawn mowers – there are SCM professionals making it possible to get your products better, faster, and cheaper.

Each year, these products get bigger and better, yet the prices drop. How is it possible? It’s the end result of SCM professionals working together – LCD glass panel fabricators in South Korea, semiconductor manufacturers in Taiwan, television assembly plants in Mexico. These global partners collaborate across time zones and oceans to decrease costs and increase performance in ways no single company ever could.

In essence, supply chain management integrates supply and demand management within and across companies. Companies like Dell, Nokia, Proctor & Gamble, Toyota, and Walmart consider SCM to be a key factor in their overall success.

Not only is supply chain management important to the world’s leading organizations, this fast-paced, global field offers tremendous employment opportunities. Nearly every size and type of organization needs motivated, well-prepared individuals to become their supply chain leaders.

Supply chain management has a language of its own and numerous acronyms that are used in the industry. In fact, there are thousands of terms specific to managing supply chain processes. These terms are generally explained in supply chain textbooks, but you can also access online supply chain tools that discuss the meaning of logistics and supply chain terms.

Download the glossary of supply chain and logistics terms

And if all of that doesn't clear it up, the best definition of supply chain management was given to us by CSCMP's 2015 Distinguished Service Award winner, Robert Martichenko:

"We move big stuff and little stuff, we move dry stuff and wet stuff, we move hot stuff and frozen stuff. Some of us actually have the trucks, trains, airplanes, pipelines, and boats to move the stuff. And some of us just plan and coordinate the movement of the stuff and give it to the people who can actually move the stuff. We also have a lot of people who run big warehouses that store the stuff when the stuff can't move to the customer just yet. And, we don’t always agree on the right way to move and store the stuff, so we have academics and teachers who think of better ways to move and store the stuff.

Added to all this, we like to move our stuff over very long distances and store our stuff at crazy places so we have technology companies that build software tools so we can always see our stuff and so that we can use advanced mathematics to attempt to guess how much stuff we want to move. We love to guess a lot.

And, a lot of companies want professionals like us to move their stuff so we have third parties, professional recruiters, and many other professionals who help companies hire the right people and implement the right processes to move their stuff.

So, in summary, what we do is create the environment so all the people in the world can have the right stuff, in the right place, at the right time, in the right quantity and the right quality, and all at the right price."