15 Things You Need to Know About a Career in Logistics

Photo of a logistics professional working at a computer

Careers in logistics and supply chain management

You might have a basic understanding of what the supply chain field is about, but you definitely want to know more about supply chain management careers before you start making any big plans for your future.

You're in the right place for that. In this article, we'll give you a rundown of what logisticians, distribution managers and supply chain managers do and what you can expect from a career in this crucial supply chain field.

Let's start with the basics. Logistics and supply chain professionals, including logisticians and supply chain managers, are in charge of the logistics process managing a business or organization's supply chain. Their work in the U.S. falls under the broader umbrella of supply chain management - and organizations within the industry often work closely with international supply chains, too.

Typical supply chain job duties include inventory management, developing relationships with suppliers, ensuring all materials are transported on time, understanding customer needs and finding ways to minimize the cost of moving goods and materials.

Supply chain management careers can encompass a wide range of logistics and supply chain roles, such as supply chain analyst, global logistics manager, transportation management, inventory management and warehouse management.

But that's just scratching the surface of logistics and supply chains and all that they involve. If this sounds like the type of work that would interest you, read on for additional insight.

What you should know about a career in logistics and supply chain management

Logistics and supply chain careers are often-overlooked by the public—so let's dig in to what you may have missed so far in your career search into supply chains. Which supply chain management job is a good fit? Are you ready for a supply chain career?

1. Logistics is a BIG business

The logistics industry plays a HUGE role in our economy. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 18.1 billion tons of goods worth about $19.2 trillion moved on our nation's transportation network in 2015.1

By 2045, total freight is projected to reach 27 billion tons while the value is expected to grow to $38 trillion, showing the sheer magnitude of this important, yet often overlooked, industry.

2. Employment projections for logisticians look strong

Given the massive size of this career field, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there's a pretty steady demand for skilled logistics professionals and supply chain operations managers.

Labor statistics

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics2 projects employment of logisticians to grow 28 percent from 2021-2031—a rate much faster than the national average.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics2 also writes that "overall [logistician] job opportunities should be good because of employment growth and the need to replace the supply chain workers who are expected to retire or otherwise leave the occupation."

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 to Rohit Sharma, a 12-year supply chain management veteran.

Logisticians can work anywhere from a factory setting to an office to a mobile location like a delivery or pickup center.

Logistics Work Environment

This myriad of possibilities means it's important to ask potential employers exactly what kind of environment you'll be working in, he advises.

Supply chain professionals can work anywhere from a factory setting to an office to a mobile location like a delivery or pickup center.

Depending on the role, you may also be regularly required to travel to visit different facilities within a supply chain—another work environment factor you'll want to consider.

4. High-pressure career paths

When you are a logistician, many other people in the supply chain industry 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.

'A very challenging area'

“Logistics itself is a very challenging area within the supply chain management domain as most of the points of failure occur during logistics functions,” Sharma says.

For example, some days you may be on the hook for working out a back-up shipping plan that can have an enormous impact on an organization's bottom line.

As a logistician or supply chain manager, so many other people will depend on you.

As a supply chain manager, 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.

That means you'll need to keep calm under pressure and communicate effectively to stakeholders who are likely under pressure as well.

5. Understanding the big picture of supply chain management is crucial

Logistics is an important piece of the supply chain management puzzle, but it's only one piece.

Sharma says the most successful logisticians have a strong understanding of supply chain management 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 supply chain management and the role a logistician plays.

Additionally, a degree program focused squarely on Supply Chain and Logistics Management can provide an excellent foundation for understanding how all of the individual elements of supply chain management fit together.

6. It's been dubbed a “Best Business Job”

That's right! U.S. News & World Report ranked logistician number 16 on their 2023 Best Business Jobs list.3

Several factors contribute to these rankings, including median salary, unemployment rate, job prospects, work-life balance and stress level.

Obviously, every occupation has its pros and cons—and logistics careers are no different—but the total package appears to be a pretty appealing option for anyone considering a business or logistics career outlook based on this criteria.

