There are many certificate programs in supply chain management offered online at both the professional and graduate levels. Professional certificate programs are for individuals who work in the field and wish to increase their knowledge and standing. Graduate certificate programs are more advanced academic programs for individuals who hold bachelor's degrees.
These certificate programs usually require about a year to complete, and most can be executed totally through online study. Courses cover topics such as sales trends, purchasing systems, and building business relationships. Students learn about transportation, warehousing, and distribution.
Many professional organizations offer certification in supply chain management. Often, the credits earned through a certificate program can be applied to continuing education requirements needed to maintain professional certification in this field.
Certificates in Supply Chain Management
Supply chain managers must be experts on the goods and services they acquire, and they need to be familiar with methods for getting the best quality products at the lowest possible price. Online courses teach students to identify, analyze, and anticipate sales trends and how to find reliable merchandise sources. Both traditional purchasing systems and e-procurement are explored and evaluated, as are the safe handling and transportation of goods. Since effective relationships are a vital part of the supply manager's job, students learn leadership skills, with an in-depth focus on successful negotiating.
Both graduate and professional certificates are offered online. Graduate certificate courses require a bachelor's degree to enroll. Professional certificates are geared towards people who already work in the purchasing arena and wish to advance their careers.
Program Information and Requirements
Programs vary in length, from two semesters to a year. Most online supply chain management courses are offered through streaming video and can be studied at the student's own pace within the quarter or semester offered. Teachers work with students via e-mail, phone, Web conferencing, and discussion boards.
Students need a computer with high-speed Internet connection, an e-mail account, a printer, and possibly a Web camera and headphones. A Web browser is required, in addition to Adobe Acrobat Reader and free plug-ins, such as RealPlayer, or Flash Player. Courses may also require the purchase of special software and textbooks. In some instances, students have online access to their school's libraries and technical support.
The breadth of course topics reflects the diversity of knowledge and skills that supply chain managers must integrate into their work. Interactive classes, discussions, and projects help students gain a sense of what the job holds in the real world.
Supply Chain Management Introduction
This distance-learning course focuses on the fundamental concepts of managing supply chains, beginning with production, sourcing, and distribution. Students examine methods for analyzing and predicting trends, along with leadership and collaboration. They also discuss the organizational role of the supply chain manager.
Negotiation is one of a supply chain manager's most crucial skills. Online students learn negotiating tactics, social behavior, how cultures differ in negotiation processes, ethics, and communications. Students explore the concept of power in win-win and win-lose scenarios.
Students learn why effective purchasing is critical to an organization. Purchasing systems, such as e-procurement, business-to-business, and business-to-consumer, are evaluated for their strengths and weaknesses. Case studies and online discussions are used to develop strategies for successful sourcing relationships.
Transportation and Distribution
Effective management of logistics and transportation is important along the whole supply chain. Through lectures, research projects, and online discussions, this course examines the chain from customer order to delivery, including national and global transporting methods, warehousing operations, inventory, and distribution.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for purchasing managers was expected to increase at a below average rate from 2014-2024, at about 1% (www.bls.gov). The median annual wage for purchasing managers in May 2015 was $108,120. This figure includes managers working in federal and local government, enterprises and companies, the aerospace industry, and various wholesale and retail product industries. In addition to a salary and standard benefits, supply chain managers may also receive merchandise discounts and bonuses based on performance.
Continuing Education Information
This profession requires continuing education for career advancement, either through college courses or professional associations. Some companies and organizations favor those who hold a bachelor's or master's degree in business, engineering, or an applied science. Professionals can also earn different credentials, such as the Certified Supply Chain Professional given by the Association for Operations Management.
Taking place over two semesters to a year, bachelor's educated students can enroll in supply chain management graduate certificates, preparing them for professional certification and work in various different industries as purchasing managers. To maintain professional certification, students will need to participate in continuing education courses.