Logistician Career Guide

female logistician checking supplies

Table of Contents

Overview

Job Responsibilities

  • Manage a product’s entire life cycle from development to maintenance, and up until its disposal
  • Decide on and direct the allocation of resources such as materials, supplies, and products
  • Develop business relationships with suppliers and clients
  • Understand the needs of clients and find ways on how to meet them
  • Review logistical functions within the company and identify areas where logistical performance can be improved
  • Propose strategies to minimize the cost, resources or time required to transport goods

How Much Does a Logistician Make?

Logisticians made a median salary of $74,600 in 2018. The best-paid 10 percent made $119,950 that year, while the lowest-paid 10 percent made $44,440.

Common Requirements

  • Associate degree for entry-level positions
  • Bachelor’s degree (for more companies that have more complex responsibilities for their logisticians) in business, systems engineering, or supply chain management
  • Coursework in system dynamics and operations and database management
  • Training on software and technologies commonly used by logisticians, such as radio-frequency identification (RFID)
  • Optional certifications through APICS or the International Society of Logistics (SOLE)
  • For positions under the Department of Defense acquisitions, certifications are available from the Defense Acquisition University (DAU)
  • Relevant work experience in the field of logistics, supply chains, or business
  • Experience while working in a logistical support role, such as dispatchers and clerks or while serving in the military

Similar Careers

Cost Estimators

Industrial Engineer Technicians

Industrial Engineers

Industrial Production Managers

Management Analysts

Meeting, Convention, and Event Planners

Operations Research Analysts

Purchasing Managers

Purchasing Agents

Quality Control Inspectors

Common Skills

Problem-solving

Project management

Planning 

Communication 

Customer service

Critical thinking

Conflict management

MEDIAN SALARY

$74,600 per year $35.86 per hour

JOB OUTLOOK

5%

NUMBER OF JOBS

174,900

A Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Logistician

If you are fascinated by how products start in factories and end up in stores, this career will surely excite you. Logisticians are the people behind the scenes, ensuring that products experience a safe and smooth transition from manufacturing to delivery. The next time you walk through a department store or a grocery aisle, take a moment to appreciate the logisticians that managed the entire supply chains to make sure that the products you see end up on those shelves.

What Does a Logistician Do?

Logisticians are responsible for coordinating a company’s supply chain. They ensure that products move through manufacturing up until distribution. They oversee this process and continuously find ways to improve it while keeping setbacks and errors at bay. Here are some of a logistician’s detailed obligations:

  • Manage a product’s entire life cycle from development to maintenance, and up until its disposal
  • Decide on and direct the allocation of resources such as materials, supplies, and products
  • Develop business relationships with suppliers and clients
  • Understand the needs of clients and find ways on how to meet them
  • Review logistical functions within the company and identify areas where logistical performance can be improved
  • Propose strategies to minimize the cost, resources or time required to transport goods

Signs You Should Consider Becoming a Logistician

Some several traits and characteristics make a person the perfect candidate to become a logistician. If you think you have several or all of the following qualities, you might just be cut out for the job:

You have the ability to see the big picture in different situations

Logisticians take care of a product’s entire processes from beginning up until the end. It is, therefore, a great advantage if you can zoom out and see the whole process all at once. Being able to see the big picture puts processes into perspective and allows you to prepare for consecutive steps and possibly plan ahead for any setbacks. 

Logisticians who have this valuable ability usually got it from experience on previous work, combined with critical thinking and the right amount of prudence. Through it, you can ensure a process flow that is as fluid as possible despite any hiccupsthanks to your foresight. 

Stress doesn’t bring you down

Many things can go wrong within the chain of logistics. If you think about the process of production, packaging, and shipment, you can already tell that there are so many opportunities for things to go south. Pair the stress of the process by having to deal with people internally within the organization and externally with the client baseyou have the perfect recipe for a stressful environment.

A good logistician doesn’t easily get fazed by all the stress. You should be able to embrace the contingencies and demands as part of the job. If you are someone who manages stress well, you might even enjoy the thrill and excitement that come with this job. 

You are honest

During the course of a logistician’s job, many circumstances may tempt a person to throw in a seemingly-harmless little white lie. However, utmost honesty and transparency is the only way you can genuinely succeed in this field of work. Small tweaks in information such as delivery delays, production schedules, and the likes to save face and promote the illusion of perfection and consistency will eventually bite you back in the future one way or another.

