Graduates of inventory distribution management programs pursue entry-level employment to executive positions. Individuals must apply to a community college or vocational school and choose a major in business logistics before they can take courses towards earning an associate's degree in the field. For associate's degree programs, applicants must be high school graduates and 17 years of age. A bachelor's degree program in industrial distribution provides students with an understanding of the basics of logistics, inventory management, manufacturing, business information systems, and materials management. Students expand their managerial skills including coursework in distribution and inventory strategies as well as purchasing and materials management. Bachelor's degree programs in industrial distribution are offered by 4-year colleges and universities, which require incoming freshmen to hold a high school diploma and on average a 2.0 grade point average.
Current managers aspiring to executive positions benefit from enrolling in a master's program, where they study advanced global distribution and quality assurance topics. Programs are designed for working warehouse, supply chain, and logistics managers interested in moving up into executive or upper-level management positions. Students are required to have a baccalaureate degree before they can enroll in a master's degree program in industrial distribution. Applicants submit GRE scores, letters of recommendation and a resume detailing their professional experience in the field. Many graduate programs offer their courses online to accommodate the schedules of working professionals.
Associate of Science in Business Logistics
A distribution manager works to oversee the logistics, purchasing agreements, and distribution of goods (or inventory) taking place within the warehousing divisions of manufacturing and industrial businesses. While there are no 2-year degree programs with the specific title of inventory management, some schools do offer associate's degrees in logistics providing some insight into the field. An associate's degree program focusing on logistics provides students with an understanding of how to store, process and distribute inventory. Programs prepare graduates to earn technical and managerial jobs in the supply chain divisions of manufacturing businesses.
The courses included within an associate's degree program provide students with a practical introduction to supply chain management, warehouse management, inventory management, and distribution. Courses include:
- Business communications
- Introduction to business
- Principles of supply chain management
- Inventory and distribution management
- U.S. customs regulations
Bachelor of Science in Industrial Distribution
Students enrolled in a degree program in industrial distribution gain the technical and practical skills necessary to manage the warehousing and distribution of goods for a particular business. The skills earned allow graduates to take positions as distribution managers in several types of industries, including electronics, petrochemicals, plastics, metals, and safety equipment industries. Students also learn the basics of management, business communication, and supply chain management. Some degree programs in industrial distribution allow students to concentrate on a particular aspect of the field to train for a more specific position, such as sales manager, communications manager, or materials purchasing manager.
Many programs focus on management and allow students to transfer credits over from associate's degree programs in logistics and manufacturing programs. Many courses found within a degree program in inventory and distribution management cover the practical policies and business strategies involved in working in a warehouse environment and overseeing large crews of employees. Specific courses include:
- Wholesale distribution
- Industrial business basics
- Distribution and profit/inventory strategies
- Purchasing and materials management
- Business communication
- Wholesale account development
Master of Science in Industrial Distribution
Some universities and colleges offer graduate programs in industrial distribution. The curriculum included in master's degree programs provides managers with an insight into how business decisions are made and prepares them to make those decisions. Courses focus on advanced business concepts and principles as they relate specifically to the fields of distribution and inventory management. Examples include:
- Issues in industrial distribution
- Quality assurance
- Industrial distribution networks
- Global distribution
- Distribution technology management
- Profitability analysis
Popular Career Options
Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in industrial distribution often have the same career opportunities as graduates from an associate's degree program in the field. Most can go on to earn management positions in the warehousing and logistics divisions of several companies. Some specific types of positions available include:
- Warehouse manager
- Distribution manager
- Sales manager
- Inventory manager
- Distributor branch manger
Graduates of a master's degree program in industrial distribution are often eligible to apply for upper-level management jobs overseeing entire distribution departments and divisions. Possible career titles available for graduates include:
- Vice president of logistics
- Operations and distribution executive
- Chief operating officer
- Vice president of supply chain management
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), growth for transportation, storage, and distribution managers is projected to be slower than average at 2% during the 2014-2024 decade (www.bls.gov). The mean annual wage for this profession was $95,130 in May 2015, reported the BLS. Those working in the warehousing and storage industry earned a mean wage of $88,290.
Certification is not typically required in the fields of industrial distribution, logistics, warehouse management or supply chain management. However, job seekers looking to gain an edge in the marketplace might consider obtaining certification from the Institute for Supply Management or the Association for Operations Management.
Coursework for distribution management degree programs typically includes learning business communications, transportation and management skills. Graduates of undergraduate degree programs may find work as warehouse and distribution managers, while graduate degree programs may lead to work in upper-level management.