Job Search

Material Planner vs. Production Planner: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

A career in planning can be both challenging and rewarding. Two common positions in this field are that of a material planner and a production planner. Though these roles share some similarities, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between a material planner and a production planner, and we provide additional planning professions you may be interested in pursuing.

What is a Material Planner?

Material Planners work in a variety of industries to ensure that production schedules are met and that inventory levels are maintained. They develop and monitor production schedules to ensure that raw materials, components and finished products are available when needed. Material Planners also work with suppliers to ensure that orders are placed and received in a timely manner. They track inventory levels and report any discrepancies to management. In some cases, Material Planners may also be responsible for negotiating contracts with suppliers.

What is a Production Planner?

A Production Planner is responsible for the creation and maintenance of production schedules. They work closely with production managers to ensure that all materials, equipment and labor are available when needed. Production planners use computer software to generate production plans and schedules, and they track and adjust plans as needed to accommodate changes. They also develop contingency plans to be used in case of unexpected delays or problems. Production planners typically have a bachelor’s degree in business, engineering or a related field.

Material Planner vs. Production Planner

Here are the main differences between a material planner and a production planner.

Job Duties

Production and material planners share some of their job duties, but they also have unique responsibilities. A production planner creates detailed plans for how a company can create products efficiently and on time. They consider factors like the amount of staff needed to manufacture items, the equipment that needs to be available and the materials necessary to make products function well.

Material planners help companies determine what materials they need to purchase to produce goods effectively. These professionals research raw materials, communicate with suppliers and evaluate current inventory to decide which materials to buy. Material planners often work closely with production teams to ensure that the products they plan are effective.

Job Requirements

A bachelor’s degree is typically the minimum requirement for both positions, though some employers may prefer candidates with a master’s degree. In addition, production planners often need to have experience working in production or manufacturing environments. Many production planner positions also require experience using enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Some employers may provide training on this software to candidates who are not already familiar with it.

Material planners typically need to have experience working in materials management or a related field. They also need to be familiar with MRP software, which is used to track inventory levels and forecast future demand. As with production planners, some employers may provide training on this software to candidates who are not already familiar with it.

Work Environment

Production planners typically work in manufacturing facilities, where they collaborate with production teams to ensure that the facility runs smoothly. They may also travel to different locations to meet with clients and vendors. Material planners usually work in offices or other non-manufacturing environments. They may spend their days working on spreadsheets and reports, but they may also visit a manufacturing facility to observe operations and collect data for future planning purposes.


There are several similarities in the skills used by material planners and production planners. Both roles require excellent organizational skills to keep track of inventory levels, production schedules and deadlines. They also both need to be able to use analytical skills to identify trends and forecast future needs. Communication skills are important for both roles as well, as they often need to liaise with other departments and personnel to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

There are also some differences in the skills used by these two professionals. Material planners need to have a strong understanding of the supply chain and procurement process, as their job revolves around sourcing materials and ensuring that there is enough inventory on hand to meet production demands. Production planners, on the other hand, focus more on the manufacturing process itself and ensuring that it runs smoothly. As such, they benefit from having knowledge of lean manufacturing principles and techniques.


The average salary for a material planner is $65,155 per year, while the average salary for a production planner is $67,127 per year. Both of these salaries may vary depending on the size of the company, the location of the job and the level of experience the planner has.


Chief Administrative Officer vs. CEO: What Are the Differences?

Back to Job Search

Camera Operator vs. Cinematographer: What Are the Differences?