How to Become an Inventory Management Specialist

Learn how to become an inventory management specialist. Research the job description, education, and certification requirements to find out how to start a career in inventory management. View article »

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Video Transcript

Inventory Management Specialist Duties

Inventory management specialists work in supply chain management with distribution employees to improve product productivity in large warehouses. They implement sound management practices to maximize worker efficiency while maintaining safety standards and understand warehouse management software and picking-packing equipment.

Common job tasks include monitoring physical inventory, overseeing inbound and outbound shipments, and investigating discrepancies. Inventory management specialists must also have the ability to identify issues in warehousing or delivery processes and communicate ideas for improvement.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Fields Finance, accounting, or business
Experience 2+ years warehousing and/or inventory control
Key Skills Written and verbal communication, multitasking, data analysis, and problem-solving skills; attention to detail; use of Microsoft Office (Excel, Access, PowerPoint and Word), database software, and inventory management software; operation of fork lifts and pallet jacks
Salary $74,260 (2015 median salary for all logisticians)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Inventory management specialists need written and verbal communication skills, an attention to detail, and the ability to multitask. They should also know how to do data analysis and solve problems. They should know how to use Microsoft Office (including Excel, Access, PowerPoint and Word), database software, and inventory management software, as well as operate forklifts and pallet jacks. The median salary for all logisticians was $74,260 in May 2015 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Inventory Management Specialist Steps

Step 1: Earn a Degree

While a high school diploma or G.E.D. may be sufficient for some employers, others prefer that inventory management specialists possess a minimum of an associate's degree in a business-related specialty such as finance or accounting. These programs typically include core classes in math, accounting, economics, and business fundamentals, as well as elective coursework in project management, leadership, human resources, communication, and problem solving. Alternately, degree programs specializing in the industrial distribution field are available and primarily cover topics such as industrial production processes, business, warehouse management, and product distribution.

Success Tip:

It's also helpful to participate in an internship. In addition to coursework, many schools offer internships for credit for students attending a college degree program. These programs can also provide students with real-world experience and skills in their field that can be used after graduation.

Step 2: Gain Work Experience

Employers often require that inventory management specialists have prior work experience. Aspiring inventory specialists can gain this experience working in entry-level or supervisory roles in a warehouse. These roles can help employees gain familiarity with picking-packing procedures and standard warehouse equipment such as pallet jacks and forklifts. Experience can also provide an understanding of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations used to ensure safe working practices across the industry.

Success Tip:

It's helpful to become familiar with warehouse management and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software. Many large, corporate-owned warehouses track inventory using wireless barcode scanners and touch-screen computers attached to pallet jacks and forklifts used by employees. Increasingly, the warehouse management software used in these computers is being integrated with company-wide ERP software suites such as SAP Enterprise Resource Planning and Oracle Corporation's E-Business Suite. ERP software suites can help streamline distribution by minimizing and optimizing product movement in distribution centers, as well as track and evaluate employee performance. Aspiring inventory control supervisors utilize these suites in order to perform day-to-day management functions efficiently and help train new employees in the correct use of scanning equipment and data entry.

Step 3: Attain Certification

Certification may not be required as a condition of employment, but may be helpful, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Association for Operations Management (formerly the American Production and Inventory Control Society; still abbreviated as APICS) offers the Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) certification that teaches essential management concepts, strategies, and terms. Managers can learn techniques to make supply chains more efficient and optimize inventory control to maximize profitability.

Certification requires candidates to pass exams in module areas such as basic supply chain management, procurement, purchasing, and materials management. Exams are administered via computer-based testing, and the APICS offers various review courses, workshops, and publications for self-study.

Those certified must complete specified professional development activities every three years to maintain certification. Managers can also take a single recertification exam that combines questions on the five modules in case their certification expires.


To review what we have learned, inventory management specialists are preferred to have an associate's degree in a business field, some experience in warehousing or inventory control, and computer skills.

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