Career Definition for an Inventory Analyst
Inventory analysts are operations research analysts who work in the retail, wholesale, and distribution sectors, where they may be called purchasing managers, and in manufacturing, where they maximize production by keeping the right materials on hand to maximize industrial production. They are responsible for allocating resources by keeping abreast of business trends and forecasting future sales. They may deal directly with vendors and may seek out new ones; they may also supervise purchasing agents and develop new inventory systems.
|Education||Bachelor's or master's degree|
|Job Skills||Strong communication and organizational skills, able to make decisions, and knowledgeable with computer software|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$83,390 (for operations research analysts)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||27% (for operations research analysts)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
There's more than one path into this field; retail employers may favor the applicant with sales, stockroom or buying experience, knowledge of the company's merchandise, and a 4-year bachelor's degree in a field such as supply chain management, business administration or marketing. Manufacturers tend to stress formal education, ranging from a bachelor's degree in engineering, economics or applied science to a master's degree in engineering or business, which generally takes two years of graduate studies. Useful courses include accounting, business law, industrial engineering, negotiations, and database design; those wanting more specific training may consider a production and inventory management certificate from the Association for Operations Management (www.apics.org).
Inventory analysts need strong speaking, writing, analytical, and organizational skills. They must be able to work independently and make crucial decisions. They must also be adept with computer software, especially databases and spreadsheets.
Economic and Career Outlook
The best opportunities in this arena will be granted to the best-educated workers; the career outlook varies by industry and type of position. For example, the median annual salary for operations research analysts, including those who work as inventory analysts, was $83,390 in May of 2018, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov); the median annual salary for industrial production managers, including those who worked as inventory analysts, was $103,380 that same year.
The BLS also reports that employment growth for operations research analysts is predicted to be 27% from 2016-2026. Industrial production managers are expected to see employment opportunities decline 1% during that same decade.
Alternate Career Options
Similar careers to an inventory analyst include:
Market Research Analyst
A market research analyst develops data collection methods to gather information about consumers and competitors and then carries out that work; he or she analyzes this data for decision-making purposes related to a company's sales and marketing activities. This occupation requires a bachelor's degree in market research or a related field like statistics or computer science; previous relevant experience is also often desired by employers. Market research analysts can also earn the voluntary Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) credential. The BLS predicts that jobs in this field will increase 23% from 2016-2026; the median pay for market research analysts was $63,120 in 2018.
Management analysts look for ways to make a company run more efficiently. They gather information to get a full picture of the organization - from activities to finances and more - and then offer suggestions for change based on what a company's goals are. This job usually requires a bachelor's or master's degree in business administration. Some management analysts hold the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) credential. The BLS predicts that jobs in this field will increase by 14% from 2016-2026. Management analysts earned median pay of $83,610 in 2018.