Beginning a career path in supply chain engineering, automation and facility operations
Supply chain technicians, also called automation technicians, are in demand across many industry sectors and provide an excellent opportunity to launch a career in the growing supply chain technology field. If you enjoy hands-on work, are detail-oriented, like to problem-solve, know the fundamentals of math, and excel at oral and written communication, this pathway is worth exploring. In addition to a high school diploma, certification programs will provide the curriculum and skill-development needed for this career path.
There will be as many as 770,000 job openings for technicians in the U.S. between 2015 and 2025. Ultimately, a supply chain tech keeps inventory flowing smoothly in and out of storage spaces for industries, including retail, manufacturing, healthcare, food supply, automotive, and defense.
Companies such as Amazon, FedEx, UPS, Target, and Walmart all use supply chain technology in conjunction with automated equipment and systems to efficiently and effectively move and deliver the everyday goods you use. Supply chain technicians are essential to the team because they ensure the success of these operations.
What Is This Crucial Position in the Supply Chain?
What is a supply chain technician?
This person is crucial to facility engineering and logistics operations because they install, operate, support, maintain, and upgrade the automated material-handling equipment and systems which support the supply chain.
The various equipment, machinery, hardware, and software in supply chain technology consists of devices such as optical scanners, conveyor systems, automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS), programmable logic controllers (PLC), radio frequency identification (RFID), sensors, robotics, database management systems, inventory control systems, and local area networks.
Occupations in supply chain technology include automation technician, multi-craft technician, industrial machinery mechanic, electro-mechanical technician, conveyor systems technician, electronics engineering technologist, robotics technician, and hospital supply chain technician.
The supply chain technician salary in the U.S. ranges between $18 and $30 per hour, with benefits, for entry-level employees who possess relevant certifications and little or no experience. Wages increase with experience from $25 to $40+ per hour, depending on where you live. The most senior technicians with 5 years of one the job experience can make up to $48 per hour with full benefits. Maintenance leaders with the right experience, leadership ability and attitude can make over $150,000 per year.
Where to Begin: Paths to Entry-Level Supply Chain Tech Positions
A combination of professional certifications, such as the MSSC Certified Technician – Supply Chain Automation, and technical degree programs are needed to secure a job as a supply chain technician. Some of the key foundational skills needed to become a supply chain technician include:
- Critical thinking
- Manual dexterity
- Problem solving
- Material handling flow
- Safety standards
- Blueprint (schematic) reading
- Electrical and electronics
- Programmable logic controllers
- Motor controls
- Scanners (optics)
- Fundamentals of mathematics