Knowing that even the smallest and most innocent-looking lie can spell future disaster in the job helps successful logisticians keep faith with the truth for the more significant and long-term good of their work. Besides, becoming known as someone who lies about the information on the job does not paint a pretty picture for just about any profession out there. It loses your employer’s confidence in you, but more importantly, your clients’ trust as well.

You seek ways to improve constantly

You need to have a love of learning and a sense of competition when it comes to becoming a good logistician. Although the work may seem repetitive and the process may be a bit predictable in practice, you must continuously be on the lookout for better ways that can speed up the process or create a flow that is more manageable, or cost-effective.

You need to understand that the role in this position is not limited to merely getting things up and running. You also have the responsibility of making assessments of the current logistics, identifying areas for improvement, and even devising improvement plans that you think might benefit your organization.

You exude grace under pressure

As explained above, the role will include a ton of stress, which not many are able to handle effectively. Dealing with the stresses and set-backs of the job efficiently while being calm and composed is additionally important in this job. Exuding composure allows you to direct the flow of things more efficiently than bustling around in a state of panic. You should have a mind that is clear enough to make urgent decisions that could make or break a process.

Another reason why it is crucial to be calm under pressure as a logistician is because you are also dealing with co-workers and clients who might be put off with a lack of composure as such may be viewed as a lack of competence. 

You are adaptable

The quantity and magnitude of changes that logisticians encounter throughout their careers are simply too massive. The history of logistics dates back farther into the ancient era, and man of the foundations of what we know today has been set on those times. However, modernization and the process of learning from experiences introduced so many changes along the way. These changes continue to trickle into the concept even today, and most likely, as we progress further.

The reason for all of the changes is that there are always better systems being developed, and none of the new systems are immune to flaws. Therefore, to succeed in this career, a sense of adaptability and resilience is vital.

warehouse logistician at work

How Do You Become a Logistician?

Becoming a logistician is quite a straightforward path. You complete an education, gain experience, and get certified. Then you are free to apply to any logistics job that you want. Below are the steps you need to accomplish in detail:

1. Complete relevant education 

Some companies that hire entry-level logisticians who have limited responsibility accept applicants that are graduates of associate degrees. However, a bachelor’s degree might be more apt for roles that undertake more complicated logistics and bigger supply chains. Typically, many logisticians finish a degree in supply chain management, business, or systems engineering.

The programs mentioned above offer courses in database management, system dynamics, and operations managementall of which are essential in the work of a logistician. Additionally, you can also take up courses on specific technologies such as software commonly used in the job, such as RFID or Radio Frequency Identification.

2. Gain work experience in related fields

Even with just an associate degree, you can bag a job and advance in it as long as you have the right kind of experience. Relevant jobs such as those in logistical support can be useful when aiming to apply as a logistician in the future. Examples of logistics supporting workers are clerks and dispatchers. You can also gain similar experience in the military. Basically, any role or experience that allows you to learn about the supply chain and the production process can count as relevant experience.

Having relevant job experience works well to your advantage because not only will you have an idea of how the supply chain and production work, but you will have also developed the valuable skill of foresight, knowing the processes at hand.

3. Get certified

Certifications are not required when applying for a job as a logistician. However, being certified by an accrediting body shows potential employers and clients how seriously you take the job. It also showcases competence in terms of knowledge and skills that are relevant to the role you are about to play. Below are some of the bodies you can apply for certification as a logistician:

What are the Knowledge and Skills Needed to be a Logistician?

If you want to work in the field of logistics and supply chain, here are the skills that you need to possess to succeed at the job:

Project management

Logisticians manage several projects simultaneously, mainly when employed in more giant corporations. They should, therefore, be efficient project managers who know how to keep detailed and concise records, handle people and processes, and work well despite having multiple tasks at hand. Being an efficient project manager also means that you can either multi-task comfortably or have an effective system in organizing functions that allows you to accomplish more.

Problem-solving

Working as a logistician means being prepared for anything that could go wrong within the supply chain. There is so much room for error that you should be able to foresee and, at the same time, know how to address accordingly. Your problem-solving skills must be top-notch and swift enough to swoop down on contingencies and address them before they do any serious damage to the whole process.

Communication 

A person in this position will need to do a whole lot of collaboration and teamwork between colleagues, suppliers, and customers. Communication skills should be strong and versatile enough to address the communication needs of each group of people that you are dealing with to produce the best results.

Customer Service

Customer feedback is a valuable resource in the work of a logistician. Knowing the customers’ needs and concerns lets you know the right flow and other particulars involved in the movement of a product between suppliers and consumers. The innate knowledge that you have about the products and the systems in place, combined with consumer feedback, produces optimum advantage in terms of knowing what to improve in the supply chain. It can easily spell success and improvement in your processes. 

