What is a Supply Chain Analyst? (And How To Become One) 2023 UPDATE

What is a Supply Chain Analyst?


As corporations and organizations operate on a global scale, demands on supply chains have increased dramatically, with the value of international trade rising from $19 trillion to $32 trillion between 2019 and 2023. The need for efficient, fast, cheap, and fault-tolerant logistics has created opportunities and jobs. Especially when you’re working on a scale in the billions, even fractional-cent savings per transaction can have huge downstream impacts.

Creating scalable global logistics systems is a very difficult task, and it takes a team of highly skilled professionals to execute effectively. One crucial part of this team is the supply chain analyst.

Put simply, supply chain analysts use the power of data to improve logistics. Becoming a supply chain analyst requires a range of technical and soft skills, as well as experience in the supply chain industry. At the end of the day though, the role helps companies ensure that their supply and consumer demand are being matched effectively.

In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about the role of a supply chain analyst, as well as the required skills to perform the role successfully, the career outlook, and the main industries hiring supply chain analysts.

What does a Supply Chain Analyst do?

supply chain analyst

As an analytics-first role, supply chain analysts mainly handle data gathering and analysis. This can manifest in a number of ways, such as identifying data sources and analyzing data trends. A supply chain analyst uses data-driven methods to recommend new ways of storing, producing, supplying, and delivering products. However, they can also work in the logistical side of things and help solve issues that may come up in the supply chain process.

Data management and analytics is the new kid on the block when it comes to supply chain and operations management (OPMA), which is why many companies face challenges when specifying tasks and responsibilities for supply chain analysts. That said, working as a supply chain analyst generally involves:

  • Demand forecasting: analyzing historical sales data, researching market trends, understanding customer behavior, and building statistical models for demand forecasting.
  • Inventory optimization: analyzing inventory levels, stockouts, and customer demand patterns to ensure supply always meets the demand.
  • Supplier performance evaluation: assessing supplier performance through analyzing factors to ensure on-time delivery, resolution of quality issues, and analyzing key times and cost variations.
  • Transportation and logistics optimization: analyzing transportation costs, delivery times, and carrier performance to optimize transportation and logistics operations.
  • Cost analysis: analyzing costs involved with procurement, inventory holding, transportation, and other supply chain activities. Based on the analysis, supply chain analysts develop savings initiatives such as consolidating purchases, optimizing inventory levels, and negotiating better pricing with partners. One example of conducting a cost analysis is to compare the savings achieved through centralized versus decentralized procurement.

Supply Chain Analyst Real-World Example

To better understand the role of a supply chain analyst, let’s try to visualize the job description with a real-world example.


Claire, a supply chain analyst for a global ecommerce company, starts her day by reviewing reports that detail inventory levels, shipment statuses, demand forecasts, and vendor performance metrics from multiple warehouses worldwide. One day, she notices an abnormal increase in delivery times and a performance score drop from a main supplier in China.


Analyzing the root cause of the issue, Claire discovers that the supplier is struggling with increased demand, leading to missed deadlines. Rather than simply adding more suppliers at random, which could increase costs and risk quality, Claire proposes strategically diversifying the supplier network across several countries to reduce geographic reliance and mitigate future disruptions.


She presents her findings to senior management and recommends implementing a real-time supplier monitoring system for proactive alerts of any failure in meeting benchmarks. Her strategic solution and clear communication earn management’s approval.


Over the subsequent months, Claire executes the new strategy, oversees new supplier onboarding, coordinates with IT for the monitoring system implementation, and tracks the impact of these changes on their supply chain performance. This demonstrates how a supply chain analyst like Claire can maintain smooth operations and resilience in a global ecommerce company.

Is Supply Chain Analyst an Entry-Level Position?

The role of a supply chain analyst is typically considered a mid-level position in most organizations. Individuals in this position are usually expected to have a certain degree of experience and understanding of logistics, operations, or related fields. This is due to the complex nature of the work involved, which often includes tasks like data analysis, optimization of supply chain processes, and strategic decision-making.

