Every business or government entity that plays a role in manufacturing or distributing products or equipment – and even an organization that just uses those products – is concerned with logistics, or how to manage the flow of supplies and goods. This is as true of consumer goods as it is of high-tech equipment used in military operations. How do manufacturers deliver products to their consumers, either other businesses or private customers? How do they acquire the supplies they use to manufacture products?
Logisticians are the business and financial professionals who answer these and other important questions as they manage a company’s supply chain. They are involved in coordinating supply chain movements from the earliest stage of acquiring and allocating materials and supplies through the late stages of distributing and delivering finished products. Logisticians use software to manage inventory and the supply chain. They analyze supply chain movements and devise new strategies to improve the process of transporting supplies and products, particularly by decreasing costs and delivery time. Logisticians most commonly find work in general manufacturing, transportation equipment manufacturing, aerospace parts manufacturing, professional and technical services and the federal government.
A college degree is essential to work as a logistician. However, aspiring logisticians have some options regarding what major and level of education they pursue, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Some of the most common subjects of study for logisticians are:
- Industrial engineering
- Process engineering
- Supply chain management
Students who are seeking the quickest way into the career path may choose to pursue an associate’s degree. This two-year degree will prepare students for entry-level positions in logistics, although alone it might not offer as much value in terms of job search and career advancement as having a four-year degree. That’s why most logisticians, particularly those who want to advance later in their careers, choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree. During their additional years of study, students in bachelor’s degree programs will typically complete coursework in database management, decision-making, operations management, systems dynamics and the software and technology students will use in their careers as logisticians.
While logisticians aren’t required to hold a license, some professionals choose to boost their résumé and demonstrate their skills by seeking professional certification from an organization like the American Society of Transportation and Logistics or the International Society of Logistics. These certifications can illustrate to potential clients or employers that the logistician has plenty of experience and knowledge of the field. Often, certification requires successfully completing an examination in addition to meeting education and experience requirements.
Logisticians earned a median salary of $72,780 per year as of 2012, according to the BLS. Earning potential is even higher for logisticians who work in aerospace parts manufacturing, transportation equipment manufacturing and the federal government. The job outlook for this career is very positive, with the BLS anticipating opportunities for logisticians to increase by 22 percent – double the increase expected for jobs in all industries – over just a decade. Logisticians with bachelor’s degrees in relevant subjects will see the biggest increase in career opportunities.
Logisticians play an important role in effectively moving supplies and finished manufactured goods from one place to another. For candidates who are well-organized and skilled at thinking critically to solve problems, a career as a logistician can be rewarding.