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Distribution Manager Career

How to Become a Distribution Manager 

Whether it’s a favorite brand of cereal or a specific line of personal care items you can’t live without, you probably have at least one preferred product you regularly purchase online or at a local retailer. For the ease and convenience with which you shop for goods like these, you can thank the efforts of distribution managers. If you have strong leadership skills, enjoy finding creative solutions to practical problems, and work well as part of a team, then you’ll want to check out what distribution management is all about. 

 Distribution management professionals serve an important role within a business environment. Their many responsibilities include organizing and coordinating the supply, storage, and distribution of a company’s goods or products, and also serve as the point of contact between departments, customers, and suppliers. They record purchases, monitor stock levels, facilitate the storage and distribution of goods, and handle invoices and budgeting. 

Professionals in this field generally work for centers that stock and ship products from many different manufacturers, but they can also use their skills and knowledge to advertise to retailers, putting together catalogs and magazines that outline products, prices, and deals. If a career in distribution management sounds interesting to you, continue reading to learn the vital role these professionals play in business and discover how you can apply your skills and knowledge to make an impact in this dynamic and exciting role. 

What Does a Distribution Manager Do?

supply chain manager

A distribution manager is responsible for a wide variety of duties, from analyzing stock levels of products and goods to establishing order schedules for a company or business. Some of the common day-to-day duties of a distribution manager may include: 

  • Organizing shipments. 
  • Coordinating drivers, vehicles, loads, and journeys. 
  • Operating IT systems to manage timings, costs, and stock levels. 
  • Analyzing data to assess performance of distribution methods, discover logistical problems, and devise plans for improvements.       
  • Negotiating contracts. 
  • Planning for and troubleshooting technical difficulties. 
  • Preparing paperwork for regulatory bodies. 
  • Liaising with and managing staff and shifts. 
  • Monitoring stock and managing waste.   
  • Ensuring that health and safety standards are met.

How Do I Become a Distribution Manager?

Distribution managers have at least a high-school diploma, however, professionals in the field will typically require earning a bachelor’s degree in business or management. Significant experience in warehourse management, or an understanding of current shipping technology is also a requirement for many of today’s jobs in distribution management. To get started in this field, follow these steps:

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree, preferably in supply chain and operations management, logistics, or economics.  
  • Choose a specialty in your field. 
  • Get on the job training or an entry-level position as a distribution manager. 
  • Advance in your career by earning a master’s degree and potentially earning certifications such as Certified Distribution Management Professional (CDMP), Certified Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), or APICS Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD-APICS) certificate. 

What Skills Does a Distribution Manager Need?

There’s more to distribution management beyond simply being responsible for getting products into the hands of consumers. These professionals are product experts who understand logistics and always double-check that the columns on a balance sheet add up.  

To be successful in this role, professionals should also have a combination of hard and soft skills that emphasize their leadership and organizational abilities. Some of these may include:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Logical reasoning 
  • Data analysis
  • Creative problem-solving
  • Time-management and the ability to prioritize tasks
  • Planning and the agility to handle unexpected changes 
  • Expert understanding of the supply chain process

Best Degrees for a Distribution Manager

Finance – B.S.

This online finance program is career-focused so you will gain...

This online finance program is career-focused so...

This online finance program is career-focused so you will gain relevant industry skills.

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish similar programs within 42 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 41 courses in this program.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Financial analyst
  • Finance director 
  • Investment banker
  • Insurance agent
  • Accountant

The competency-based model at WGU allows you to move as quickly as you can master the material, and do your coursework on your schedule. Flexibility is key with the B.S. in finance at WGU.

Business Management – B.S. Business Administration

Hone your business acumen and garner added respect:...

Hone your business acumen and garner added...

Hone your business acumen and garner added respect:

  • Time: 68% of graduates finish within 36 months.
  • Tuition: $3,755 per 6-month term.

Sample careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Account executive
  • Business analyst
  • Program manager
  • Director or senior director
  • Vice president

This online degree program is an excellent choice for kick-starting your organizational management career.

Supply Chain and Operations Management – B.S.

This online supply chain and operations management program will...

This online supply chain and operations...

This online supply chain and operations management program will prepare you for real-world experiences in business.

  • Time: 70% of graduates finish similar programs within 42 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 41 courses in this program.

Some careers and jobs this business degree will prepare you for:

  • Operations Manager
  • Facilities Manager
  • Industrial Production Manager
  • Distribution Manager 
  • Buyer/Purchasing Agent
  • Project Management Specialist

With incredible growth opportunities in supply chain and operations management, this program helps prepare student to meet industry needs and become credentialed experts.

Leadership Certificate – College of Business

Enhance your résumé and take a step in your educational journey...

Enhance your résumé and take a step in your...

Enhance your résumé and take a step in your educational journey with the help of a leadership certificate from the College of Business, powered by WGU Academy.

  • Time: 4 months from start to finish.
  • Cost: $2,250 for the certificate.
  • Courses: 3 courses total in this program.

This program is for emerging leaders, however this program does not require a bachelor’s degree, and provides transferable credit towards a WGU degree program.

Whether you aspire to work for a Fortune 500 organization, a government agency, a non-profit organization, or a fast-paced start-up, this certificate can give you the keys to success in a variety of industries, including:

  • Finance and Banking
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • IT
  • Consulting
  • Nonprofit
  • Government

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How Much Does a Distribution Manager Make?


According to 2023 Glassdoor estimates, distribution managers with at one to three years of relevant work experience earn an average salary of $89,000 per year in the U.S. Professionals on the lower end of the salary spectrum earn an average of $62,000 a year, while the top 10% of earners make approximately $128,000 annually. 

What Is the Job Outlook for a Distribution Manager?


Professionals in this role can expect a bright career outlook. Distribution manager job vacancies have increased by 50% in the U.S., or an average growth rate of 3% per year. 

Distribution managers also have opportunities to explore similar professions that they may move into, either within or outside their industry, such as: 

  • Warehouse manager 

  • Logistics manager  

  • Transportation manager  

  • Distribution center manager 

  • Fleet manager 

  • Logistics operations manager  

However, as companies continue to put emphasis on getting products to their markets on time and at a low cost in the competitive retail field, the demand for distribution managers will continue to rise, with an expected 12,090 new jobs created by 2029. 

Where Does a Distribution Manager Work?


Professionals in this role are employed by a range of business organizations, including manufacturing companies, wholesale distributors, and retail chains. Distribution managers can work within a variety of sectors, from private companies to the government in industries such as retail, aviation, engineering, transportation, and more. 

 If an exciting career in distribution management sounds appealing to you, find out more about gaining the skills and knowledge you need by earning a B.S. in Supply Chain and Operations Management (BSSCOM) from WGU

Offering accredited coursework in areas such as supply chain analytics, business analytics, and operations management, WGU’s entirely online supply chain and operations management degree program gives you a solid foundation based on the sought-after skills employers look for within today’s rapidly growing and competitive market. 

Interested in Becoming a Distribution Manager?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this lucrative career.

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