How to Become a Supply Chain Consultant

How to Become a Supply Chain Consultant: Career Path Guide

There are many possible paths for becoming a supply chain consultant, although they all involve either relevant education and/or experience. Here is an example of the steps needed to get into this field and advance your career:


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

2. Pursue a bachelor’s degree with a focus related to supply chain or operations

3. Get a job or internship in supply chain while you’re a student

4. Land a job in supply chain consulting once you graduate

5. Move into roles of greater responsibility as you gain experience

6. Pursue an MBA with a focus on supply chain or operations, to advance your career even further


Below, we’ve expanded on these points to give you an idea of what you'll need to begin a career as a supply chain consultant in Canada or the United States.



What Education Will I Need?

Consulting firms generally prefer to hire candidates for supply chain consulting positions that have an undergraduate business degree with a focus in an area related to supply chain, such as Supply Chain Management or Operations Management. Some employers may require a graduate degree, and some will accept a degree in a relevant field, such as Industrial Engineering or Economics.


Success Tip: Generally, the more education you have that’s relevant to this field, the less practical experience you’ll need, and vice-versa.




What is a Supply Chain Consultant?

Supply chain consultants assist clients in developing the tools and knowledge base necessary to develop cost-effective solutions for the different functions that make up supply chain, including warehousing, material handling, purchasing and distribution issues. Supply chain consultants may manage a wide variety of projects, including global supply chain optimization, software selection, strategic sourcing and logistics network design.



What Does a Supply Chain Consultant Do?

Although their duties can vary quite a bit from one job to the next, supply chain consultants are generally responsible for the following:


• Assisting clients in identifying problems, opportunities and risks

• Gathering and analyzing relevant supply chain data in order to fully understand the details of the client’s processes

• Examining inefficiencies based on data relevant to procurement metrics, distribution, productivity and customer demand

• Performing facility visits and asking employees supply chain process execution questions

• Developing and evaluating alternative processes

• Proposing solutions and process improvements to clients

• Evaluating effectiveness of processes adjustments and changes



What Experience Will I Need to Become a Supply Chain Consultant?

Some successful supply chain consultants enter the field through years of experience in working in positions of responsibility in areas related to supply chain, such as warehousing, distribution, purchasing, materials handling, or supply chain in general. 


However, pursuing a business degree (or a master's degree in a specialized field) and being recruited out of university is a common way to get into supply chain consulting. In fact, many of the large consultancy firms actively recruit graduates straight from university.


Success Tip: While you’re a student, get a summer job in supply chain (in warehousing, inventory, purchasing, logistics, distribution, or related areas) to get an early start to your career.



Is a Career in Supply Chain Consulting Right for You?

To succeed as a supply chain consultant, and to find fulfillment in this career, you’ll need certain personal traits, and have certain professional interests and tolerances, including:


• You can work well with others and develop good working relationships

• You have initiative and drive

• You’re prepared to work long hours to meet deadlines

• You’re flexible; you don’t need your schedule to be mapped out for 6 months at a time

• You’re willing to travel to visit client sites, even for extended periods of time

• You’re interested in having several work streams at once

• You’re not the shy and reserved type, as this work is mainly client-facing

• You’re willing to filed critical questions about your recommendations

• You have a service-minded attitude and desire to satisfy clients

• You enjoy analyzing managerial methods and conducting research

• You enjoy taking charge of situations and providing critical assessments and constructive advice 

• You have maturity and decorum, and are willing to abide by your firm’s code of conduct and values



How Much Do Supply Chain Consultants Make?

Salary in the United States: “Supply Chain Consultants” are part of the occupational group “Logisticians”. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers in this field earn a median salary of $74,260 per year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $45,830, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $115,960.


Salary in Alberta: According to the 2015 wage and salary survey (Government of Alberta), Albertans working as part of the “Operations Managers” occupational group (which includes “Supply Chain Consultants”) earn an average salary of $105,167 per year.


Please Note: The salary level you will earn as a supply chain consultant will vary, based 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

• The type of remuneration package you’re offered 

• Many other factors



Who Creates Jobs for Supply Chain Consultants?

Supply chain consultants are usually self-employed or work for consulting firms, or business-to-business service providers (such as accounting firms) that offer consulting services. 

Regardless of their employment structure, their services might be contracted by private companies, government agencies, not-for-profit and non-profit organizations, such as:


• Manufacturers (of virtually any type of goods)

• Local, provincial/state or federal government agencies

• Transportation companies

• Large retailers

• Large distribution organizations

• Logistic service providers 

• Service institutions, such as healthcare

• Recreation and sports organizations, such as the NHL or NFL



Supply Chain Consultant Jobs

Our job board below has postings for supply chain consultant in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. 

What Career Advancement Opportunities Exist?

If you display competence, dedication and initiative in your work, you could move on to positions of greater responsibility and pay, such as Team Leader or Senior Consultant. It’s also possible to become a senior partner in a consulting firm, although such an opportunity is considered rare. 


After gaining experience as an employee in a consulting firm, you might opt to set up your own firm. Alternatively, career advancement for you might take the shape of leaving consulting to take on a management position at a non-consulting organization.



What are the Working Hours Like?

Although some positions or projects would be of the 9-5 variety, working as a supply chain consultant can involve long hours, including evenings and weekends. It can also involve spending a considerable time away from home, as work for clients typically takes place on-site. There is also plenty of opportunity for travel in this field; many firms take on clients across the country, and some take on international clients.



What is the Work Environment Like?

This is not a great field if you are the shy and introverted type; the majority of supply chain consulting work is client-facing, which involves working closely with a client’s operations management and staff. There can also be a lot of pressure to deliver, and to meet tough targets on time. 


On the other hand, if you thrive on the excitement of new projects, and you like being in the middle of all the different pieces that need to come together to make a process work, this work may be very stimulating for you.



What are Careers Similar to “Supply Chain Consultant”?

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 “Supply Chain Consultant”:


• Business Analyst

• Industrial Engineer

• Logistics Assistant

• Management Consultant

• Operations Manager

• Project Consultant

• Supply Chain and Logistics Manager



What Are Scholarships for Becoming a Supply Chain Consultant? 

The “Majors in Our Database Relevant for this Career” section below lists fields of study that are relevant to becoming a Supply Chain Consultant. 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 qualify for, even if it's just barely, 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 supply chain consultant:


• Occupational Profile: “Management Consultant.” (January 31, 2017). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved March 21, 2017.

• Occupational Profile: “Logisticians.” (n.d.). Alberta Government - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved March 21, 2017.

• Job Profiles: “Supply Chain Manager.” (December 8, 2016). National Careers Service. Retrieved March 21, 2017.

• Articles: “Becoming A Supply Chain Consultant.”  Silas Reed (n.d.). Logistics Crossing. Retrieved March 21, 2017.


Please Note: Some of the information for this career guide was obtained from online Supply Chain Consultant job postings, which due to their brief nature aren’t listed here as sources.



Majors in Our Database Relevant for Becoming a Supply Chain Consultant

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


Top Banner Image: