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How Do I Become an Inventory Specialist?

T. L. Childree
T. L. Childree

An inventory specialist manages, maintains, and records the activities of a company’s products or supplies. A bachelor’s degree in engineering, business, or mathematics is usually needed to become an inventory specialist. In addition to a college degree, you must also possess excellent managerial, organizational, and critical-thinking skills to succeed at this profession. Although professional certification is not required to become an inventory specialist, it may give you a hiring advantage over other candidates. After completing your college education, seek an entry-level position to gain the practical work experience needed for this career.

It is possible to become an inventory specialist with only a high school education, but most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field. Some employers may allow you to begin on-the-job training with an associate’s degree and some previous work experience. A bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, business administration, or mathematics will usually provide the best preparation for this career. Some colleges offer specially designed degree programs for inventory control and management.

Inventory specialists must be familiar with inventory management technologies.
Inventory specialists must be familiar with inventory management technologies.

Along with your formal education, you will need a number of personal skills to become an inventory specialist. Excellent managerial abilities are needed to supervise a staff of clerks and keep track of company goods. Good organizational skills are also required to create and maintain multiple record-keeping systems. You must also possess excellent critical-thinking abilities in order to find alternate approaches or solutions to various problems. Good decision-making skills are also essential in order to take the most cost-effective actions.

An inventory specialist is responsible for managing a company's flow of products and supplies.
An inventory specialist is responsible for managing a company's flow of products and supplies.

Professional certification is not usually required to become an inventory specialist, but it may give you an advantage over other job-seekers. Having a professional designation assures potential employers that your skills are up-to-date with current technology and practices. The Association for Operations Management (APICS) awards the internationally-recognized Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) designation to qualified individuals. Candidates are required to successfully complete a comprehensive five-part knowledge and skills examination in order to receive this designation. Professional certification must be maintained every five years through continuing education courses.

Inventory specialists may be asked to forecast, track and reconcile inventory.
Inventory specialists may be asked to forecast, track and reconcile inventory.

A period of on-the-job training will also be required upon completion of your formal education. Most inventory specialists begin their career in an entry-level clerk position until they acquire sufficient work skills. During this training period, you will learn basic inventory procedures such as counting stock, receiving and unpacking goods, and comparing physical inventory counts with financial records. You will also receive instruction in the use of inventory tags, stock-marking equipment, and electronic labels. This hands-on training period may last up to three years depending on the size of the company.

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    • Inventory specialists must be familiar with inventory management technologies.
      By: endostock
      Inventory specialists must be familiar with inventory management technologies.
    • An inventory specialist is responsible for managing a company's flow of products and supplies.
      By: Eisenhans
      An inventory specialist is responsible for managing a company's flow of products and supplies.
    • Inventory specialists may be asked to forecast, track and reconcile inventory.
      By: spflaum
      Inventory specialists may be asked to forecast, track and reconcile inventory.
    • An inventory specialist needs excellent organizational skills.
      By: Monkey Business
      An inventory specialist needs excellent organizational skills.