What is an Inventory Specialist?

Inventory Specialists work at a variety of different organizations to keep track of inventory input and output, maintain records and monitor inventory transportation. Since the focus of an Inventory Specialist is always homed in on one specific department of their company, their work must be highly detailed and consistently meticulous. In addition to keeping track of how much inventory comes and goes, Inventory Specialists must also create budgets and keep a close eye on their company’s inventory expenditures.

Inventory Specialists can work at independent businesses, warehouses or chain stores. This means that Inventory Specialists have the opportunity to build a career in a number of sectors, from the healthcare industry to clothing retail to manufacturing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand of Logisticians, which includes Inventory Specialists, will increase 2 percent. This is expected to result in the opening of 2,500 positions through 2024.

 

Inventory Specialist Duties and Responsibilities

In order to make sure that the entire supply chain is running smoothly, Inventory Specialists perform a variety of tasks. We examined online job postings to identify these common Inventory Specialist duties and responsibilities.

Provide Reports

One of the most essential functions of an Inventory Specialist is reporting both low-stock inventory and surplus inventory to higher-level management staff on a regular basis. This ensures that the Inventory Specialist’s company is able to appropriately evaluate its ordering practices so that it neither orders too few or too many of any particular product.

Inspect Returned Merchandise

It is the job of the Inventory Specialist to inspect returned merchandise for damage, separating the products which can be resold from those which cannot, and then re-entering the re-sellable items into the company’s main inventory.

Receive and Record Inventory

Whenever a company’s warehouse receives a new shipment of products, it is the Inventory Specialist’s responsibility to make sure that each shipment is properly received and recorded into the company’s database. This task usually involves the input of information regarding a shipment into a digital enterprise resource planning system. Information that may need to be entered can include the type of product received, the quantity of each product received and the date on which the shipment arrived.

Maintain Count Accuracy

Because Inventory Specialists are responsible for maintaining the highest possible level of count accuracy at all times, they must frequently engage in the digital and physical counting of merchandise. This can involve the repeated adding and subtracting of numbers in a computer database, as well as the manual counting of items in a warehouse.

Inventory Specialist Skills

Inventory Specialists must be able to simultaneously monitor the big-picture numbers of a company’s inventory, as well as the specific numbers of each individual product. This means that Inventory Specialists need to have great attention to detail, a calm and methodical working style and the ability to multitask under pressure. In addition to these general skills and qualities, employers are looking for Inventory Specialists with the following skills.

Core skills: According to the job postings we analyzed, employers are seeking Inventory Specialists with the following core skills. If you’d like to pursue a career as an Inventory Specialist, concentrate on these:

  • Math proficiency
  • Familiarity with ERP and data entry systems
  • Ability to perform moderate to heavy lifting
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Great written and verbal communication
  • Basic budget management skills

Advanced skills: Although many employers do not necessarily require these skills, they are often listed as preferred. To broaden your career opportunities, focus on developing the following advanced skills.

  • Experience with Microsoft Office
  • Experience with Microsoft Excel
  • Experience with 10-key adding machines

 

Inventory Specialist Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for Logisticians, which includes Inventory Specialists, is $74,260. The lowest-paid Inventory Specialists earn $43,830 per year, while the highest paid earn a median income of $115,960 per year. Inventory Specialists in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Alabama earn the highest median salary in the United States — $101,200, $88,200 and $84,800, respectively.

 

Inventory Specialist Resources

We compiled this list of additional resources to help you continue exploring your career as an Inventory Specialist. Whether you’re looking for useful books or engaging LinkedIn groups, you’re sure to find something in the following list.

On the Web

Logistics Viewpoints – Frequently updated blog written by experienced supply chain experts and logistics analysts for ARC Advisory Group.

Talking Logistics –  Weekly talk show, blog and educational resource featuring Adrian Gonzalez, founder of the research service 3PL Briefings and the supply chain company Adelante SCM.

Inbound Logistics –  A news source dedicated to everything logistics-related which discusses industry news across a variety of sectors.

On LinkedIn

Logistics and Supply Chain Professionals –  This group of more than 225,000 members is a great place to exchange insights, engage in discussion and network with other Inventory Specialists.

Inventory Management –  With more than 9,000 members, this group provides a platform for networking and conversation between inventory professionals.

Inventory Reduction and Optimization –  This group is specifically focused on practices that can decrease inventory, improve sales operations and boost financial performance.

Books

Lean Supply Chain and Logistics Management –  Provides explanations of both basic and advanced strategies for eliminating waste, assessing opportunities, analyzing metrics and more. Can serve as an excellent reference guide for already-practicing Inventory Specialists.

Inventory Management Explained – Covers essential aspects of inventory management, including forecasting, safety stock, planning, distribution models and lot sizing.

Warehouse Management – Discusses ways to minimize spending, apply new technology, streamline operations and maintain health and safety standards.

 

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