While uncommon, some companies may offer entry-level supply chain analyst roles. These positions might be available for those who have recently graduated but have relevant coursework, internships, or co-op experience in supply chain or logistics. It’s also possible that a company might provide extensive on-the-job training to fill such a role, with the expectation that the hire will ramp into a mid-level position at the company later on in their career.

Supply Chain Analyst Education Requirements

Data-driven professions, such as supply chain analysis, place a high value on a robust educational foundation. If this field piques your interest, here’s what you need to know about the role’s educational prerequisites:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: There are quite a few degree fields that feed into global supply chain analysis. Some include: Mathematics, Statistics, Logistics, Business Management, Operations, Business Analytics, and Industrial Engineering.
  • Relevant Experience: Real-world experience can set you apart. Whether it’s project management or analyst roles acquired through internships or previous positions, this hands-on knowledge can be a strong asset.
  • Certifications: Consider earning a certification in supply chain management or another relevant area. These credentials can serve as concrete evidence of your domain knowledge within the supply chain.

By examining publicly available employee data, we are able to identify the educational breakdown of supply chain analysts:

education supply chain analysts

Skills Required to Become a Supply Chain Analyst

In such a diverse position, narrowing down the required skills is a chore. However, here are bare essentials that you should have for your supply chain analytics role. For the sake of clarity, we will partition them into three sections: essential, technical, and soft skills.

Essential Skills

Essential skills are the skills that each supply chain analyst should have, regardless of which profession he transitioned from:

  • Microsoft Office Suite.
  • Familiarity with ERP systems such as SAP.
  • Robust understanding of the relational data model and experience with SQL queries.
  • Experience with supply chain processes and management.
  • Data visualization tools such as Excel, Tableau, and Power BI.

Technical Skills

A good supply chain analyst will also need technical skills in their role. We made a list of those skills that recruiters prefer when hiring a supply chain analyst:

  • Data analysis: Collecting, manipulating, and analyzing data to optimize supply chain processes. Recognizing problems and finding solutions to make the company’s supply chain more efficient.
  • Mathematics: Proficiency in math, including concepts like probability, statistics, and linear algebra. This skill is vital for tasks in logistics, automation, predictive analysis, and inventory management.
  • Quantitative analysis: Strong analytical skills to process and interpret large volumes of data, facilitate informed decision-making, and make inventory management more effective.
  • Project Management: Experience in managing different projects within supply chain management. This includes leading a team and handling various aspects of a project.

Soft Skills

Supply chain analysts need more than just technical skills; they must also possess soft skills that enable smooth interactions and effective process management within various aspects of the supply chain. Here’s a summary of these key soft skills:

  • Teamwork: Collaborating effectively with various teams is central to a supply chain analyst’s role. As the glue that holds the data and the logistics departments, it is key that a supply chain analyst values and strives for teamwork.
  • Breaking Down Technical Data: The ability to translate complex technical concepts into understandable terms for non-technical stakeholders is vital. Supply chain analysts often liaise with individuals who may not have a background in data or analytics. Thus, clear and concise communication, tailored to the audience’s level of understanding, is essential. Whether discussing warehouse management, inventory levels, or broader supply chain strategy, the analyst must articulate their findings in a way that resonates with everyone involved.

Other soft skills that a supply chain analyst will require on the job include negotiation skills, effective communication, and organization.

What Does it Take to Transition into Supply Chain Analysis?


