Have you ever wondered what it takes to get avocados to your local grocer? Have you considered where the parts that form your smartphone come from? How about the clothes you wear?
These are the puzzles of a logistician. As globalization bolsters the global supply chain, demand for logisticians, who oversee the complicated transportation of these goods and services, is expected to grow in coming years across sectors and industries.
What is a Logistician?
Logisticians are responsible for analyzing and implementing an organization’s supply chain, managing the product lifecycle from acquisition to allocation to delivery. Logisticians don’t only oversee retail supply chains, however. They can also coordinate disaster response, ensuring equipment, supplies and professionals arrive quickly with all supplies and tools necessary.
What Do Logisticians Do?
To manage the product supply from end to end, logisticians conduct a variety of tasks, including:
- Managing the product (or services) life cycle from start to finish
- Oversee materials, supplies and product allocation
- Understanding what clients need and how to best meet those needs
- Reviewing logistical functions to identify opportunities for improvement
- Recommending cost or time management strategies
- Overseeing purchasing, transportation, warehousing and inventory
- Applying software systems to plan and track movement, manage procurement, understand inventory management and supply chain planning
- Manage subcontractor activities
- Create proposals and estimates
- Review logistics performance against established goals, benchmarks, and service agreements
How Much Do Logisticians Earn?
The median yearly wage for logisticians was $75,590 in May 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)*. The top industry, federal government, was higher than average in this same time period ($84,200). Most logisticians work full-time, according to the BLS, with about a quarter working more than 40 hours per week to keep operations on schedule.
How Do You Become a Logistician?
According to the BLS*, most professionals hold a bachelor’s degree in business, supply chain management, or systems engineering. Additional certifications are not required; however, they can help establish professional ability and knowledge base. And, professionals will want to stay current on technology in the field, including software applications and tracking systems.
For further career growth, particularly in management, logisticians may want to pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or MS in Supply Chain Management.
Is Logistics the Right Career Path For You?
Logistics are required in nearly every industry, within logistics departments or for firms that specialize in logistics. Keeping large operations on schedule and problem solving in fast-paced environments can make the role stressful, and logisticians need to possess several soft skills, including:
- Communication skills to partner with colleagues, suppliers and customers.
- Organizational skills to manage multiple projects in fast-paced environments, all of which will require detailed records.
- Critical-thinking skills to adapt quickly to challenges, reduce costs and improve efficiency
- Problem-solving skills to manage unexpected hurdles, like delays, and quickly adjust plans to manage the issue
- Customer service skills to build rapport with customers to understand their needs, and then to manage expectations and communicate good – and bad – news effectively.
- Active listening to truly understand challenges and delays, requirements and expectations.
Logistics is also a good career path for professionals coming from the U.S. military, according to the BLS*. For example, in the BLS’ military careers section**, support service officers are described as managing logistics, transportation and supply of materials by ground vehicles, ships or aircraft. In addition, contracting and purchasing manager handle contracts for services, supplies and equipment that the military purchases from the private sector. U.S. News states that the experience military members gain from moving material under adverse conditions is relevant training for entering the logistics field.
And, because logistics is expansive, professionals can begin at lower levels and potentially advance within the same organization as they gain experience. Promotions are common in the field, according to Supply Chain Digital, particularly because of an emphasis on training employees to promote from within organizations. Supply Chain Digital also states that logistics can serve as a launch pad to other careers in international business after the experience gained in logistics.
This fast-paced career ensures professionals are seldom bored, and the BLS* states that employment is expected to grow as “companies need more logisticians to move products more efficiently, solve problems and identify areas of improvement.”
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Logisticians, on the internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/logisticians.htm (visited March 18, 2019).
**Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Military Careers, on the internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/military/military-careers.htm (visited March 21, 2019).
National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Information provided is not intended to represent a complete list of hiring companies or job titles, and program options do not guarantee career or salary outcomes. Students should conduct independent research for specific employment information.