What Degree Do People With a Job in Logistics Have?

Ready to start your journey?

DegreeQuery.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Logistics is a large but often unnoticed career field. When logistics personnel succeed at the work they do, everything from product production to distribution and transportation runs smoothly – so much so that the work of a skilled logistics worker may seem invisible, because its effects are the delays and other problems that don’t happen.

Having skilled workers oversee the logistics of securing and transporting supplies is integral to the success of businesses in just about every industry. For this reason, logisticians and other logistics personnel are in high demand, with job growth soaring at faster than average rates. If you’re considering this career field, you should know that getting a job in logistics typically requires a college education.

DegreeQuery.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

What Logistics Majors Need to Know

You have your choice of multiple different degrees you could pursue to work in this field. As an aspiring logistician, your field of study could be as general as business or as specialized as systems engineering or supply chain management. When you want a career in logistics, choosing your major can be a little more complicated due to having these options. A general business major is more versatile but may not prepare you as fully for the specialized demands of a job in logistics as degrees in logistics, supply chain management and systems engineering would.

Among these specialized degrees, supply chain management is based more on a business administration foundation, while systems engineering comes from more of a mathematical approach. Which major you choose will significantly impact the coursework you take as part of your required curriculum. While any of these studies should provide you with some of the background knowledge and competencies that are valued in the logistics career field, the program of study you choose will determine the precise classes you take, as well as your area of focus and your opportunities for hands-on experience.

Because there is overlap between areas like supply chain management and systems engineering, you might be looking at programs offered out of colleges or departments of business, engineering or even liberal arts. 

Logistics as a Career Field

We all manage logistics in our personal lives. We have to plan schedules, purchase the supplies we need and the things we want in our lives and manage our transportation needs. When it comes to a career in logistics, the complexities of coordinating schedules, supplies and transportation become so much bigger.

Careers in logistics include logistician and logistics manager. Logisticians are sometimes called logistics analysts or supply chain analysts. These non-supervisory roles involve coordinating the flow and transfer of supplies and materials needed for a business or organization to run. They oversee every part of a product’s acquisition, transportation, allocation, processing, design, manufacture or sale and delivery – what the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) calls the “entire life cycle.”

A logistician’s job isn’t just to make sure that the right supplies get to the right place, but instead to make sure that supplies reach their destination on time, with as little cost and delay as possible. The most effective logisticians are highly organized and pay close attention to details. When situations go wrong, they are able to think critically about options and alternatives and to solve problems. Success as a logistician also requires the customer service, communication and relationship-building skills to develop interpersonal relationships with vendors, suppliers and clients and to meet the needs of these connections.

Logistics manager is a higher-level role that involves a leadership component. While logisticians focus on their assigned products in the supply chain, logistics managers have more big-picture responsibilities. One of these responsibilities is to supervise other employees who work in logistics, including logistics support personnel and logisticians. Logistics managers, which include transportation managers, storage managers and distribution managers, can earn a great deal more than logistics analysts. As of 2020, O*NET reported a median wage of $96,390 annually for transportation, storage and distribution manager roles, compared to $76,270 for logistics analysts.

Closely related to logistics are senior-level supervisory roles like supply chain manager. Supply chain manager roles encompass job titles such as Global Supply Chain Director, for which Salary.com reported a median annual salary of $144,327 and Vice President of Supply Chain Management, for which Salary.com reported a median salary of $254,134. 

Levels of Education for Roles in Logistics

For most jobs in logistics, you’re going to need some amount of higher education. More than 90 percent of logistics analysts reported having at least some college education, according to O*NET. Among the top three most common levels of education that O*NET reported for supply chain managers – accounting for a combined 96 percent of the field – a bachelor’s degree was the lowest level of education. If you’re aiming for a high-level supply chain manager role, you’re more likely to need an education above a bachelor’s degree, like a post-graduate certificate or a master’s degree.

What an Associate’s Degree in Logistics Can Do for You

If you want to dip your toes into the field of logistics education, an associate’s degree could be the answer. Associate’s degrees are often called two-year degrees because the approximately 60 credit hours of undergraduate study required for the degree can be completed in two years of full-time study. When pursuing an associate’s degree in logistics, you should expect to take introductory courses in transportation management and supply chain management as well as coursework in management of information systems, purchasing, inbound logistics and quantitative and qualitative methods used in productions and operations. When pursuing an Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degree, it’s likely that many of your classes will go toward completing general education requirements rather than coursework in your major specifically.

An associate’s degree is the second most common level of education for logistics analysts, accounting for 23 percent of the field, according to O*NET. The five percent of logistics analysts who report having some college study but no degree may well have been working toward their associate’s degree when they got hired for their first logistics analyst job.

Bachelor’s Degrees in Logistics

The BLS reports that, although some opportunities for logisticians are available with an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for most business careers in logistics. In fact, 64 percent of logistics analysts and 67 percent of supply chain managers reported having a bachelor’s degree as their maximum level of education, according to O*NET in 2021.