Critical thinking

As a logistician, you are continually looking for ways to improve the flow of your workwhether it’s about increasing efficiency or saving on time and costs. Additionally, you are constantly devising, refining, and implementing logistical plans—which all involve a fair amount of critical thinking.

Below are some of the best schools that offer undergraduate studies in Supply Chain Management and Logistics:

  • Michigan State University -East Lansing, MI
  • Arizona State University -Tempe, AZ
  • Pennsylvania State UNiveristy -University Park, PA
  • Ohio State University -Columbus, OH
  • University of Michigan -Ann Arbor, MI
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology -Cambridge, MA
  • University of Tennessee -Knoxville, TN
  • Georgia Institute of Technology -Atlanta, GA
  • Carnegie Mellon University -Pittsburgh, PA
  • University of Texas -Austin, TX
  • Purdue University -West LaFayette, IN
  • University of Pennsylvania -Philadelphia, PA

For degrees in Systems Engineering, you can look for programs under these top schools:

  • Georgia Institute of Technology -Atlanta, GA
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology -Cambridge, MA
  • Stanford University -Stanford, CA
  • University of Pennsylvania -Philadelphia, PA
  • University of Wisconsin -Madison, WI
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University -Blacksburg, VA

Get 30 days fREE All Access Pass and learn from over 1,000 online video courses

logisticians in a warehouse

How to Get a Job as a Logistician

Logisticians have a job outlook of a 5% growth rate until the year 2028. That is just about as fast as the average job outlook for all other professions in the US. Still, you might see that finding a job as a logistician is not too difficult if you look into the following platforms:

Look up Jobs In Logistics

Jobs in Logistics is probably the top of mind site when searching for logistics jobs. It is the first and largest online job board that caters to the logistics field, including positions in the supply chain, distribution, manufacturing, warehousing, freight forwarding, inventory management, and purchasing. They have connections to tens of thousands of employers and aim to help with the placement of logistics professionals. They have affiliations with big names such as FedEx, Target, Nestlé, and American Shipping Company.

Explore other job posting websites

You can also find logistics careers in other job posting websites. In fact, there are thousands of relevant jobs for this field available in these sites:

Check for openings in the government

If your dream is to work for the federal government, you can check out USAJobs. It is an official website of the United States government under the Office of Personnel Management that offers jobs for the general public within the federal government. It works just like any other online job platform that allows you to find and mark jobs that you like, upload your resume and credentials for potential employers to see, and apply for the jobs that you want. They also host career fairs which have schedules posted on the website.

What is unique about USA Jobs is that they segment applicant populations into hiring paths like veterans, senior executives, students, current and former federal employees, and individuals with disabilities.

Learn About Geographic and Location Pay Differentials

Logisticians have a median annual wage of $74,600. That is significantly above the US median average of roughly $50,000. Logisticians are well-compensated, and depending on location, they might earn more than the average American worker. If you want to know the best states to work and earn as a logistician, scan through the pay differentials table below:

State2018 Mean Annual Wage
Rhode Island$105730
Maryland$91710
Washington$90240
Alabama$87600
Alaska$86860
Texas$86500
Virginia$86230
Hawaii$84540
California$84260
New Jersey$84240
New Mexico$80400
Pennsylvania$80370
Michigan$80150
Wyoming$79020
Louisiana$79010
Massachusetts$78910
Connecticut$77940
North Carolina$76600
Missouri$76540
New York$76240
Ohio$76090
Colorado$75700
Oregon$75260
Minnesota$75250
Mississippi$75200
State2018 Mean Annual Wage
Oklahoma$75160
Arizona$74780
Idaho$74700
South Dakota$73940
Utah$73860
Kentucky$73610
Kansas$72990
Nevada$72790
New Hampshire$71930
Montana$71800
Georgia$70900
Indiana$70830
Maine$70620
Vermont$70590
Arkansas$70320
West Virginia$69620
Florida$69100
Guam$68610
South Carolina$68280
Illinois$67490
North Dakota$64300
Iowa$63560
Wisconsin$62690
Tennessee$61940
Nebraska$58920

Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Make Your Resume Stand Out

These are a few tips you can apply to make your resume is appealing to potential employers:

1. Study the job requirements

Before clicking the “apply to this job” button, ask yourself whether you’ve thoroughly reviewed the job requirements and applied what is needed to your resume. If you read through and review the job description in the job post, chances are, you will find some golden nuggets ready for picking. Find out exactly what the employer wants and give it to them. Do they want a detail-oriented, time-conscious, systematic implementer? Or a driven, intuitive, self-sufficient leader? Match up their requirements with the skills and traits that you have, and you’ll instantly make them feel like they are looking at the employee of their dreams when they read through your resume.

