According to the American Psychological Association, finding a job that is meaningful and purposeful is an essential part of being happy in your career. Although what is considered meaningful varies from person to person, the most satisfied and engaged employees see their work as part of the greater good. Unfortunately, the majority of people are unhappy at work. According to a 2019 Gallup poll, 60% of workers consider their jobs mediocre or bad. Perhaps this is because, as Gallup says, people want their careers to be more than “just a job.”
In supply chain, however, that objective is being met, as industry professionals at all levels contribute to a larger goal. And today, while the whole world is experiencing uncertainty and instability in our local economies and personal lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of the supply chain and its essential workers is clearer than ever.
The results from the ASCM 2020 Supply Chain Salary and Career Report reinforce these messages. More than 2,400 U.S. supply chain professionals participated in ASCM’s third annual survey. Following is what they had to say about being a part of supply chain.
Career satisfaction among supply chain employees vastly outpaces the rest of the country. ASCM asked professionals to rate their careers on a scale of one (unsatisfied) to 10 (extremely satisfied) and found that 70% of respondents give their work an eight or higher. Approximately 40% of respondents rated their satisfaction a nine or 10. Overall, 88% of supply chain professionals have a positive outlook about their careers.
ASCM also asked respondents to rate how likely they would be to suggest a supply chain career to someone outside of the industry. Approximately 85% of respondents said they would recommend a career in supply chain.
Those in the industry have always known that they play a crucial role in their communities and the world. But now, more than ever before, people everywhere are realizing that the supply chain plays a crucial role in the global economy. Even during the uncertainty of a pandemic, most consumers are still able to access food and essential supplies for their families, and concrete plans continue to be established for those goods to be produced and delivered going forward. Nothing tells the story of the industry’s success better than people's level of satisfaction with their jobs and the fact that they want to share that success with others.
HIGHER PAY, BIGGER RAISES
Consistently, good pay is a benefit of a supply chain career. According to ASCM’s survey, U.S. supply chain professionals with a bachelor’s degree earned a median annual salary of $78,750 in 2019, which is 24% higher than the median of other U.S. workers with the same degree. The bottom 10th percentile of those in the supply chain profession earned $52,130; in the highest 90th percentile, they made $158,000 per year. In addition to their base salaries, 91% of supply chain professionals report receiving supplementary compensation, most commonly in the form of bonuses, profit sharing and overtime pay.
Even the raises are higher among supply chain professionals. In 2019, the U.S. national average for an annual raise was 3.5%; whereas, the average raise among the supply chain professionals surveyed was 4.7%. Notably, 18% of survey respondents report receiving a pay increase of 10% or more.
Salary and growth potential are perhaps best expressed by what happens over the course of one’s career. Although supply chain workers on average make $60,000 in their first two years of employment, they earn a median salary of $90,000 by year 10 and a median salary of $103,000 by their 20th year on the job. And the supply chain field offers exponential growth for those who continue working in the field beyond year 20.
These salary increases only improve with certification, such as the APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM); Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP); or Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) designations. Supply chain professionals who hold at least one APICS certification report a median salary 12% higher than those who are not certified and have an 18% higher salary than those with other, non-APICS certifications. Of those who hold an APICS certification, 21% higher median salary than those with no certification. Specifically, professionals in the 90th percentile who have no certifications earn $116,000 annually; whereas, those with two or more certifications earn more than $151,000 annually. Although it does require time and effort to earn a certification, many companies offer employees support while pursuing this kind of professional development.
CLOSING THE GENDER PAY GAP
One area of inequality that is evident, both inside and outside of supply chain, is the gender pay disparity. Women ages 30-39 earn 93% of the salaries of men in the same age group. The gap is larger in the 40-to-49 age range and greater still for supply chain professionals who are 50 and older. Although the gender pay gap in the supply chain industry is smaller than the national average, there is still work to be done. It is critical for business leaders to be aware of this discrepancy during hiring and promotion processes.
