Learn About Being an Inventory Manager

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published December 10, 2019

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

What does an inventory manager do?

An inventory manager oversees their employer’s products, supplies and materials. These items may be used within the business or sold or leased to its customers. They usually supervise inventory clerks and warehouse staff and liaise with members of different departments within the business. Inventory managers are employed in businesses of all sizes in a variety of industries. Their duties vary depending on their industry and the size of the workplace, but typically include:

  • Counting or using computerized inventory monitoring or supply chain software tools to accurately track stock levels

  • Conducting regular cycle counts or stocktakes to determine available inventory

  • Ordering additional inventory when stocks are low

  • Sourcing suppliers and maintaining relationships with them, including addressing problems in supply and delivery

  • Preparing inventory for delivery or shipping to customers

  • Hiring and training inventory clerks and warehouse staff, delegating tasks and creating rosters for these workers

  • Studying sales numbers and forecasting future inventory needs

Average salary

Salaries for inventory managers vary depending on the employer, location and experience. Large businesses typically pay their inventory managers higher salaries than small firms do. Certifications can also help inventory managers command higher annual earnings. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the salary link.

  • Common salary in the U.S.: $60,422 per year

  • Some salaries range from $14,000 to $123,000 per year.

Inventory manager requirements

Inventory managers are typically required to have a combination of the following to secure employment:

Education

Businesses typically require their inventory managers to have at least a bachelor’s degree in inventory management, supply chain management, operations or business administration. Some employers may hire candidates without a degree, although these applicants should have extensive experience in inventory control and distribution. Some upper-level inventory managers may pursue a master’s degree in their chosen discipline. Information technology courses can also help inventory managers adjust to the increasing role of computers in their field.

Training

Employers usually require their inventory managers to work in inventory control or distribution role before transitioning to this senior position. Working as an inventory control clerk or warehouse worker can help aspiring inventory managers become familiar with inventory management and supply chain software, picking-packing procedures, the use of warehouse equipment and occupational health and safety procedures in the supply chain. Employers typically require applicants without degrees to have more on-the-job training than candidates with the preferred bachelor’s degree.  

Certifications

While certification is not required, many employers prefer candidates with Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) certification. CPIM certification is obtained through the Association for Operations Management and is open to all interested parties, regardless of their education and experience.

Candidates must purchase an Authorization to Test, then sit the computer-based CPIM examination within six months. This examination teaches candidates about basic supply chain and materials management, procurement and purchasing. Applicants can study the examination materials independently, in a traditional classroom or an online class.

After receiving certification, inventory managers must participate in professional development activities to maintain their credentials. Inventory managers who let their certifications lapse can also sit for recertification examinations.

Skills

Strong leadership and technical skills help inventory managers excel in their roles. Many businesses look for inventory manager candidates with the following skills.

Multitasking

Inventory managers must often work on several different tasks at once, including overseeing staff, counting and replenishing inventory and communicating with suppliers. Multitasking skills ensure all these duties are completed well and on time.

Leadership

Warehouse employees and inventory clerks look to inventory managers for their leadership. A good inventory manager should be able to motivate their staff, settle employee disputes and keep staff morale high.

Computer literacy

Most inventory managers use inventory-monitoring or supply chain software tools to keep track of stock levels and know when they should reorder. Forecasting tools can also help them predict future inventory needs. Computer literacy can help inventory managers familiarize themselves with the programs they use daily.

Mathematics

Many businesses require inventory managers to use their mathematics skills to manually track stock levels or use tracking software. Inventory managers can use their mathematics skills to detect and correct errors when tracking reports seem wrong. Mathematics skills also help inventory managers with planning and forecasting duties.

Attention to detail

The inventory manager is responsible for keeping the right amount of stock for a business’ customers and employees. It requires attention to detail to avoid over-ordering or under-ordering as well as recognizing minor problems with the supply chain before they become major concerns.

Interpersonal skills

Inventory managers rely on their interpersonal skills in their dealings with suppliers, warehouse workers, members of other departments and professional contacts. Inventory managers should be personable to communicate well within the business and secure the best deals on inventory.

Physical fitness

Working as an inventory manager can be physically demanding. These workers rarely sit still and spend a lot of time lifting stock and moving between departments within the business.

Inventory manager work environment

Inventory managers work for a variety of businesses, including retail stores and manufacturing companies. Most work a standard 40-hour week. However, some inventory managers, such as those working in retail environments, may be required to work weekends and late nights to meet store hours.

Inventory managers are usually very active, moving from the sales floor to the store office, the stock room or warehouse regularly. They may also be required to lift heavy stock.

How to become an inventory manager

Inventory managers typically complete their studies and spend time working in warehouses before being promoted. You could take the following steps to become an inventory manager:

1. Earn a degree.

A four-year bachelor’s degree in inventory management, supply chain management, operations or business administration is a typical prerequisite for working as an inventory manager. While some inventory managers are promoted to their roles without a degree, it will often take longer than those who begin with applicable degrees.

2. Gain work experience.

Most inventory managers start their professional careers working in warehouses as inventory clerks or packers. Many employers insist candidates have at least two years of experience.

3. Complete CPIM certification.

Certification can help aspiring inventory managers secure work and higher salaries. As there are no prerequisites and that studies can be done online or with a handbook at home, many aspiring inventory managers gain their certification while they’re working in a warehouse.

4. Update your resume.

Update your resume to show potential employers your education, certification and experience. Remember to highlight your skills and recent achievements.

5. Apply for inventory manager jobs.

Send your resume and a customized cover letter to organizations hiring inventory managers. If your current employer is hiring an inventory manager, you may have an advantage as you are already familiar with its supply chain procedures.

Inventory manager job description example

We are seeking an inventory manager to manage stock in our busy women’s fashion store. You will support the warehouse team at Kaylee’s Apparel and ensure we have sufficient stock for our in-store and online customers. A bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and warehouse experience are essential. CPIM Certification and managerial experience are preferred, but we may make exceptions for the right candidate. If you are a natural leader with an attention to detail, we would love to hear from you.

Related careers

  • Warehouse manager

  • Logistics manager

  • Procurement manager

  • Operations manager

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