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 over 70,000 logistics job postings from the past year and found that 70 percent were seeking candidates with a bachelor's degree at a minimum.4

Associate and 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.

8. A wide range of industries to choose from

A career in logistics and supply chain management can span across numerous industries, including retail, manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, and more.

This diversity provides you with ample opportunities to find a niche that suits your interests and skills.

From managing the supply chain for an e-commerce giant to overseeing the distribution of medical supplies, logistics managers and professionals have a wide range of options to choose from.

9. Technology is increasingly important in the field

The rise of technology, such as artificial intelligence, automation, and data analytics, is revolutionizing the logistics and supply chain management industry.

Staying up to date with tech

As a logistician or supply chain professional, you'll need to stay up-to-date with the latest technological advancements and be comfortable using them to optimize the logistics and supply chain processes.

Embracing technology can help streamline operations, minimize costs, and improve business administration overall efficiency.

10. Strong analytical and problem-solving skills are essential

As a logistician or supply chain professional, you'll often face complex challenges that require analytical skills for you to analyze data and think critically to develop effective solutions.

Strong analytical and problem-solving skills are crucial in order to optimize processes, address bottlenecks, get cost efficiency and ensure the smooth flow of goods and materials throughout the supply chain.

11. Networking can boost your career opportunities

Building a strong professional network within the logistics industry can provide you with valuable resources, connections, and opportunities for career advancement.

Attending conferences, joining industry associations, and participating in online forums can help you connect with other professionals, stay informed about industry trends, and identify job openings.

12. Soft skills are just as important as technical expertise

While technical knowledge is essential for a career in logistics, soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and leadership, are equally important.

As a logistician, you'll need to collaborate with various stakeholders, negotiate with suppliers, and manage teams.

Developing strong interpersonal skills can help you excel in your role and advance your career.

13. Sustainability and ethical considerations are increasingly important

As businesses become more conscious of their environmental impact and social responsibilities, logistics professionals must adapt to ensure that supply chain operations align with these values.

This may involve purchasing managers implementing eco-friendly practices, such as reducing packaging waste or optimizing transportation routes, and ensuring that suppliers adhere to ethical labor standards.

14. Opportunities for career growth

A career in logistics can potentially offer great opportunities for growth. As you gain experience and develop your skills, you may move into managerial or executive roles, overseeing larger teams and more complex operations.

Some logisticians may also choose to specialize in specific areas, such as international logistics or warehouse management, further expanding their various career paths and options.

15. A global career with potential for international exposure

The logistics industry operates on a global scale, which means that there may be opportunities for international exposure and travel.

Working with suppliers and customers from different countries can help broaden your perspective, enhance your cultural understanding, and develop valuable skills that can benefit your career in the long run.

Is a logistics career for you?

For many, the idea of pursuing supply chain jobs probably isn't even on their radar.

But now that you know more about this challenging-yet-rewarding global profession, you should have a better idea of whether it's an option that's right for you.

Of course, the work of a logistician is only part of the overall supply chain management career field. If you're strongly considering a degree in this field, you'll want to check out our article, “What Can You Do With a Supply Chain Management Degree? 9 Careers to Consider” to learn more about how else you could apply this degree.

1U.S. Department of Transportation, Connections: Freight Shipments Projected to Continue to Grow, [accessed April 2023] https://www.transportation.gov/connections/freight-shipments-projected-continue-grow

2Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, [accessed April, 2023] www.bls.gov/ooh/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

3U.S. News & World Report, Best Business Jobs 2023, [accessed April, 2023] https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/the-100-best-jobs

4Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 71, 121 logistician, logistics manager and logistics analyst job postings, Aug. 1, 2019 - July 31, 2020)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published in 2015. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2023.

About the author

Glynn Cosker

Glynn Cosker is a content strategy manager and professional writer. He was born and raised in the UK and is now a U.S. citizen. He has authored numerous journalistic articles on assorted topics during the 20+ years of his writing career.

Rasmussen blog author

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