Materials planners manage the logistics of materials and inventory during projects. Materials planning is a pragmatic role emphasizing industry knowledge over academic credentials, and experience and specific certifications are the typical routes to advancement in this career. Job growth is expected to be slow over the next few years, with median salaries in the low $50,000s.
Materials planners receive project plans and information from other departments and use this information to determine what materials will be needed and when. Other administrative tasks vary by employer but may include managing inventory or coordinating supplier payments with accounting or purchasing departments. In addition to a high school diploma, materials planners are often expected to have knowledge of the industry in which they are working and the nature of the materials used in the business; a college degree and/or professional certification can improve employability or career advancement.
|Required Education||High school diploma or equivalent; some employers may require a relevant undergraduate degree, such as in supply chain management or business|
|Other Requirements||Voluntary professional certification|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||2% (production, planning, and expediting clerks)|
|Median Annual Salary (2015)**||$51,376 for entry-level jobs|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com
Education and Certification Requirements
Employers expect materials planners to have at least a high school diploma; however, higher-paid positions often require an associate's or a bachelor's degree. Some employers specify desirable majors, which may include business, supply chain management, or finance. In addition, some employers may also want their materials planners to have training in Six Sigma or other quality management protocols.
Many employers require materials planners to hold some type of professional certification, such as the Association for Operations Management's Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) designation. To earn the CPIM, an individual must have at least two years of on-the-job experience and pass a series of five exams. Candidates for certification are not required to hold a college degree, although those who earn the CPIM designation must complete professional development activities, such as continuing education classes, to maintain their certification.
Salary.com reported in September 2016 that entry-level materials planners earned a median salary of $51,376. The website also reported that intermediate materials planners earned a median annual salary of $59,086, while senior-level planners earned $73,149 during the same time period.
Materials planners are projected to have a low job growth rate, and experience contributes to significant salary differences. Although a college degree is not typically a requirement, a degree and certifications are an excellent way to stay competitive.