Supply Chain Excellence – Master Scheduler

Hunter Campbell’s Supply Chain Salary & Employment Excellence Series profiles jobs within the Supply Chain job family including jobs in demand, salaries, and employment prospects.

In this article, the role of Master Scheduler is in the spotlight.

Purpose of the Role 

Master Schedulers are responsible for reviewing demand forecasts and then establishing long-term production plans. Master Schedulers will work to identify if and when the desired demand forecast can be achieved. 

Master Schedulers should consider multiple manufacturing routes to determine the most efficient and optimal way in which goods are produced. They need to ensure that their schedules are feasible and can be achieved. When working to establish long-term production plans, Master Schedulers diligently assess optimal levels of finished goods inventory to align with demand forecasts. They then strategically coordinate the manufacturing location (specific sites) and schedule for production, skillfully navigating key constraints such as raw material availability, labour resources, warehouse space, machine availability, and the implementation of predictive maintenance. In essence, this is rough-cut capacity planning. It is crucial that Master Schedules are not only ambitious but also realistic and attainable. Feasible schedules have a higher chance of success which results in buy-in from stakeholders and enhances reliability of the supply chain. Prioritising feasibility over wishful thinking is essential for sustained success. 

People often ask the difference between a Production Planner and Master Scheduler. Master Schedulers are more tactical long-term planners for production across the whole factory/multiple sites. Production Planners put short-term plans together for lines to ensure that they are produced as per the master schedule. Not every business requires the expertise of Master Schedulers. For companies with only a few production lines, a Production Planner may suffice. 


NZPICS offers a number of courses in planning and inventory management. If you are looking to increase your theoretical knowledge and understanding of planning and inventory management practices, courses through NZPICS would be highly beneficial.  

Businesses actively seek individuals with a commitment to continuous process improvement, as this mindset enables higher levels of optimization and efficiency while ensuring quality is not compromised. To build your competence in CI in a manufacturing environment, research and/or study on total quality management (TQM), Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing Theory of Constraints (TOC) and Kaizen would set you up well.  

 Key Skills Required 

To be successful in Master Scheduling for a large-scale manufacturer, you will need to have sound knowledge and understanding of the different roles within the supply chain planning space (demand planning, supply planning, production planning), engineering and manufacturing, production, warehousing and logistics. These roles all have an impact on production and resource availability. Involvement and exposure to S&OP meetings would be highly advantageous as well.  

Given the number of stakeholders that Master Schedulers liaise with, you need to be a proactive and effective communicator.  

Career Prospects 

Production Planners have day-to-day dealings and liaison with numerous stakeholders. For example, Demand Planners, Raw Material Planners, Inventory Controllers, Warehouse Managers and Productions Managers. Having knowledge and awareness of these roles and the impacts they can have in production is critical.  

With the knowledge and awareness of other critical functions involved with production, and transferrable planning and analytical skills, there could be an opportunity to move into a role more focused on planning the demand (Junior Demand Planner), a role where you plan for the raw materials for production (Raw Materials Planner), a role where you make purchase plans with suppliers (Supply Planner) or a role in warehousing or production itself (Production Planner).  

 Recruitment Forecast 

As companies invest in optimizing their supply chains to reduce costs and enhance capability and performance, with a focus on achieving Delivery In Full, On Time (DIFOT), there is a noticeable surge in the demand for additional personnel throughout the supply chains. This trend is expected to drive an increased interest in the recruitment of master schedulers. 

Salary Guide 

This information is anecdotal and based on roles Hunter Campbell is currently recruiting or has previously recruited and relate to base salaries. They do not include any additional bonuses or benefits. 

Junior: $90,000-$110,000 

Intermediate: $110,000-$125,000 

Advanced: $125,000-$140,000 

In the context of a junior Master Scheduler, the term “junior” might be misleading, as these individuals are usually experienced Production Planners taking on more significant responsibilities and increased oversight. For Intermediate Master Schedulers, the role often involves planning for multiple production lines with the potential to work across various sites. Often, they will have 1-2 direct reports. Advanced Master Schedulers have multiple sites/lines and can expect to be managing a team. 

If you would like to find out more about the role of Demand Planner, please contact Senior Consultant Kat Biggelaar. Kat specialises in Supply Chain, Planning and Contracting. For more news and views, visit our website by clicking here, see what opportunities we have available here or follow us on LinkedIn.

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