Inventory Manager: Job Description & Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an inventory manager. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Inventory managers are responsible for recording and ordering supplies, products, and materials for businesses both small and large. People with strong organizational and record-keeping skills may be a good fit for a career in inventory management. Becoming an inventory manager generally entails completion of a bachelor's degree program. Managers may also benefit from completing graduate coursework and earning certification.

Required Education Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Voluntary certification
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 4%
Average Salary (2014) $111,810

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Inventory Manager Job Description

Inventory managers monitor available supplies, materials, and products in order to ensure that customers and employees have access to the materials they need. Inventory managers may work for large corporations that sell products to the general public or for smaller businesses that store required goods for service technicians. For example, an inventory manager may monitor the aisles in a grocery store to make sure that shelves are stocked for customers. Another inventory manager may maintain a set number of automotive parts for a group of repair shops.

Job Duties

Most inventory managers maintain daily records of shipments and invoices to see what products need to be replenished. While some managers track inventory by making lists, most use supply chain or inventory management software. These programs calculate a monthly or seasonal demand for materials and may even place computer-generated orders.

Inventory managers may also be responsible for using mathematical models to forecast future stock needs. For instance, new construction projects may require that supply-house inventory managers order parts that were previously not stocked. Inventory managers may study sales numbers, construction supply needs and vendor availabilities to come up with an estimated amount of product to maintain.

Requirements for Becoming an Inventory Manager

Typically, a career in inventory management requires a four-year bachelor's degree. Students may choose from a variety of applicable majors, including supply chain management and business administration. Bachelor's degree programs in supply chain management, for example, usually cover topics ranging from productivity to logistics. Students may also use computer models to simulate inventory management or distribution mechanisms.

Upper-level inventory managers may also be required to complete some advanced coursework. Most colleges and universities offer graduate certificate or master's degree programs in operations or supply chain management. Additionally, as companies increase the role of computers and automation in the inventory management process, students may benefit from supplementing their education with courses in information technology.

Certification Requirements

The Association for Operations Management (APICS) offers voluntary certification programs to qualified inventory managers (www.apics.org). These professionals may consider pursuing the Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) designation. Earning the CPIM designation entails successfully completing five qualifying exams. Once certified, professionals must accumulate points by taking continuing education courses and participating in other APICS-approved activities to maintain certification.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) categorizes inventory managers among varying types of purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents. The Bureau predicts that the employment of such managers, buyers, and agents will grow by only 4% between 2012 and 2022. The average annual salary earned by purchasing managers was $111,810 in May 2014, per the BLS.

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