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How to Become a Logistician

big trucks with wood

Did you ever wonder how food gets to the grocery store? How all of those products with a “made in China” label get to the Wal-Mart in Anytown, U.S.? It’s all about logistics: getting goods and materials from one place to another in the most efficient way possible while abiding by all governmental regulations. It’s an important job, and, if you enjoy working with lots of details and trouble shooting problems, you may have a great future as a logistician.

What do logisticians do?

Logisticians get things where they need to be. They’re the ones who get products on ships, handle any customers issues, and arrange the routes truck drivers take. Without logisticians, the shelves of your neighborhood grocery might have more than a few empty spots. The details can vary greatly, but common tasks include:

  • Identify all viable methods for transporting the customer’s goods
  • Negotiating contracts for services
  • Working within government regulations
  • Building relationships with customers and suppliers
  • Trying to find ways to reduce both the cost of moving goods and the time required
  • Constantly reviewing procedures to make sure everything is working as it should
  • Recommending improvements
  • Using computer programs to track shipments and inventories

Where and when do logisticians work?

  • Most logisticians spend most of their time in an office, but some travel (including overseas) may be required to meet with a customer or supplier.
  • Logisticians may work in the logistics or supply chain department of a large company, or they may work for an employer who provides logistic support to many customers.
  • Logisticians often work regular office hours. Depending on the employer, there may be night or weekend shifts, and you may need to be on call for emergencies. 

What do logisticians earn?

 


Low end

Mid-range

High end

Salary

$43,000

$74,000

$108,000

What skills do logisticians need?

  • Excellent organizational and problem-solving skills
  • People skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • The ability to stay calm in a crisis
  • Computer skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Good geographical knowledge of your area of operations

What education and training are required?

  • Many logisticians receive their training in the U.S. military, where they regularly manage the movements of both people and materials in all sorts of conditions, but military experience isn’t required.
  • Most employers will want you to have at least an associate’s degree. However, as supply chain issues become more complex, many require a bachelor’s degree in something like business, engineering, or supply chain management.
  • Specific courses may include operations, database management, and supply chain management. You may also be taught how to use the most current technology in supply chain management, such as radio-frequency identification (RFID).
  • Training in sophisticated supply chain management software such as SAP may be required or provided by your employer.

Once you’re working in the industry, your employer may want you to become certified, which you can do either through the American Society of Transportation and Logistics [302 from http://www.astl.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=1] (ASTL) or the International Society of Logistics (SOLE). Certification

What are the job prospects?

The U.S. Department of Labor forecasts that jobs in logistics will increase by 25.5% between now and 2020. That’s an increase of almost 28,000 jobs. 

If you’re organized, enjoy solving problems, and are fascinated by the idea of how goods get from one place to another, you may want to consider a career as a logistician.