Distribution Channel Management Salary

Distribution channel management is a growing field that appeals to recent graduates of business management programs. Managers typically work in the private sector for large manufacturing and distribution companies. They carefully employ logistical methods to reach sales and management objectives. They coordinate agreements between manufacturers and buyers. They develop strategies for improving results by designing an effective supply structure that ensures production, distribution, and sales objectives are met and operational costs are reduced.

Distribution channel managers receive generous salary packages. They typically work for distribution companies but may also work as an independent consultant. They have a background in logistics and warehouse distribution management. Although managers are not required to be certified in their field, they are encouraged through membership in professional organizations to pursue advanced studies and certification in supply chain management. Managers who also pursue an advanced degree in business administration are more likely to see increased earnings than managers who just have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, distribution channel managers who work in the private sector earn more than those who work for the federal government. As more companies plan for growth, there will be greater opportunities for distribution channel managers.

Salary Overview

The specific salary for distribution channel managers is determined by a number of factors. Managers must have a bachelor’s degree in a business major, preferably a specialization in administration or business marketing. Employers prefer managers who have an advanced degree in supply chain management.

Other factors come into play. Entry-level salaries for distribution channel managers are based upon long-term experience and are determined by industry. Managers who work for professional management companies tend to earn higher salaries than those who work for distribution companies.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, distribution channel managers earn $99,700. Salaries are also dependent upon the company size and geographical location. Entry-level managers earn approximately $50,000 while managers who have at least five years of experience earn $83,000.*

*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/

Job Description and Outlook

Distribution channel managers are not required to be certified in their field. However, they must have a working knowledge of management concepts and supply chain theory. In general, managers study the current distribution and supply chain of their companies. Managers coordinate the logistics of the manufacturer-buyer relationship. They develop plans for the distribution of goods and services through production channels such as warehousing, facilities, and sales. They also direct the flow of goods and services through intermediary distributors. They work closely with both suppliers and other types of channel distributors. They facilitate agreements between suppliers and end users.

Distribution channel managers also coordinate shipments of goods and freight. They organize transportation and monitor the arrival and departure of goods. They create and implement inventory tracking software. They develop procurement policies in relation to inventory. They also estimate the need for purchasing and sales agents. They provide comprehensive and summarized reports on the delivery of goods to suppliers and buyers. They typically work closely with the marketing, sales, and production departments.

The career outlook for graduates is positive. The demand for distribution channel managers is increasing as more companies require employees to have experience in logistical planning and distribution management.*

*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/

Training and Education Requirements

Recent graduates entering the field must have a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Managers may also complete an associate’s degree in distribution management where institutions offer coursework in logistics, materials design, and distribution. Managers may also pursue graduate studies in supply chain management.

Most employees without a degree enter the distribution management field as entry-level employees in purchasing departments; they may also work within the warehouse as inventory specialists. Managers with less than five years of experience and with a degree in distribution and logistics management enter the field as logistics technicians. Managers with more than five years may be housed as a manager in one of the following departments: transportation planning, distribution center, inventory control, or customer service.

Managers must have strong communication and interpersonal skills and have a strong attention to detail.


Although distribution channel managers are not required to be certified in their field, they are encouraged to pursue certification through membership organizations. Managers may pursue a certification through the International Purchasing and Supply Chain Management Institute (IPSCMI). The IPSCMI offers certification in International Supply Chain Management. The program tests students on logistics principles and supply chain management procedures. Many companies value this certification.

Professional Associations

Distribution channel managers may pursue membership with The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW) either as a wholesaler-distributor or as a non wholesaler-distributor. The NAW is a lobbying organization. It provides membership advocacy for industry professionals as well as provides information on insurance laws. The NAW offers professional development programs for its members. For example, the Billion Dollar Company Emphasis Program is designed to meet the needs of business executives and companies whose sales exceed one billion dollars. Through roundtable discussions, this program delivers results in the realm of logistics planning and management. The NAW also provides membership opportunities for large companies whose sales exceed $100 million. The Large Company Emphasis Program provides companies with strategic planning and networking seminars. Additional membership benefits include electronic roundtables and government relations advocacy through AskNAW.

The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors also houses the NAW Institute for Distribution Excellence in which business leaders and academic professionals from all across the country meet to discuss wholesale distribution.

Rates for members are determined by the size of the organization and the total sales of goods and services.

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