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How to Become a Materials Manager

Any company that wants to remain relevant must have excellent logistics. In order to make a sale, customers expect goods, and in order to work, the company staff needs equipment and supplies. It’s paramount to make sure that these needs are met in order for a business to remain healthy. 

Materials managers ensure an ideal inventory with their excellent forecasting skills. By establishing procedures, creating reports, keeping an eye on pricing, and working closely with suppliers, these managers can effectively maintain stock of vital goods and supplies. This further ensures that staff can work unimpeded, and customers can obtain the goods they’re seeking.

As a materials manager, you’ll be expected to use and understand logistical tools and software, create and follow purchasing procedures, and do inventory checks to maintain accurate levels of stock. Having excellent interpersonal skills to build relationships, and strong analytical and forecasting skills are a plus.

Sample job description

Materials managers maintain ideal levels of materials and supplies to ensure optimal working conditions and customer satisfaction. They establish procedures, monitor prices, and maintain relationships with suppliers. Are you excellent at anticipating and forecasting needs? Do you have great logistical understanding to keep shelves stocked and supplies on hand? If so, apply to our newest open materials manager position! These managers use logistic tools, physical inventory checks, and follow purchasing procedures and specifications to accomplish their jobs. They strive to make sure all departments receive supplies and materials accurately, reliably, and for a good price.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Purchase raw materials and supplies according to project specifications
  • Negotiate purchasing agreements with vendors
  • Oversee procedures for receiving and storing raw materials
  • Maintain inventory levels to ensure projects finish on deadline
  • Search for new materials, vendors, and processes to ensure optimum quality, value and reliability
  • Supervise and maintain the physical inventory of materials
  • Ensure materials acquisition and storage comply with company and government guidelines
  • Supervise, evaluate and coach staff members
  • Maintain inventory records

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in logistics or a related field, experience managing team members, and knowledge of supply chain maintenance.

Required skills and qualifications

  • In-depth knowledge of supply chain and inventory management systems
  • Hands-on experience with forecasting and budgeting
  • Excellent organization and time-management skills
  • Analytical thinking with problem-solving aptitude
  • Outstanding communication and leadership skills

Preferred qualifications

  • 2-year degree preferably in industrial or quality engineering
  • Experience working in a manufacturing environment
  • Proficiency with MS Office suite of applications

Typical work environment

Materials managers will find themselves in a variety of different work conditions. However, they will spend some time at a desk in front of a computer. Some amount of time working seated in front of the monitor should be expected. Physical inspections of inventory in a variety of locations, oftentimes in a warehouse environment, is likely. Meeting with managers to discuss and coordinate the needs of departments should be expected as well.

Typical hours

Most materials managers work from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday.

Available certifications

As materials managers work in a variety of industries, there are many institutions that offer certifications, including:

  • Certified in Production and Inventory Management. The CPIM demonstrates the holder’s proven knowledge and skills to intentionally and strategically make operations more streamlined. This certification is for those that have some experience in a logistics and inventory management position and requires renewal every 5 years.
  • Certified Supply Chain Professional. The CSCP teaches key strategies for improving customer service while increasing efficiency with the supply chain and logistics operation. The American Society of Transportation and Logistics offers this course and exam to demonstrate an entry-level understanding of knowledge and training for those wishing to enter this field.
  • Certified Security Supervision and Management. The program provided by the International Foundation for Protection Officers isn’t directly useful for a position in logistics, supply chain management, or warehouse inventory. This certification provides the groundwork necessary to teach managers how to respond to several common workplace emergency events that require immediate and direct management action. While it won’t move you into a more logistical field, it will help round out your general skills as a manager.

Career path

A bachelor’s degree in logistics or a related field is required to become a Materials Manager. Many companies also need materials manager candidates to have experience managing team members and knowledge of supply chain maintenance. Successful materials managers can often progress into higher management positions, perhaps supervising logistics for an entire division or region in large companies.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 11-3061

2020 Employment74,400
Projected Employment in 203079,000
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 6% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift4,600 increase

According to the industry website Materials Handling & Logistics, a shortage of qualified workers and increasing competition for labor are two key trends in the materials manager field. Because of the deficit, industry thought leaders say companies will have to look at adjusting salaries for some positions to stay competitive. They’ll also have to make changes to the company’s culture to remain attractive to prospective employees.

The increasing use of cloud-based software for materials management is another trend in the field. More companies are using cloud-hosted systems for things like warehouse management and transportation management. This process allows companies to update workers on warehouse inventory in real-time, increasing efficiency in managing the supply chain, and getting materials out to project sites on time.