2. Maximize logistics-related keywords

Did you know that keywords play an essential role in the modern-day hiring process? Employers have long been using scanning technology to look for keyword-specific items in their resume pool. There is a long list of more than 40 keywords related to supply chain and logistics, and many of them are along the lines of management, improvement, negotiation, planning, and compliance.

3. Use an eye-friendly format

Nobody wants to read through an eyesore resumethe boring, winding ones that you simply can’t stand. If you’re not careful about layout and visuals, that might hurt your chances of getting called for an interview. It might even result in your resume being entirely ignored. Research on the best modern resume formats and see which ones can accommodate your details perfectly. The use of breaks, bullets, and visuals make your resume more dynamic, engaging, and easy to scan.

4. Begin with the end

A reverse chronological resume is often an instant crowd-pleaser. Most hiring managers, executives, and HR managers seem to be drawn to this type of format. It gives them a clear narrative of your career, and you can place your best foot forward right at the top of the page. However, be forewarned that this format might not be best if you are switching career fields, hopping into the workforce after a lengthy break, or just fresh out of college. But with the right educational background and relevant current experience, beginning with the end can hook that employer to you.

Ace Your Logistician Interview

Logistics is such a technical field that there are a full host of terminologies and systems that you have to be familiar with to be labeled as competent for the job. Your logistician interview will most likely include questions that test your knowledge of logistics and the supply chain with questions like the following:

1. What is supply chain management?

It integrates planning, implementation, and control of the flow of raw materials, services, and information into finished goods for distribution to the consumers.

2. What does deadweight tonnage mean?

It is the weight of all the contents of a ship, not including the weight of the ship itself.

3. How do you organize storage for bulk items?

Either in a vertical or straight direction, piling containers over one another, or at an angle for instances where there is limited storage space for containers. The former is most commonly applied, while the latter is only done in instances where it is mostly applicable.

4. What are the contents of a bill of lading?

  • Complete names and addresses of shippers and receivers
  • Order tracking numbers issued by businesses
  • Instruction for the carrier for secure delivery
  • Date of the shipment
  • Number of shipping units
  • Types of packaging such as cartons, pallets, skids, and drums
  • Description of the shipped items (common name & material)
  • Declared value of the goods being shipped
  • Note included in the event of the presence of any hazardous substance in it
  • The exact weight of the shipments, with every different commodity measured and labeled individually
  • NMFC Freight classification of the items 

5. What is the basis of freight class?

  • Density or weight per cubic foot
  • Freight Stowability which measures the width and length of a carrier
  • Ease of handling which evaluates the amount of effort required in transporting
  • Liability which includes liability to damage, breakability, perishability, freight price per pound and susceptibility of theft

6. What do APS, ASN, and ASRS stand for?

  • APS stands for Advance Planning and Scheduling
  • ASN stands for Advanced Shipment Notifications
  • ASRS is Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems

Top Online Courses for Aspiring Logisticians

Sharpen your skills in Logistics by taking these top online courses

Logisticians are constantly keeping up with the changes in the field and continuously finding ways to improve not just their companies’ respective supply chains, but also themselves. To keep abreast with the updates and challenges that the job might bring, here are some courses that could help you out:

Customer Reviews

George
George
Read More
Course: Introduction To Databases With SQL

"Thank you SkillSuccess and John Elder God bless both of you guys! Guys, you should take this course immediately and good luck."
Ruth Ludlum
Ruth Ludlum
Read More
Course: Master The Fundamentals Of SQL With Python

" If you want a quick tutorial of SQL including bootup of the environment, this course is perfect for you."
Sheila Weaver
Sheila Weaver
Read More
Course: How to Become a Successful Event Planner

"This course had a wealth of useful information, good tips! So ready to get started."
Vivekanand
Vivekanand
Read More
Course: ITIL Foundation Certification Part 1: Core Concepts

"Very good and informative."
Patrice
Patrice
Read More
Course: How to Become a Successful Event Planner

"This course was very helpful! Had a lot of useful information, good tips!"
Lisa
Lisa
Read More
Course: How to Become a Successful Event Planner

"A good value for time and money investment. Received good tips on website and internet tools as well as various forms to download and print. Thank you!"
Previous
Next

Ready to move up in your career?

Advance your skills with 30 days free of All Access Pass and learn from over 1,000 online video courses