Transitioning into a supply chain analyst role still does not happen overnight. There are three scenarios you might face coming into the role:

  • If you’re starting from a related field, you likely already have a relevant bachelor’s degree, and transitioning might not be that difficult a task. Focus on the domains of logistics and data analytics to quickly acclimate. With those out of the way, it would take less than a year to finish the transition.
  • If you’re aiming for a more specialized role, the transition phase might be extended, but not insurmountable.
  • The hardest transition will be for those coming from a non-relevant role, such as humanities or health sciences. For some, you might need to return for a bachelor’s degree with the relevant studies, which can take three to four years to re-complete. There are areas of crossover however, social sciences often have methodology courses that you can refer back to as you build a relevant skillset. In the case that you still want to transition, it is highly advisable to first switch to an intermediary role such as data analyst, which has more demand and a lower knowledge barrier, as a stepping-stone to supply chain analytics.

For anyone looking to break into the field, regardless of prior experience, here are four ways to bolster your resume in the hiring process:

1. Internships and Entry-Level Positions

Gaining experience in logistics, procurement, or other related areas through internships or entry-level positions will provide hands-on knowledge and strengthen your resume.

2. Networking

Join industry groups and attend conferences to network with professionals in the field. LinkedIn groups related to supply chain management can also provide connections and insights.

networking supply chain analyst

3. Build A Portfolio

Document any relevant projects, case studies, or accomplishments that demonstrate your ability to analyze and optimize supply chain processes. Here are some supply chain datasets that you might start working with.

4. Talk With Recruiters

Consider engaging with recruiters specializing in supply chain roles. They may have insights into companies that are willing to hire those with less experience.

Supply Chain Analyst Vs. Data Analyst

If you do have prior relevant field experience and are considering between data analyst or supply chain analyst roles for your next career move, it can be helpful to understand their differences. Both are integral to an organization, but while data analysts focus on interpreting raw data to find trends and insights, supply chain analysts concentrate on managing and optimizing the supply chain process.

To add a few more details, data analysts are essential for data-driven decision-making, utilizing various tools to extract, transform, and interpret data. They are skilled in visualizing and presenting information to stakeholders.

Supply chain analysts, on the other hand, work on forecasting, inventory management, supplier collaboration, procurement, and production planning. They rely on the work of data analysts and industry knowledge to develop and implement strategies that streamline the supply chain, reduce costs, and improve efficiency.

Career Transition From A Data Analyst To A Supply Chain Analyst

If you are already in a data analyst role, transitioning to a rather niche field such as supply chain analyst can still be uniquely challenging. Simply put, there is a distinct lack of existing resources to tap into when making the switch. Where data analytics has an entire industry of well-documented experiences, guides, educational materials, and job descriptions, the same is not true with the supply chain analyst role.

Of course, career transitions are not limited to data analyst roles. Here are a few other roles that might have an easier time transitioning to a supply chain analyst role:

  • Business analyst
  • Business Intelligence analyst
  • Machine Learning Engineer
  • Data Architect
  • Business Systems analyst
  • Warehouse analyst
  • Marketing analyst

As you consider making the jump, remember that your existing skills are your greatest asset. These skills can be grouped into four sectors, and are similar to the skills at the top of the article:

  • Data Interpretation and Analytical Thinking: Both roles require the ability to interpret large sets of data, understand patterns, analyze complex situations, identify problems, and develop solutions, thereby fostering data-driven decisions.
  • Technology and Theory Proficiency: Familiarity with tools like Excel, SQL, and other data analysis software is crucial for both fields, as are underlying statistical and predictive modeling skills for managing, analyzing, visualizing data, and forecasting trends, demand, supply, and pricing.
  • Communication, Project Management, and Collaboration: Clear communication with stakeholders, managing timelines, resources, and collaboration with cross-functional teams are common in both roles. These also encompass working efficiently with various departments, suppliers, or external partners, requiring strong interpersonal skills.
  • Understanding of Business Operations and Continuous Learning: A comprehensive knowledge of how the business operates and how data or supply chain management fits into the overall strategy is essential, along with a commitment to ongoing learning, compliance with legal and ethical considerations, and staying up-to-date with industry trends.

Final Questions Before Transitioning

After evaluating what you bring to the table, consider the following questions before making the transition to supply chain analyst:

  • Is making the leap practically feasible?
  • Will my salary increase or decrease?
  • Do I have upward mobility?