Interestingly, individuals in supply chain who are less than 30 years old, regardless of gender, report the same median salary. Hopefully, this is a sign that the industry is moving in the right direction for the most recent entrants to the field. However, supply chain organizations must keep in mind that it is also possible that the reasons behind these positive numbers simply reflect the fact that these women have not left the workplace to have children or take on other caregiving responsibilities. The National Organization for Women estimates that, for every child a woman has, she suffers a 5% wage penalty. Additionally, Professors Lawrence Kahn and Francine Blau at Cornell University say that one-third of the gap in female participation in the labor force is a result of poor family leave and workplace flexibility. Being transparent and intentional about diversity and inclusion policies is essential for supply chain organizations.
Paid time off, health insurance and workplace flexibility also are meaningful indicators for job satisfaction. For example, almost every supply chain professional ASCM surveyed (88%) said their company provides paid holidays, 78% have at least three weeks of paid time off (PTO) available to them, and 44% enjoy more than three weeks of PTO.
The survey also found that 64% of supply chain professionals have access to paid family or medical leave, 74% are offered short-term disability benefits, and 64% have access to long-term disability benefits. It’s noteworthy that people who are given PTO for caregiving are more likely to return to their jobs and stay longer, according to New America.
“When Accenture extended its paid maternity leave from 8 weeks to 16 weeks, attrition among mothers dropped by 40%,” New America’s research found. “And when Aetna expanded its maternity leave, the share of women returning to work jumped from 77 to 91%. Higher retention benefits hold true for low-wage workers as well.”
One benefit that shows the supply chain industry was ahead of its time is the ability to work from home. During the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work became commonplace — and a necessity — among nearly all industries. When this survey was conducted, that was not yet the case. Yet, more than half (52%) of supply chain professionals surveyed told ASCM they were able to work remotely or from home. In fact, 8% of professionals reported working from home are full time. The supply chain industry is one that changes with the times, letting employees work as flexibly as modern technology allows. In the coming months and years, as the repercussions of the pandemic and its effects on workplaces are better understood, supply chain professionals will undoubtedly have a much different view of the benefits of remote work, and the practice may become even more widespread.
As for insurance, likely the most important benefit for many American workers, nearly all supply chain professionals surveyed said they have access to health, dental, vision and life insurance programs subsidized by their employers. Overall, 79% of supply chain professionals say they are satisfied with their benefits.
EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR COLLEGE GRADUATES
The number of young supply chain professionals who study the field before starting their careers is on the rise. Over the past decade, an increasing number of schools have begun offering supply chain as a major, such as bachelor’s degrees in supply chain management, logistics and operations. Clearly, universities are seeing the benefits of having a supply chain program and are recruiting and retaining students to the field accordingly.
When the survey was completed, finding a supply chain job was not difficult for graduates. More than one-third of college graduates (37%) reported finding a job in the supply chain industry less than a month after graduation. Another 23% said they found a job one-to-six months after graduation. The national average for time spent securing a job after graduation, for all industries, was five months.
The relative ease of finding a job in the field also extended beyond recent graduates: One-third of all supply chain professionals said they found their current job in less than one month, an important indicator for employment opportunities for seasoned professionals in the field who want to move into management, relocate to another city or change focus within the industry.
The current recession will undoubtedly have an impact on these numbers; yet, at the same time, it has underscored the importance of supply chains and talented industry professionals.
THE CRUCIAL ROLE OF SUPPLY CHAIN
Although the world economy is currently entering a recession and unemployment in soaring, the field of supply chain is a necessary one. Whether people are able to move freely in their communities or are stuck in their homes, they still need food and other essential products provided by the supply chain. Professionals who are able to navigate these logistical puzzles are vital.
Nevertheless, as the consequences of the pandemic continue to reverberate around the economy, going forward, the availability of jobs isn’t a given. Supply chain leaders may be wondering if they should cut staff or reduce hiring in these difficult times. ASCM’s research would urge these professionals instead to turn to mentoring and training the next generation of supply chain professionals now. Despite economic uncertainty, it is an essential investment in the future of the industry. The supply chain talent gap was already well documented; without encouraging growth in the entry-level positions, the industry may undergo disastrous results in the coming years.
While the immediate future of the global economy is unknown, there will unquestionably be a demand for knowledgeable, experienced professionals. Now might be an excellent time to teach employees the technical and leadership skills that managers report looking for; offer certifications and virtual training; encourage professional development; and seek ways to build upon existing talent in order to guarantee a healthy supply chain in the future. One thing is clear: Once someone is established in the field, they are likely to be happy to stay there for a long time.