According to the latest available data, federal and state governments employ nearly one-quarter of all supply chain management (SCM) professionals. Labor market data provider Emsi reports that the federal government provides 15 percent of these jobs; states, an additional eight percent. That all adds up to over 50,000 jobs.
Given the significant number of SCM jobs in these sectors, recent graduates and experienced professionals alike can find many positions to suit their interests and skill levels. So how do you become a supply chain manager for the government? This article explores this question by examining:
The government requires supply chain managers for the vast inner workings of countless offices, agencies, departments, and bureaus. The military represents the most obvious example: feeding, clothing, arming, and transporting millions of service members throughout the world does not happen without advanced supply chain and logistics management. But they’re hardly the only government entity deeply involved in SCM. Plenty of other federal and state-level agencies rely on supply chain professionals to keep supplies and people alike moving seamlessly.
Experienced supply chain professionals often enroll in graduate programs to advance to senior roles, while professionals in other fields may enroll to transition into SCM careers. (
You'll have the business chops to transition out of SCM if you decide this field isn't for you and the knowledge and skills to work in management roles in the various areas of supply chain management. ( )
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Government work provides stability, good benefits, and solid income. Unsurprisingly, many supply chain job seekers consider working for a federal or state government agency. For those interested in following this path, we look at some of the varied jobs available below.
The federal government includes numerous large departments requiring supply chain professionals, both in Washington, DC and throughout the country. Job opportunities exist at every step, ranging from entry-level roles to job titles reserved for experienced professionals with advanced degrees.
Supply chain management plays a critical role in supporting the military, both at home and abroad. Munitions, food, and water by themselves represent monumental challenges with a force of over one million active personnel and nearly another million reservists. As SCM Globe points out, “ Logistics is one of most the important components of any overall strategy, because every strategy needs a supply chain to make it possible.” Titles like supervisory logistics management specialist designate individuals with specialized experience in areas of project management, operations management, and budget oversight. This type of role can be found across branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
At the Department of Veterans Affairs, supply chain management professionals focus primarily on procurement of needed medical supplies to take care of the 17.4 million Americans who qualify as veterans. Logistics management officer, or chief supply chain officer, is a common title in this department. The job description for this role includes managing supply chain operations, monitoring logistics functions, conducting logistics audits, and managing sourcing, procurement, and delivery services. These professionals need at least one year of specialized experience, and many candidates hold a master’s in supply chain management or similar degree.
The Department of Transportation offers full-time jobs for logistics management specialists. A typical role currently available via USAJobs closely aligns with the Federal Aviation Administration. Under the supervision of a manager, these professionals assist in planning, coordinating, and establishing logistics policies; identifying specific supply requirements; and tracking supply chains and deliveries.
Individuals looking to work for the Department of Homeland Security can apply for several job postings devoted to logistics management specialists. Taking on this position involves identifying deficiencies in existing supply chains and making improvements, deploying and coordinating support within logistics projects, developing contingency plans, understanding government procurement regulations, and overseeing contract management with suppliers. As with other positions, this role typically requires an individual with specialized experience.
Many different agencies and departments within the federal government offer jobs tailored to those who want to work in supply chain management positions in both full-time and part-time capacities. USAJobs serves as the official database for federal roles; job seekers should bookmark it. The FBI hosts FBIJobsfor individuals looking to work with this investigative bureau. Some of these roles require security clearance, meaning candidates must go through thorough background checks.
State-level roles constitute about eight percent of all supply chain management roles. Each state typically maintains its own database of governmental openings, making it easy for job seekers to review positions based on degree type, title, and work experience requirements. These listings also provide information on conditions of employment to help applicants decide whether a job is right for them.
For individuals interested in seeing job listings from more than one state, Government Jobs acts as a great resource. Positions vary from state to state, but some common roles professionals may come across include:
This role requires experienced supply chain professionals who can lead the department in selecting from a more diverse and inclusive pool of materials and products providers. A position currently available in Florida targets opportunities to increase business with small businesses owned by women and minorities. The state seeks a candidate with at least five years of related experience; salary possibilities range from $84,115 to $135,241, commensurate with experience.
This job, offered by the State of Washington but available in multiple states, requires candidates to coordinate purchases and procurements, assess and decide on supplier bids, establish report metrics, oversee procurement negotiations, and assure regulatory compliance. Candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree and have at least three years of related experience. The salary ranges from $55,872 to $73,260 per year.
Currently offered via the State of North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety, this popular role focuses on the direction, planning, development, and training related to disaster logistics distribution. Qualified candidates possess the skills needed to manage diaster relief materials and stockpiles, deploy needed materials quickly in the event of a disaster, oversee teams, assist with activation planning, and manage inventory control. The position offers a salary between $55,118 to $97,157 and requires candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree and four years of related experience.
Job seekers who find any of these roles of interest should check with their state’s human resources department to find out about current local listings.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs for logisticians and supply chain experts will grow by an astonishing 30 percent between 2020 and 2030, leading to the creation of close to 60,000 new positions. The massive rise in roles for these professionals correlates to wider access to academic programs, both online and in person.
Bachelor’s in supply chain management programs teach students the fundamentals of product life cycles, materials allocation, supplier relations, and data analysis and prepare them for entry-level roles. Individuals looking to take on senior-level managerial positions often opt for a graduate degree. Mid-level professionals with approximately five to seven years of experience under their belts frequently opt for a supply chain management master’s degree, while seasoned professionals with more than 20 years of managerial experience may opt for an executive MBA in supply chain management.
The University of Tennessee-Knoxville offers both of these degrees in accelerated formats and provides the flexibility working professionals need. Those in the MS track graduate in 18 to 24 months from a fully online program, while students who opt for the Executive MBA spend one year completing a hybrid program.
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