Is It Feasible?

Yes, it is feasible to transition from a data analyst to a supply chain analyst role. Both roles require similar foundational skills in data interpretation, analytics, technology proficiency, and more. However, a successful transition may require additional training or experience in supply chain-specific topics such as procurement, inventory management, logistics, and distribution.

Salary Expectations?

Salaries can vary greatly depending on the industry, location, company size, and individual qualifications. On average, supply chain analysts may earn a similar or slightly higher salary compared to data analysts, especially if they have specialized knowledge or certifications in supply chain management. It’s advisable to research salary ranges in your specific location and industry to get a more accurate picture. We do provide a breakdown from GlassDoor of what to generally expect down below.

Do I Have Upward Mobility?

Yes, there is significant upward mobility in the supply chain analyst role. With experience and further education, one can move into higher positions such as supply chain manager, logistics manager, procurement manager, or even executive roles like director of supply chain operations or Chief Supply Chain Officer (CSCO). Continuous development of both hard and soft skills can lead to more advanced opportunities within the field. Jump to the section on career path for a more detailed outline of what to expect.

Which Industries are Hiring Supply Chain Analysts?

Intrinsically, all companies that handle logistics are in need of a supply chain analysts. Here are industries and companies that are always in demand of more analysts:

  • Retail
  • Automobile
  • E-commerce
  • CPG
  • Consulting
  • Boeing
  • PepsiCo
  • Whirlpool Corporation
  • The Home Depot
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Amazon
  • Intel Corporation
  • Target
  • Dell Technologies
  • Northrop Grumman

Many of these companies have offices and warehouses around the world, so it’s possible to find a job as a supply chain analyst even if you don’t reside in the United States.

Supply Chain Analyst Career Path

As we discussed, there is quite a bit of upward mobility in this role, which can be both steep and rewarding. Typically, supply chain analysts go through the following career path:

  1. Entry-Level Position: Junior or entry-level supply chain analysts focus on data collection, basic analysis, and supporting more experienced team members.
  2. Mid-Level Position: With a few years of experience, mid-level roles typically specialize, either as a supply chain planner, inventory analyst, or procurement specialist. Here, responsibilities often include analyzing data to forecast demand, coordinating with suppliers, and optimizing inventory levels.
  3. Senior-Level Position
    1. General Senior-Level Role: Progressing to a senior analyst or supply chain manager role, managing teams, strategizing, and working on more complex supply chain challenges. Interaction with other departments and top-level management becomes more frequent.
    2. Specialization and Consultancy: Some supply chain analysts may choose to specialize in a particular industry or aspect of supply chain management, such as sustainability or global logistics. Others might choose to work as consultants, advising various companies on their supply chain strategies.
  4. Executive-Level Position: For those with extensive experience and a strong skill set, opportunities to move into executive positions such as Director of Supply Chain or Chief Supply Chain Officer (CSCO) might become available. These roles often involve oversight of the entire supply chain strategy and operations for a company, and collaboration with other top executives.

To hasten upward mobility, continuous learning is vital. Analysts often pursue certifications, courses, and conferences to stay current with industry trends and best practices.

Supply Chain Analyst Salary

Whether we like it or not, a major consideration of a career transition is to inspect the projected salary. Here is what it looks like for supply chain analysts.

  • According to Glassdoor, the median salary of supply chain analysts in The United States totals $80,474 across all industries.

  • Analysts in agriculture earn around $76,142 per year.

  • Whereas, supply chain analysts working in legal earn $81,206 per year.

  • Supply chain analysts with less than one year of experience make around $69,255 a year.

  • Analysts with up to seven years of experience earn up to $86,960.

  • There is a projected 7% growth of supply chain analysts job positions over the next five years.

Other Resources

If you want to check out other relevant sources to kickstart your way into the supply chain analyst career, here are some educational materials from Interview Query that you can check out.