Logistician Job Description
Logisticians see products through from start to finish. They are there at the beginning when items are being designed and raw materials acquired, there in the middle through production stages, and there in the end when final products are shipped to stores or warehouses. Through all these stages, logisticians keep an eye on factors such as cost and time.
Logisticians tend to work full-time in a fast-paced environment. Traveling to manufacturing plants or distribution centers can be part of the job. Logisticians may work for an individual company overseeing that employer’s products and distribution. Others work for freight companies that move around supplies and items for various different organizations. About 20 percent of logisticians work for the federal government in areas such as military and humanitarian efforts. Some of the highest paid logisticians work in oil and gas extraction or in highway, street, and bridge construction. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the overall job prospects for logisticians to grow 7 percent between 2016 and 2026, mostly due to the expansion of the global economy.
Logistician Duties and Responsibilities
Whether ensuring water bottles get to the people who need them after a hurricane or dolls arrive at stores in time for Black Friday, logisticians work behind the scenes to gather necessary items and move them where they need to be. Such responsibility requires performance of a variety of actions. A scan of job postings reveals the following to be among the core tasks:
Logisticians bring everything together. For a military operation, for instance, they may first check on the progress of manufacturing desired supplies. Then, they figure out how to transport those items overseas in a timely manner. Lastly, they arrange distribution to soldiers.
Logisticians develop relationships with suppliers and clients. They discuss needs and how best to meet them. For example, a logistician may aid a manufacturer who needs a large number of a specific type of battery for a new product in finding a company that can supply that quantity within a certain amount of time.
Logisticians constantly have their eyes on the most efficient ways to do things and collect detailed records of costs, orders, shipping, and billing. They evaluate cost-effectiveness, look for better shipping options, and stay current on progress in logistics technology.
Logisticians are problem solvers with awesome organizational skills. They need these qualities to deal with the complexities of supply chains, military operations, or relief projects. Other great abilities for logisticians to possess include:
- Displaying calmness under pressure since the job frequently involves stressful situations
- Attending to detail so that mistakes aren’t made and operations thrown off course
- Prioritizing to make sure the most pressing issues are accomplished first
- Communicating clearly in both oral and written form
Logistician Tools of the trade
People planning on becoming logisticians should be familiar with the following:
- Radio frequency identification (RFID) – technology that uses radio waves to automatically identify people or objects through information stored on a microchip
- Inventory control software – used to track orders and control stock
- Supply chain – everything involved in moving a product from supplier to customer
- PBUSE – technology used by the military to track assets and automate property accountability processes
- Logistical reports – written updates given regularly by logisticians to managers, clients, and other interested parties regarding where things stand
Logistician Education and Training
While some logisticians find work with only an associate’s degree, job prospects increase greatly with a bachelor’s degree in a field such as business, systems engineering, or supply chain management. Managers often hold an MBA. Employers also sometimes like to see professional certification, such as through APICS or the International Society of Logistics (SOLE). Obtaining such credentials involve meeting educational and work experience standards and passing an exam.
The median annual salary for logisticians is $74,170. Logisticians in the 10th percentile earn about $45,300 a year, and the highest paid make in excess of $117,300 a year. Logisticians in the District of Columbia, Alabama, and Maryland make the highest median salaries in the U.S. – $99,700, $87,890, and $87,840, respectively.
Get your logistician career off to a great start with advice from these helpful organizations and books:
Logistics and Supply Chain Professionals – This LinkedIn group of more than 266,000 serves as a forum to share knowledge and encourage discussion about issues in the logistics industry.
APICS – Check out this organization’s website for the latest on supply chain management as well as for a variety of career-advancing opportunities, such as finding a mentor, continuing education, and becoming certified.
The International Society of Logistics – Another well-known professional society, SOLE dates back to 1966 and has chapters in more than 50 countries. Its various meetings and workshops help members fulfill the group’s mission of “engaging in educational, scientific, and literary endeavors to advance the art of logistics technology and management.”
Warehousing Education and Research Council (WERC) – Known as “the only professional organization focused on logistics management and its role in the supply chain,” WERC says it assists “those new to the industry master best practices and establish valuable professional relationships.” Its online career center helps match talent with opportunities, and its resources for job seekers includes advice on résumés, interviews, digital presence, and advancement.
International Logistics: The Management of International Trade Operations – This textbook, which is in its 4th edition, thoroughly handles issues concerning international logistics, including “terms of payment, terms of trade, exchange rate, exposure hedges, international insurance, customs clearance, agency and distributorship sales contracts, packaging, transportation, and security issues.”
Health and Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chains: A Career for Women – When disasters strike, logisticians figure out how to get supplies to those in need. This book explores how to get started as a logistician for humanitarian efforts, what a “day in the life” looks like, and what challenges particularly face women pursuing such a career.
Logisticians Career Video – Get a first-hand look at what logisticians do with this video put out by CareerOneStop.
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