In a bachelor’s degree program in logistics or a related major, you would get considerably more exposure to coursework in your major than you would gain through an associate’s degree program. Bachelor’s degrees require twice as many college credits as associate’s degrees and are typically intended to be completed in four years of full-time study.

Earning a Master’s Degree in Logistics

Some logistics personnel choose to further their education by going to graduate school. One in five logistics analysts has a master’s degree, as do 17 percent of logistics managers. Another 10 percent of logistics managers pursue a post-baccalaureate certificate instead of a master’s degree. While graduate certificates may not confer the same amount of prestige that a master’s degree does, these specialized programs are considerably shorter than a master’s degree and will often suffice for learning advanced job skills and attaining a promotion to a logistics manager role.

Generally, a degree is not needed for logistical support roles such as clerk and dispatcher. These career roles, which are classified as administrative support rather than business professional roles, earn far lower wages and involve a much smaller scope of job duties.

What Is a Logistics Degree?

Generally, a logistics degree is any type of college degree that emphasizes preparation for careers in the field of logistics, which encompasses planning, overseeing, coordinating and managing the flow of materials, transportation, production systems and more. Logistics degrees may be more or less specialized. A bachelor’s in business administration degree program that includes a concentration in logistics may be considered a logistics degree, as can degrees in areas like supply chain management, logistics management transportation, systems engineering and other areas of study.

Work experience is generally strongly encouraged for logistics majors coming from both business and engineering departments or colleges, because having firsthand work experience in the field is valuable for students seeking their first logistics job.

Degrees in Supply Chain Management

Some degree programs that teach the principles and practices of coordinating product acquisition and transportation have the word “logistics” in the name. More often, though, the title of the degree revolves around the phrase “supply chain management.” Undergraduate degrees in supply chain management can be standalone Bachelor of Science (BS) or Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree programs or concentrations within a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program. BBA programs tend to provide a broader business education, while BS and BA programs are more specialized. A BS in supply chain management degree comes from a more scientific and technical approach, while BA degrees tend to take a liberal arts perspective.

When you study supply chain management at the undergraduate level, you complete coursework in subjects like supply chain application and policy, sustainable supply chains, logistics and transportation management, lean production, quality management and systems analysis and design. You learn skills such as supply chain modeling and manufacturing planning. In addition to learning the principles and practices of domestic supply chain management, you may also take classes in global supply chain management.

 Systems Engineering Degrees

A degree in systems engineering is also acceptable for logistics career paths, according to the BLS. Because systems engineering is part of the engineering discipline, this major is best for students who enjoy the technology, physical science and math studies needed to be an engineer. However, the field is somewhat interdisciplinary, often combining elements of mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering along with business logistics and management.

Students in system engineering degree programs should be prepared for rigorous coursework in math and science, but they can also develop a deeper understanding of the systems and processes at work in the management of logistics and the supply chain.

Business Studies for Logistics Work

If a supply chain management degree seems a little too specialized for your taste and the math- and science-focus of a systems engineering program is daunting, you can still prepare for a logistics career by studying business. Supply chain management serves the purpose of assisting the business in its profitable operations. Employers value logistics personnel who understand the big picture of how their work coordinating supplies fits into the overall mission of the company.

Many topics covered in supply chain management degrees are based on general business studies, like operations management and product management. You can continue developing your natural organizational skills and problem-solving skills through a business curriculum, just as you could as a supply chain manager. Finding an internship opportunity that allows you to gain some exposure to logistics work can help you learn on the job and develop the experience employers are seeking.

Ideally, the curriculum of any logistics degree, regardless of what the program of study is called, will introduce students to system dynamics, database management, business operations and technological tools that are widely used in the field of logistics, like radio-frequency identification (RFID), according to the BLS. 

Choosing Colleges With Logistics Programs

How do you go about selecting the right college for your degree in logistics? Prospective logistics majors should look at factors like selectivity and admissions requirements, graduation rates, career placement rates, curriculum requirements, opportunities for gaining practical experience and accreditation.

Other factors to consider when deciding which logistics degree program is right for you include the location of the school, the format and structure of courses (including accelerated programs and online and hybrid courses) and affordability and financial aid potential. It can also help to explore rankings lists published by trusted sources, such as U.S. News & World Reports’ Best Undergraduate Supply Chain Management/Logistics Programs list and Best Supply Chain Management MBA Programs list.

Logistics majors also benefit from choosing a school that offers extracurricular activities and student organizations that are focused on supply chain management, such as student chapters of professional supply chain management organizations like the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. 

 Related Resources:

What Degree Do I Need to Become a Logistician?

What Is the Difference Between a Business Administration Degree and a Supply Chain Management Degree?

How Long Does It Take to Get a Degree in Supply Chain Management?

What Is the Demand for a Degree in Supply Chain Management?

For Further Reading: 

What Are the 5 Best Careers in Environmental Science?

What Degree Do I Need to Be a Policy Analyst?

How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate Degree?