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Things You Need to Know About a Career in Logistics

While it’s doubtful that many young people actually grow up considering the possibility of a career in logistics, once you do become familiar with the responsibilities and opportunities in the field, it can become a fascinating and lucrative choice. People working in logistics for a company are charged with creating and maintaining that company’s supply chain, which is the flow of goods in and out of an organization, up to the final delivery to the customer.

Some of the skills required for this kind of job are the ability to develop and maintain relationships with vendors and suppliers, the ability to monitor shipments of materials for on time deliveries, and ensuring that supply chain costs are kept manageable for the company. This, however, is just a broad overview of what you might expect to encounter as a logistician. There are several additional aspects to the job described below, which might increase your interest and help you decide on a career in logistics.

Huge demand for Logisticians

As mentioned above, not many people grow up thinking about a career in logistics, and as a result, the field is grossly under-served. Since it’s one of those positions that is infrequently considered, the vast majority of business professionals overlook it entirely and instead consider careers in finance or marketing.

The net result of all this is that there are very few qualified professionals to fill available spots for companies in need of logisticians. A recent article appearing on Fortune.com revealed just how serious the shortfall is, stating that in 2018 there would be a shortage of 1.4 million logisticians in the US. From that standpoint alone, there are a wealth of opportunities in the field that should not be overlooked.

One of the top Jobs in the US

In an article appearing in U.S. News & World Report, the profession of logistician was ranked the sixth Best Business Job to have in the country. The criteria used to make this kind of evaluation included average salaries, stress levels, and prospects for employment. When all these components are factored into the job, it’s very easy to see why a career in logistics is ranked so highly and is considered such a desirable position to hold in a company.

Logistics Positions are Critical to Business Success

While it’s not a glamorous or sexy career that gets a lot of attention, logistics is an absolutely essential component of big business in the modern world. The transportation system in the US routinely moves a whopping 60 million tons of freight every year, and the dollar value of all that freight is somewhere in the neighborhood of $70 billion. Every year in the US, logistics costs exceed $1 trillion, and they continue to rise. From a financial perspective alone, it’s obvious that logistics plays a critical role in the daily conduct of business in America.

Flexible work locations

Unlike typical office workers, logisticians might be required to work from any one of a variety of locations, and may also spend some time traveling, to consult with vendors or other members of their supply chain. It’s possible that you might work in an office setting, but it’s just as possible that you might have to perform your function at a factory or at some kind of distribution center.

On any given day, you might have to be at a specific location anywhere within your entire supply chain. When you’re interviewing for a logistics job, this would be an important point to discuss, so you have an understanding of your work life.

Logistics can be a high-pressure job but with great upside potential

Since there are so many moving parts throughout the supply chain which depend on a logistician for coordination, it frequently happens that pressure builds up and comes down squarely on the shoulders of the logistician. There will constantly be a large number of people who are depending on you and your performance. 

Even the most diligent and accomplished logistician sometimes runs into difficult situations that take a great deal of patience and knowledge to resolve. However, if you can survive the first few years of managing logistics in the trenches, most solid performers can be promoted relatively quickly into more senior roles.

Education is critical

Logistics is the kind of a career that is somewhat difficult to transfer laterally to another field. It’s always best to get the educational background you need for this kind of career before embarking on logistics as a profession. A recent survey taken on the subject of education and logistics showed that hiring managers prefer that all candidates for business logistics positions have at least a Bachelor’s Degree entering the field.

Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics points out that while some candidates have secured positions in logistics with no more than an Associate’s Degree, the increasing complexity of the job and new tech tools requires for more advanced education and training.

While the concept of logistics might be fairly simple in its broadest context, the daily requirements and necessities of managing the supply chain of a large organization can become extraordinarily complex and demanding, which is why candidates with at least a Bachelor’s Degree are now the preferred candidates that are being recruited. 

Understanding Supply Chain Management

To extend the notion about how important education is in this field, it is absolutely essential for a candidate to have a thorough understanding of how supply chains work, and all relevant aspects of supply chain management. Even though logistics is one of the most critical aspects of supply chain management, it does not constitute the entire picture, and there are other factors which must be mastered in order to be effective and excel in the position.

It’s essential that a logistician know how all the parts interact with each other so that it’s easier to manage those parts. In addition to course materials provided by programs in logistics at universities, there are some independent educational courses which specifically address supply-chain management in all its forms and complexities. The APICS program is one of the best of these independent courses, and it should be one of the sources considered by candidates aspiring to a career in logistics.

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