A career in logistics – what does that even mean? You probably have a basic understanding of what logistics entails, but that bit of knowledge won’t be enough to launch a successful career.
Let’s start with the basics. Logisticians are in charge of a business or organization’s supply chain, so they generally work in supply chain management (SCM). Typical job duties include developing relationships with suppliers, insuring all materials are transported in a timely manner, understanding customer needs and finding ways to minimize the cost of moving goods and materials.
Do you like what you hear so far? If you think you’d make a top-notch logistician, here are some facts and expert insight you should hear before getting started.
1. Logistics is a BIG business
Nobody dreams of working in logistics when they're a child. It's not a field that many people are aware of. But the fact of the matter is, it's an industry that plays a HUGE role in our economy. In fact, the U.S. transportation system moved a daily average of about 55 million tons of freight in 2013, which was valued at nearly $50 billion. U.S. business logistics costs rose to $1.48 trillion in 2015, which shows the sheer magnitude of this important, yet often overlooked, industry.
2. There aren’t enough candidates to fill logistics positions
This behind-the-scenes career field is often overlooked by aspiring business professionals. Everyone knows about careers in marketing or finance, but careers in logistics tend to fly under the radar. As a result, employers and recruiters have trouble filling these positions.
In fact, the logistics business will be looking to fill roughly 1.4 million jobs by 2018, as stated in a Fortune.com article. The increase in jobs combined with a shortage of qualified candidates means one thing – exciting opportunity for those willing to meet the requirements.
3. Work locations can vary
Logisticians have a lot to do every day, but exactly where do they do it from? There’s no standard work setting, according Rohit Sharma, a 12-year SCM veteran who now runs Perchingtree Inc.
4. It’s a high-pressure job
As a logistician, so many other people in SCM will depend on you. It’s your diligence and planning that will allow everyone else to do their job, but you may encounter sticky situations when the unexpected occurs.
“Logistics itself is a very challenging area within the SCM domain as most of the points of failure occur during logistics functions,” Sharma says. However, SCM is a field with many opportunities and logisticians who earn promotions often have a less stressful position, he says.
5. SCM understanding is crucial
Logistics is an important piece of the SCM puzzle, but it’s only one piece. Sharma says the most successful logisticians have a strong understanding of SCM as a whole.
“A lot of challenges occur as people working in individual parts do not know how the parts come together which also causes stress,” Sharma says. To combat this, he recommends exploring courses and training offered by APICS, an organization for those in supply chain and operations management, to better understand SCM and the role a logistician plays.
6. It's been dubbed a “Best Business Job”
That’s right! U.S. News & World Report ranked logistician number six on their Best Business Jobs list and number 26 on their 100 Best Jobs list. Several factors contribute to these rankings, including median salary, job prospects and stress level. With recognition like this, it’s no wonder you’re interested in pursuing this profession.
7. Education is an important first step
How can you qualify yourself to help fill the void? By getting educated! We used real-time job analysis software to examine nearly 50,000 logistics job postings from the past year.* The data revealed that 76 percent of employers prefer candidates to have a bachelor’s degree. The BLS also states that while an associate degree will qualify you for some positions, bachelor’s degrees are becoming more desirable due to the increased complexity of the field.
Motivation is another factor that helps logisticians catch the eye of their bosses, according to Sharma. “Managers are always looking for the next leader within the ranks who is motivated, knows the nuances of the spectrum and is willing to develop vertical knowledge,” he adds.
Now you know …
Without all the facts, a career in logistics seems complicated. OK, even with the facts you know it’s a complicated job. But you also know it’s worth the hard work!
If you can take the good – like the high demand and job variety – with the bad – like possible stress – then this just might be the career for you. Take the first step towards a career in logistics by exploring Rasmussen College’s supply chain and logistics management degree.
*Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 48,729 logistics job postings, Nov. 1, 2015 – Oct. 31, 2016)
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published in July 2015. It has since been updated to include information relevant to Nov. 2016.