How to Become a Supply Chain Analyst

There is high demand for those seeking roles in supply chain – especially for supply chain analysts. Supply chain analysts are assets that all supply chains need to run efficiently and smoothly. After all, what gets measured is what can be improved. Having an individual overseeing and keeping track of this data to ensure a smooth and seamless supply chain is key to profitable operations.

What Is a Supply Chain Analyst?

A supply chain analyst is a broad yet specific role that encompasses various topics within a logistical or manufacturing operation. Depending on the industry and field, a supply chain analyst oversees the end-to-end process of an overall supply chain and typically analyzes how to ensure the process is flowing efficiently. A vital aspect of the role is to search for areas that need improvement. While there is room for improvement in every department, supply chain analysts may dive into data ranging from procurement, inventory control, or even customer fulfillment.

What Does A Supply Chain Analyst Do?

The specific tasks and duties assigned to a supply chain analyst will range from company to company, but the overall objective is to dive into the data on what the company specializes in – whether that be distribution, manufacturing, freight brokering, or any other aspect of the supply chain process. A few of the general responsibilities within the role include the following:

  • Analyzing operational processes, from procurement down to customer fulfillment.
  • Locating areas of inefficiency and searching for supply chain solutions that will improve the processes. This usually blends into the continuous improvement/lean team.
  • Identifying the detailed cost aspect of operations and gathering data to communicate how to improve/reduce costs to various departments.
  • Examining overall supply chain performance and compiling data to support any potential supply chain solutions and areas that would benefit from performance enhancement.

As you can see, this role is almost entirely data-driven. The supply chain analyst allows operations to have complete visibility into their supply chain. The position requires you to keep a close eye on how things are running and identify gaps that need to be supported or improved. In a sense, it is a middle-man between various departments and aids in cross-functional development.

How to Become a Supply Chain Analyst

Degree Requirements

Students can pursue several types of degrees to become supply chain analysts, but a large portion of jobs will require a Bachelor’s in Supply Chain Management or a related field. This could be finance, management, marketing, risk management, or anything relating to data, business, or operations. According to Zippia, 73% of supply chain analysts hold a bachelor’s degree, and only 15% have a master’s degree.

There are companies that will have different requirements, and the prerequisites listed here are not one-size-fits-all. All companies are different and have requirements based on the specifics of their roles.

Professional Experience

Many companies will post job listings stating that a degree and one to two years of experience are required. This is usually the case for new college grads looking for entry-level analyst positions. While this varies based on the company, many individuals move into supply chain analyst roles from internships in college or working with the company directly without a degree. Those seeking to move into senior supply chain analyst roles have mostly the same degree requirements, but more experience is needed. Most companies promote senior supply chain analysts from within their team of analysts.

Professional Certifications

There is not a specified certification required to become a supply chain analyst, but there are several available that can beef up your resume. These include the following:

  • Lean Six Sigma Yellow/Green/Black Belt
  • Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP)
  • Incident Safety Officer (ISO)
  • Project Management Professional (PMP)
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

Considering supply chain analysts are rather continuous-improvement based, a certification in lean is one of the most beneficial certifications to pursue.

Important Skills for Working as a Supply Chain Analyst

A supply chain analyst will need various skills, but one of the most important is strong attention to detail. The role is specifically designed to catch inefficiencies, analyze the cost impact of those inefficiencies, and strategize about potential solutions – and how to better control the process. A few important skills needed for the role include the following:

  • Strong attention to detail
  • Experience in supply chain management – inventory, procurement, distribution, etc.
  • Analytical thinking
  • Strategy
  • Ability to foresee potential supply chain hindrances
  • Communication/interpersonal skills

With the necessity to mitigate or control obstacles, establishing a proactive mindset can also be advantageous when strategizing solutions to common issues and methods to eliminate these occurrences in the future.

The Career Path of Supply Chain Analysts

The career path of a supply chain analyst differs in each company, but the “standard” process may include a college internship, a move from another analytical position such as a buyer/planner, or a direct hire after degree completion.

The only limitation would be pursuing a management role, in which almost all senior management roles require some form of supervisory experience of a team. This is where a senior supply chain analyst role can be beneficial, as you would oversee a team of analysts and have direct management experience. It is important to note that moving into a supervisory position would be more helpful if you seek a management role instead of an analyst role. Once again, this varies from company to company, and smaller companies can easily have you shift roles if you demonstrate capability.

Types of Supply Chain Analyst Jobs

While companies offer a standard supply chain analyst role, other versions of the position have similar duties/tasks. Here are a few of the different analyst positions within the supply chain industry:

  • Inventory Analyst
  • Industrial Engineering/Continuous Improvement Manager
  • Procurement Analyst
  • Buyer/Planner
  • Demand Planning
  • Distribution/Production Analyst

A significant percentage of jobs in supply chain require some form of data analysis, so you can explore many different avenues for analyst positions. This is especially true in lean-oriented companies because analyst positions are highly regarded. They are working to improve operations daily and implement lean concepts across the board.

Supply Chain Analyst Job Description

As stated, supply chain management is a broad industry that encompasses procurement, distribution, lean/continuous improvement, manufacturing, and more. A typical job description depends on the industry you are actively pursuing, but a general job description may include the following:

  • Developing/implementing efficient and safe supply chain processes
  • Monitor KPIs and supply chain performance
  • Adhering to budgetary constraints and striving to impact the bottom line positively
  • Collaborating with other teams and creating a cross-functional environment
  • Ensuring a continuous output and a smooth, functional supply chain

Like the analyst role, many mid-level and most senior-level positions require some form of a degree in supply chain or a related field. It is possible to work toward the top without one, but individuals without degrees typically have to start as an associate on the floor and work their way up.

Outlook for Supply Chain Analysts

The job outlook for a logistician, another term for a supply chain analyst, is overwhelmingly positive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states it will grow 30% over the next decade – much faster than the average for most positions.

The supply chain industry has come to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the supply chain has previously been “behind the curtain,” COVID-19 has caused unprecedented constraints. Many companies and plants worldwide were forced to shut down or were operating at limited capacity due to the pandemic, causing material shortages globally. This was further exacerbated by panic buying before the shutdown and a substantial demand shift due to stimulus and the economy reopening. This has led to an uptick in hiring and demand for those with backgrounds in supply chain.

How much do Supply Chain Analysts make?

According to Zippia, the average pay for a Supply Chain Analyst is roughly $65,000 a year nationally, with entry-level salary being $47,000 annually. This, of course, all depends on the state in which you are operating and your experience level.

Supply chain analysts are perfect roles for individuals who enjoy problem-solving, analyzing data, and impacting operations. Pursuing a degree in supply chain management while gaining exposure to the industry can help pave the way toward becoming a supply chain analyst and advancing your career in the industry.