Looking for a challenging career? Are you detail-oriented, analytical and willing to work in a fast-paced environment? If so, then you may be interested in preparing to become a global supply chain planner. Working in a wide variety of settings and industries, these professionals assist management in reaching organizational goals by analyzing global resources and predicting future requirements to balance supply with customer demand.

How do you break into the field of global supply chain planning? This career guide can help, with all the information you need to plan your path – from educational background, to the skills and attributes employers look for when hiring for this position. You’ll also learn about typical job duties, earning potential and where to find jobs in this expanding occupation.

Job growth in the category that includes global supply chain planners is expected to be strong in coming years, according to national data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2011. In fact, employment in this field is projected to increase by as much as 13% through 2018. Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research regarding actual job growth rates, which vary according to location, education and experience.

What is a Global Supply Chain Planner?

Global supply chain planners are responsible for planning, scheduling and developing project management tools in support of a global organization’s operations. They often work closely with factory, production, sales and logistics colleagues, as well as with raw materials suppliers, to ensure plans are aligned with demand and supply.

Why Global Supply Chain Planners Matter

Creating a global production plan that is actually achievable takes a great deal of planning and analysis—which are the global supply chain planner’s specialties. Their purpose is to increase efficiency, improve customer service, decrease waste and lower costs. In fulfilling their job duties, global supply chain planners contribute to the bottom line and corporate sustainability, while ensuring that the goods consumers want are readily available.

Global supply chain planners are typically responsible for monitoring and managing global inventories, and forecasting sales and production levels to plan for materials needed. They will often track delivery performance and response time, as well as handle capacity planning and various logistics projects.

Additional duties for global supply chain planners include developing, publishing and monitoring production plans, and analyzing finished goods levels. Professionals in this role may also gather and analyze data and other information to prepare trends and forecasting reports for colleagues, management and other stakeholders.

Where Can I Find Jobs as a Global Supply Chain Planner?

Global corporations in a broad range of industries utilize the services of global supply chain planners. While some employers may prefer industry-specific knowledge, the essential skills utilized in this field will often transfer across channels. Global supply chain planner jobs can often be found in industries such as medical device manufacturing, consumer goods, chemical manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, and technology operations.

Education Preparation for Jobs in Global Supply Chain Planning

Qualifications for global supply chain planner jobs will vary according to the industry and employer. If you’re competing for one of these positions, you’ll likely need some related work experience, and a college degree, at minimum.

  • Associate’s Degree: You may qualify for entry-level jobs in supply chain with a two-year associate’s degree and work experience. Advanced positions will generally require at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • Bachelor’s Degree: Most employers hiring for supply chain planning positions will require a four-year bachelor’s degree in supply chain, business, engineering or a related discipline, along with industry certification or equivalent work experience.
  • Master’s Degree: Qualifying for a senior-level global supply chain planner position may require an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Supply Chain Management or a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). These advanced degrees typically take an additional one to two years beyond the bachelor’s level.

Employers will also assess a candidate’s business skills, personal attributes, industry knowledge and distinctions such as industry certifications or professional training.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement

If you aspire to a global supply chain planner career, you’ll need to demonstrate strong planning, quantitative and reasoning skills, as well as proficiency in database software applications. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are a must. You’ll also do well to gain an understanding of supply chain principles, and to sharpen the following skills and attributes:

  • Rational decision-making, negotiating and influencing skills.
  • An analytical work style.
  • The ability to work effectively on a team or independently.
  • Accountability, initiative, integrity and maturity.
  • Foreign language skills.

Advancing in this field may be possible upon gaining work experience or obtaining an advanced degree. Some employers may offer tuition assistance that could enable you to earn an advanced degree.

Potential Salary for Global Supply Chain Planners

According to a 2010 national survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, the median annual salary for the occupational category that includes global supply chain planners was $96,450. Because salary potential may vary depending on location, education and experience, prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research to determine actual earning potential.

A Global Supply Chain Planner Career Can be Yours with Proper Planning

If you get a kick out of analyzing and quantifying data, and have a desire to contribute to the economy on a global scale, you may be a great fit for a global supply chain planner career. Use this career guide as your planning tool, and you’ll soon be ready for success in this exciting and challenging field.

* Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research regarding actual job growth rates, which vary according to location, education and experience. 

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