Logisticians analyze and coordinate an organization’s supply chain—the system that moves a product from supplier to consumer. They manage the entire life cycle of a product, which includes how a product is acquired, distributed, allocated, and delivered.

Duties

Logisticians typically do the following:

  • Direct the allocation of materials, supplies, and finished products
  • Develop business relationships with suppliers and customers
  • Work to understand customers’ needs and how to meet them
  • Design strategies to minimize the cost or time required to move goods
  • Review the success of logistical functions and identify areas for improvement
  • Propose improvements to management and customers

Logisticians oversee activities that include purchasing, transportation, inventory, and warehousing. They may direct the movement of a range of goods, people, or supplies, from common consumer goods to military supplies and personnel.

Logisticians use sophisticated software systems to plan and track the movement of goods. They operate software programs tailored specifically to manage logistical functions, such as procurement, inventory management, and other supply chain planning and management systems.

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Work Environment

Logisticians held about 125,900 jobs in 2012. 

Although logisticians work in nearly every industry, the majority is concentrated in manufacturing and the federal government. About 25 percent of logisticians worked in manufacturing, and about 23 percent worked in the federal government, many of whom were civilians doing logistical work for the military.

Some logisticians work in the logistical department of a company, and others work for firms that specialize in logistical work, such as a freight-shipping company. The industries that employed the most logisticians in 2012 were as follows:

Manufacturing 25%
Federal government, excluding postal service 23
Professional, scientific, and technical services 17
Transportation equipment manufacturing 11
Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 8

The job can be stressful because logistical work is fast paced. Logisticians must ensure that operations stay on schedule, and they must work quickly to solve any problems that arise. Some logisticians travel to visit manufacturing plants or distribution centers.

Work Schedules

Most logisticians work full time during regular business hours. When dealing with delivery problems or other logistical issues, they may work overtime to ensure that operations stay on schedule.

Education and Training

Although an associate’s degree may be sufficient for some logistician jobs, a bachelor’s degree is typically required for most positions. Work experience in a related field is helpful for jobseekers.

Education

Logisticians may qualify for positions with an associate’s degree. However, as logistics becomes increasingly complex, more companies prefer to hire workers who have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many logisticians have a bachelor’s degree in business, industrial engineering, process engineering, or supply chain management.

Bachelor’s degree programs often include coursework in operations and database management, decisionmaking, and system dynamics. In addition, most programs offer courses that train students on software and technologies commonly used by logisticians, such as radio-frequency identification (RFID).

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Logisticians can obtain certification through the American Society of Transportation and Logistics (ASTL) or the International Society of Logistics (SOLE). The certification offered by each of these organizations typically requires a combination of education, experience, and passing an exam. Although not required, certification can demonstrate professional competence and a broad knowledge of logistics.

Other Experience

Prospective logisticians can benefit from previous work experience in a field related to logistics or business. Because military operations require a large amount of logistics, some logisticians gain work experience while serving in the military. Some firms allow applicants to substitute several years of work experience for a degree.

Personality and Interests

Logisticians typically have an interest in the Persuading and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework. The Persuading interest area indicates a focus on influencing, motivating, and selling to other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.

If you are not sure whether you have a Persuading or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a logistician, you can take a career test to measure your interests.

Logisticians should also possess the following specific qualities:

Communication skills. Logisticians need strong communication skills in order to collaborate with colleagues and do business with suppliers and customers.

Critical-thinking skills. Logisticians must develop, adjust, and successfully carry out logistical plans, and they often must find ways to cut costs and improve efficiency.

Organizational skills. Logisticians must be able to perform several tasks at one time, keep detailed records, and simultaneously manage several projects in a fast-paced environment.

Problem-solving skills. Logisticians must handle unforeseen issues, such as delivery problems, and adjust plans as needed to resolve the issues.

Pay

The median annual wage for logisticians was $72,780 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $45,190, and the top 10 percent earned more than $112,100.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for logisticians in the top five industries employing logisticians were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service $78,000
Aerospace product and parts manufacturing 75,230
Transportation equipment manufacturing 74,210
Manufacturing 71,940
Professional, scientific, and technical services 71,510

Most logisticians work full time during regular business hours. When dealing with delivery problems or other logistical issues, they may work overtime to ensure that operations stay on schedule.

Job Outlook

Employment of logisticians is projected to grow 22 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by the vital role logistics plays in the transportation of goods in a global economy.

Companies rely on logisticians to manage the movement of their products and supplies. Managing their operations in this way allows the companies to compete in a highly globalized market. The performance of the logistical and supply chain process is an important factor in a company’s profitability. Supply and distribution systems have become increasingly complex, with the aim of maximizing efficiency while minimizing cost. Therefore, employment is expected to grow rapidly as companies need more logisticians to move products efficiently, solve problems, and identify areas for improvement.

Governments and the military also rely on logisticians. Planning for and moving military supplies and personnel requires an enormous amount of logistical work. Employment of logisticians in government and contracting firms will continue to grow to meet the needs of the military.

Job Prospects

Job opportunities should be good for those with a bachelor’s degree in business, industrial engineering, process engineering, supply chain management, or a related field.

Job prospects should be best for those with a college degree and work experience related to logistics, particularly previous experience using logistical software or doing logistical work for the military.

For More Information

For more information about logisticians, including certification, visit

American Society of Transportation and Logistics

International Society of Logistics

FAQ

Where does this information come from?

The career information above is taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. This excellent resource for occupational data is published by the U.S. Department of Labor every two years. Truity periodically updates our site with information from the BLS database.

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I am not sure if this career is right for me. How can I decide?

There are many excellent tools available that will allow you to measure your interests, profile your personality, and match these traits with appropriate careers. We recommend the Career Personality Profiler assessment ($29), the Holland Code assessment ($19), or the Photo Career Quiz (free).