What Is Logistics Management? Understanding Its Importance

loading shipping containers on boat 

If you’re unfamiliar with the field, logistics management can seem pretty mystifying. When you start digging into this career specialization and the whole behind-the-scenes industry that comes with it, the confusion can really amplify.

But supply chain management (SCM) and logistics is also a gigantic part of life as we know it. Practically every item you see in your home has an entire supply chain leading it there—with natural resources, parts and components all being created and shipped across a complex global network. These vast interconnected streams of goods and materials are essentially the global economy’s circulatory system.

And the demand on that system is rising. “The need to have better transparency, real-time updates and better efficiency is more important than ever before in remaining competitive and meeting the demands of customers,” says Shaun Savage, CEO and founder of GoShare, a logistics and delivery company.

“Historically, the logistics industry has dragged its feet when it comes to new technology adoption,” Savage explains. “But, in recent years, that's changing. It's an exciting time to be part of the logistics community.”

Sound interesting? Read on to find out what the logistics community is like.

So, what is logistics management all about?

Supply chain logistics is about getting a product from its origin to its final destination. It may seem simple on paper—but the transfers, barriers, legal restrictions, modes of transport and more can make the logistics industry incredibly complicated.

Think of the steps you have to go through to ship a package to someone else. Even sending a simple object from point A to point B involves choosing a shipping company, packaging the object, transporting it to the shipping place and more.

Now imagine hundreds, thousands of objects, multiple points of origin, multiple destinations, international borders, trucks, freight trains and ships, items that must arrive in a small window of time and done as inexpensively as possible ... you can see how things get very complicated very fast. Professionals who work in logistics are there to keep this supply chain running smoothly, making sure all points of the transit are covered, and that everything is packaged, accounted for and delivered on time.

Contrary to what some may think—this field is by no means getting smaller with automation. “While technology is certainly advancing and becoming more of a reality in supply chain management, cutting-edge advances in supply chain robotics will augment workers—not replace them,” says Vivek Kumar, CEO of Qlicket. In fact, Kumar explains that companies today are having trouble finding qualified employees in logistics.

Part of this is because of what Kumar references as “the Amazon effect,” or a rising demand for multiple small distribution centers to meet the consumer’s desire for fast shipping. “The marriage of these two phenomena—the Amazon effect and human-robot collaboration—will lead to an increase in warehouse and distribution center employment,” Kumar says.

What does a logistics manager do?

Logistics managers plan, direct or coordinate purchasing, warehousing, distribution, forecasting, customer service or planning services, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.1 They oversee logistics employees and systems and direct daily operations.

If you work in this role, you might be called a Logistics Manager—but there are many titles that all cover similar ground. Logistics Operations Director, Logistics Solution Manager, Logistics Team Leader and Supply Chain Logistics Manager are some other common titles.

Professionals in this role will likely collaborate with other departments to integrate logistics with business systems like sales or accounting. They will supervise schedulers, create procedures for logistics activity, monitor and manage distribution center activities and resolve problems concerning transportation, imports or exports, or customer issues.

Logistics managers also need to plan for trouble. They develop risk management programs to ensure the continuity of supply in emergency scenarios—what’s the backup plan if a hurricane disrupts shipping routes or a factory is taken offline? These are the variables logistics management professionals need to anticipate.

What does it take to become a logistics manager?

If you’re thinking work in logistics sounds both fascinating and complicated—you’d be right! Work in logistics also tends to be fast-paced and stressful in crunch times, so it’s not necessarily for everyone. But for people with the right skills and traits, the field of logistics is full of both opportunity and excitement.

Logistics managers rely on a mix of soft skills and technical skills to do their jobs—plus lots of software. The Department of Labor reports the following skills as especially important in this field.

Soft skills for logistics managers:1

  • Reading comprehension
  • Active listening
  • Coordination
  • Critical thinking
  • Speaking / communication

As you can see, these skills tend to revolve around communication and analytical thinking. Logistics managers have to coordinate groups of people in different places and ensure that everything connects and flows as it should.

Technology for logistics managers:

  • Database management software
  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP software)
  • Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne
  • Transtek Compass ERP
  • Planning logistics and supply chain software (3PL Central; Four Soft 4S VisiLog; Logisuite Enterprise)

Savage says the use of technology in logistics particularly is growing rapidly. Improved software systems can now create on-demand virtual networks of transportation professionals, improve forecasting and allow for complete supply chain visibility, he explains. “Up and coming logistics management professionals who can learn and adopt these innovations will stand out from their peers and find many strong opportunities for themselves in the field.”

For specific skill areas like these, logistics managers rely on education. But what education is needed? We analyzed over 22,000 logistics management job postings from the past year to see what employers are seeking. What we found is that over 85 percent of job postings were looking for applicants with a bachelor’s degree or higher.2 While many business-focused degrees paired with the right experience could work for meeting this requirement, there are Supply Chain and Logistics Management programs that cater to this specific subject.

What is logistics management to you?

It’s the circulatory system of our economy. It’s a crucial industry with intriguing career opportunities. It may even be your future career! If you could use a little more information about logistics careers—and want to hear from professionals in the field—you’ll want to check out our article “6 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Supply Chain Management Career.”

1Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, [accessed July 2019] www.bls.gov/oes/. Information represents national, averaged data for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. Employment conditions in your area may vary.
2Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 22,061 logistics management job postings, June 1, 2018 – May 31, 2019)

About the author

Brianna Flavin

Brianna is a content writer for Collegis Education who writes student focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. She earned her MFA in poetry and teaches as an adjunct English instructor. She loves to write, teach and talk about the power of effective communication.

female writer

Related Content

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen University to support its educational programs. Rasmussen University may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen University does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

logo-accreditation-acen logo-accreditation-ccne chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors-masters 0 Credits90 Credits180 Credits48 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTSStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE'S DEGREEStart HereMASTER'S DEGREEPURSUERSEnd HereBACHELOR'S DEGREEEnd HereMASTER'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors 0 CreditsStart HereHIGH SCHOOL GRADSStart HereTRANSFER STUDENTS90 CreditsStart HereSECOND DEGREE PURSUERSEnd HereASSOCIATE'S DEGREE180 CreditsEnd HereBACHELOR'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-msn chart-credential-laddering-nursing-programs chart-credential-laddering-nursing DNPMSNRN to BSNLPN to RN BridgeAccelerated BSNProfessional Nursing ADNPractical Nursing DiplomaPre-LicensurePost-Licensure icon-colored-outline-bank icon-colored-outline-certificate icon-colored-outline-circle-dollar-sign icon-colored-outline-folder-search icon-colored-outline-hand-heart icon-colored-outline-head-blocks icon-colored-outline-head-cog icon-colored-outline-head-heart icon-colored-outline-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-outline-hospital icon-colored-outline-lifelong-learning icon-colored-outline-light-bulb-analytics icon-colored-outline-location-pin icon-colored-outline-maginify-glass icon-colored-outline-magnifying-glass icon-colored-outline-monitor-healthcare icon-colored-outline-monitor-paper-search icon-colored-outline-nurse-rays icon-colored-outline-padlock-shield icon-colored-outline-person-presenter-screen icon-colored-outline-scales icon-colored-advance icon-colored-arrows-cross-curve icon-colored-briefcase-star icon-colored-build icon-colored-bulb-analytics icon-colored-certificate icon-colored-continual-development icon-colored-duo-chatbox icon-colored-folder-mortarboard icon-colored-forward-ribbon icon-colored-gears-clock icon-colored-globe-pen icon-colored-growth icon-colored-hand-bubble icon-colored-hand-stars icon-colored-hands-gear icon-colored-head-blocks icon-colored-head-cog icon-colored-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-hospital-building icon-colored-laptop-cbe-skyscraper icon-colored-laptop-checkmark icon-colored-laptop-webpage icon-colored-location-map icon-colored-location-pin icon-colored-monitor-paper-scan icon-colored-mortarboard-dollar icon-colored-national icon-colored-people-chat-bubbles icon-colored-person-cheer-star icon-colored-person-laptop-checkboxes icon-colored-person-screen-instructor icon-colored-person-whiteboard icon-colored-phone-chatbox icon-colored-police-light icon-colored-prep icon-colored-presenter icon-colored-regional icon-colored-save-time icon-colored-shirt-hat icon-colored-skyscraper icon-colored-state icon-colored-student-centered icon-colored-support icon-colored-world-experience icon-triangle-arrow-up-plant icon-triangle-calendar-pencil icon-triangle-clock-rotating-arrows icon-triangle-display-gears icon-triangle-hand-right-speech-bubble icon-triangle-laptop-coding-brackets icon-triangle-mortarboard icon-triangle-paper-ribbon icon-triangle-person-cheer-star icon-triangle-person-juggle icon-triangle-triple-people-chat-bubble icon-arrow icon-bank icon-camera icon-filter icon-general-chart icon-general-connect icon-general-degree icon-general-discuss icon-general-email icon-general-find icon-general-hat icon-general-heart icon-general-laptop-building icon-general-laptop icon-general-leader icon-general-map icon-general-money icon-general-paperwork icon-general-people icon-general-phone icon-general-speak-out icon-head-heart icon-info-circle icon-mail-forward icon-mglass icon-play-solid icon-quote-mark-left icon-quote-mark-right icon-scales icon-share-square-o icon-simple-chat icon-simple-desktop icon-simple-find icon-simple-hamburger icon-simple-phone icon-spinner icon-tag icon-testimonial-quotes icon-util-checkbox-white icon-util-checkbox icon-util-checked-white icon-util-checked icon-util-chevron-down icon-util-chevron-left icon-util-chevron-right icon-util-chevron-up icon-util-circle-arrow-down icon-util-circle-dot icon-util-language-switch icon-util-loading icon-util-open-window-button icon-util-open-window-link icon-util-pdf-button icon-util-pdf-link icon-util-refresh icon-util-x rebrand-arrows icon-modality-campus icon-modality-field icon-modality-online icon-modality-residential icon-social-facebook-square-colored icon-social-facebook-square icon-social-facebook icon-social-google-plus-square icon-social-google-plus icon-social-instagram icon-social-linkedin-square-colored icon-social-linkedin-square icon-social-linkedin icon-social-pinterest-p icon-social-twitter-square icon-social-twitter icon-social-youtube-play-colored icon-social-youtube-play ras-logo-flame ras-logo-horizontal ras-logo-stacked