How to Become a Materials Planner

How to Become a Materials Planner: Step-By-Step Guide

Although there are many possible paths for getting into this profession, here is a basic outline for what it takes to become a materials planner:


1. Excel at Business, Financial Management and English in high school

2. Make sure you have the right personal traits for this work

3. Pursue a Supply Chain or Operations Management degree

4. Get work experience in manufacturing operations as a student 

5. Advance into roles of greater responsibility and pay as you gain experience and complete your education


Reading on below will give you a good idea of what you'll need to begin a career as a materials planner in the United States or Canada. We've also included helpful information for this field, such as what you’ll be doing, what you could earn, and actual “Materials Planner” job postings.



What Education Will I Need for This Field?

Some employers will only require a high school diploma combined with years of experience in supply chain/logistics or purchasing roles of lesser responsibility.


Some employers however, will insist that you have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a field related to business operations, such as supply chain management, operations management, or business administration.




What is a Materials Planner?

Materials planners work as intermediaries between their company’s manufacturing and purchasing departments. They work with the manufacturing department to determine how much material will be necessary to meet production schedules, and then with the purchasing department to make sure the necessary materials can be acquired.



What Does a Materials Planner Do?

Although their duties can vary, materials planners are generally responsible for the following:


• Working with Product Marketing department to determine the appropriate course of action regarding aging inventories

• Managing the planning process that includes the usage of existing inventories

• Analyzing customer’s purchase patterns in order to develop optimum inventory levels

• Monitoring and managing high-risk components

• Conferring with suppliers on matters related to the customer

• Implementing and maintaining policies, procedures and material control systems

• Scheduling and forecasting the right volumes of materials, goods and products inbound to the business from its supply chain companies



What Experience Will I Need?

The job of a materials planner is typically more of a pragmatic role that prioritizes work experience over academic credentials. Employers tend to place great value on work experience in the production/manufacturing aspect of an organization. Many job postings look for candidates with “1-3” years of experience in a manufacturing environment.


Having said that, some employers insist that you have an associate or bachelor’s degree in a field related to supply chain or operations management. 


Success Tip: Even if it’s not required by an employer, having a relevant degree can be of great help for advancing into roles of greater responsibility, and can provide you with an advantage when trying to advance into senior and executive-level roles.



Will I Need Certification? 

While it won’t typically be required for entry-level positions, working towards professional accreditation with an industry related body can help you advance your career by adding value to your employer and demonstrating your commitment to the profession. Being certified is also likely able to help you command a higher salary. 


There are various certification bodies and credentials within materials planning and supply chain management in general; be sure to speak with your employer about what the most appropriate certification is for your career goals.



How Can I Prepare in High School?

If you’re interested in becoming a materials planner, you should take high school courses in business, financial management, information processing, English and IT. Excelling in these areas will give you a good intellectual foundation for this career, and help you qualify for business degree programs.



Should I Become a Materials Planner?

No matter what stage of your career development you’re at, you should have the following attributes if you hope to one day become a materials planner:


• You have natural organizational skills

• You have a good memory for details

• You’re willing to learn as much as you can about your current role 

• You can work well with others, and take direction from others

• You’re a self-starter with a results-oriented attitude

• You enjoy having clear methods and guidelines for your work

• You have a sense of accountability for the results of your work

• You have of full understanding of how failure would impact customer order fulfillment 

• You’re able to take more than budget into mind when choosing items, namely the best combination of price, quality, delivery, and service



What is the Salary of a Materials Planner?

Salary in the United States: Materials planners are part of the occupational group “Buyers and Purchasing Agents”. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in this field earn a median salary of $59,620 per year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,940, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $99,300.


Salary in Alberta: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working as part of the “Purchasing Agents and Officers” occupational group earn a median starting wage of $30.97 per hour, and an overall median wage of $43.89 per hour. 



Please Note: The salary level you could earn as a materials planner varies depending on the following factors:


• Your level of education, experience and certification

• The level of responsibility involved in your job

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you work

• The industry in which you work

• Many other factors



Who Creates Jobs for Materials Planners?

Materials planner jobs are usually found within the manufacturing industry, either with a manufacturing company, or within the manufacturing department of a larger organization.



Materials Planner Jobs

Our job board below has "Materials Planner" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. 

What Career Advancement Opportunities Are There?

If you demonstrate a strong work ethic, dedication, competence, and an interest in continuously challenging yourself professionally, you will have plenty of diverse opportunities to advance into roles of greater responsibility and pay as you gain experience.


For example, a typical career advancement path might be from an entry-level position or Assistant Materials Planner, to Materials Planner, to a management position such as Purchasing Manager, Supply Chain and Logistics Manger, or Operations Manager. You could also move into administrative roles, such as those found in Quality Control or Finance.


Success Tip: Some roles, such as those in Finance, may require additional education.



What are Careers Similar to “Materials Planner”?

Listed below are careers that may be in the same field, or they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and/or responsibilities as “Materials Planner”:


Cost Estimator

• Logistics Assistant

• Manufacturing Manager

• Materials Handling Engineer

• Operations Manager

• Purchaser

• Scheduler

• Supply Chain & Logistics Manager

• Supply Chain Consultant



What Scholarships Are There for Aspiring Materials Planners? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming a Materials Planner. You can search for relevant scholarships by finding those majors on our "Any Field of Study Scholarships” page.


Success Tip: Apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!




Please consult the following resources to learn more about what it takes to become a materials planner:


• Occupations in Alberta: “Construction Estimator.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 2, 2020.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Buyers and Purchasing Agents.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved March 7, 2017.

• Occupational Outlook Handbook: “Logisticians.” (n.d.). United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved March 7, 2017.


Please Note: Some of the information used for this career guide was obtained from actual job postings, which due to their brief online presence are not listed here as references. 



Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career

We have career guides for over 60 university majors in our database. Below we've outlined those that are most relevant to becoming a materials planner. Click on the links to see what else you can do with these majors!


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