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Supply Chain Manager Career: How Does It Differ from an Operations Manager?


How They're Alike
These two job titles are often used interchangeably and while they do indeed share many common traits, they each have a set of roles and purposes that are entirely unique. Some of the confusion stems from the fact that the two career fields are interdependent with each other. While that may be true, a supply chain manager career would be considered a subset of an operations manager career because it is just one part of the entire production operation. But they do share a similar end goal: to enhance the bottom line by reducing costs and increasing efficiency. How they achieve this is very different, nonetheless.

Operations Management is Internally-focused

Operations management focuses primarily upon activities that happen within a company's walls to manufacture a product or service. This includes formulating policies, managing the daily operations and workflow, overseeing workers, and participating in the design, planning and the physical production of the product. In short, it's the giant bucket that contains all of the smaller buckets of jobs necessary to complete the goal.

[Related reading: More about Operations Management]

Supply Chain Management Is Externally Focused

Supply chain managers work with external partners to procure parts and raw materials needed to produce the product, create the inventory, and sell the product to outside markets. These professionals evaluate suppliers and negotiate contracts with vendors. Because this role is a vital necessity, you can see why supply chain management lives under the umbrella of operations management. Without materials, there are no products to manage and no need for workers to make the products.

The Careers at a Glance

Let's take a look at some of the basics for the two careers:

Supply Chain Manager/Logistician
Degree needed:
Bachelor's Degree
Median Annual Salary:
Job Growth:
30% through 2030, much faster than average
Operations Manager/Executive
Degree needed:
Bachelor's Degree; Master's Degree or MBA Preferred
Median Annual Salary:
Job Growth:
9% through 2030, about average

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' 2020 Occupational Outlook Handbook; the salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.