Material Planner Job Description

The material planner is an essential part of the manufacturing team and ensures the flow of materials necessary for all manufacturing operations. These planners ensure that their company never runs out of necessary manufacturing materials. They work both as part of a team and independently in a variety of settings. Depending on the industry and type of manufacturing, material planners may be required to perform physically intensive work, such as surveying inventory and inspecting the production line. They also may be required to work in spaces that are not temperature controlled. They typically work regular business hours but may be required to come in on evenings or weekends when working on large orders or to address production issues.


Material Planner Duties and Responsibilities

Specific job duties for material planners vary based on their employer. However, there are several core tasks common across the field, such as:

Manage Production Flow

Material planners ensure the steady flow of materials necessary for operating a manufacturing line. Because manufacturers have limited storage space for raw materials, planners make sure there’s adequate supply without over-ordering or wasting resources.

Ensure Product Supply

These planners manage the supply of products to customers, making sure there are adequate materials to ensure steady production and product delivery to customers. They monitor materials flow to identify bottlenecks and forecast problems.

Maintain Inventory

Material planners observe trends and customer requests to create and maintain inventory schedules. Keeping track of production volume and purchasing expectations helps material planners make sure the right number of products and manufacturing materials is always available.

Track Material Shipments

Organizing and scheduling customer deliveries is the material planner’s responsibility. They sometimes also process customer shipment inquiries or complaints and schedule changes or cancellations for shipment orders.

Communication with Other Departments

Material planners act as liaisons between manufacturing and other departments. They receive project plans and additional information to determine timelines and necessary materials. They also work to coordinate supplier payments with the accounting department.


Material Planner Skills and Qualifications

Material planning requires industry knowledge more than academic credentials. Employers look for candidates with industry experience as well as the following skills:

  • Knowledge of shipping and receiving – material planners plan and verify incoming and outgoing shipments and fully understand the process of preparing and receiving shipments
  • Knowledge of manufacturing process – managing the supply of materials for manufacturing means material planners are highly skilled in all processes related to the manufacturing their company performs
  • Critical thinking – material planners can think clearly and rationally about every task at hand. They often work independently to review logistics and can analyze situations to solve problems and create solutions
  • Time management – material planners must keep tight schedules and possess the ability to prioritize, schedule, and set and meet manufacturing goals
  • Organization skills – managing a production line requires coordinating multiple parts of the manufacturing process to run smoothly, so material planners must stay organized and keep production flowing at an appropriate pace
  • Communication skills – material planners work within a team and are often the only point of contact between the manufacturing department and suppliers


Material Planner Educations and Training

Requirements for material planners vary greatly depending on the employer, but the basic requirement is a high school diploma. Some employers look for material planners who have a bachelor’s degree in business, logistics, engineering, or supply chain management. Regardless of education level, employers prefer material planners with a few years of experience in manufacturing, material planning, shipping and receiving, or inventory systems, as well as knowledge of the employer’s specific industry.

Some employers prefer candidates with a certificate in inventory management or production. These certifications are issued through the Association for Operations Management (APICS) and require two years of experience before passing a series of exams. It’s not necessary to hold a degree to earn these certificates, but continued professional development is required to maintain them.


Material Planner Salary and Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employees in the production, planning, and expediting sector, including material planners, earn an average annual salary of $49,020, or $23.57 an hour. The lowest 10 percent of earners in the field make $28,490 annually, while the highest 10 percent earn $74,000. The employment outlook for these professionals is expected to grow 2.1 percent over the next 10 years, which is slower than average. Material planners typically enjoy benefits such as health insurance, retirement, and paid time off.


Helpful Resources

Ready to become a top-notch material planner? We’ve come up with a list of great resources that can help you on your way:

“What It Takes to Get a Good Manufacturing Job Now” – this Yahoo Finance article goes over the basics of getting your foot in the manufacturing industry’s door

“How to Get a Manufacturing Job With No Experience” – this helpful article explores entry-level manufacturing jobs and how to navigate the job search without experience. Everyone must start somewhere, and this article can help you shuck the mindset that you aren’t skilled enough to be competitive in the job search

Career Launcher: Manufacturing – learn how to successfully plan a career in manufacturing with this book. It goes through available jobs and tips for success, providing you an inside edge in this job market

Shipping, Receiving, and Traffic Clerk Career – this guide to finding a job in shipping and receiving covers all the topics you need to know when searching for your dream job in this field


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