According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for logisticians is skyrocketing, with growth projected at 26% through 2020. Careers in logistics provide entry into the inner workings of small manufacturing and supply businesses, medium sized merchandisers, or global enterprises with supply lines crossing international time zones. In fact, many of today’s online mega merchandisers serve mostly as logistical middlemen.
What is Logistics?
Logistics is the management, or most importantly, integration of all the steps performed and decisions made to make a business supply chain—from raw materials to delivered product—efficient and cost-effective. A factory in the U.S. needs parts from a supplier in the EU, India, Indonesia or China. A global online merchandiser must ship products around the world almost overnight. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the military must regularly cope with sudden logistical dilemmas.
What do Logisticians do?
Logisticians address these and similar scenarios. The logistician provides an integrated plan for the myriad of behind the scene processes that make the chain work. However, the work of the logisticians is almost invisible. Observers only note that people and things are where they should be, when they should be; all materials passing along a planned supply chain that operates without unexpected delays or costs.
For example, the U.S. Marine Corp is overhauling its massive supply chains. The old Marine Corp supply chain involved more than two hundred separate logistics applications, with little integration between them. Thus far, marine logisticians and consultants have scrapped 36 legacy systems in an ongoing effort to integrate these sprawling systems into a new logistical infrastructure.
Logistics is often broken down into superficial supply chain concepts that hide the complexities of the necessary plans, forecasts, and financial considerations involved in the chains success. Much happens that is not evident in a simple record of requisition forms and delivery receipts.
Fleet management for inbound and outbound transportation or management of third party logistics service providers are supply chain functions of concern to logisticians. Global responsibilities might include container shipping and contacting international shippers or ocean freight forwarders.
Additional duties can include management of materials handling in warehousing, order fulfillment, and more. On a long-term basis, logisticians are often concerned with efficiency of network design. Of particular concern is supply and demand planning for inventory and production scheduling. The goal of much of effort is to meet present and future customer needs.
The U.S. Department of Labor estimated that employment for logisticians would increase by over 25 percent between 2010 and 2020 with the addition of almost 30,000 logistician jobs. Median salaries for logisticians are $70,800, with 10% earning more than $108,000.
Business organizations realize that their overall success rests on the competent management of its supply chain to enhance productivity, performance, return on investment (ROI), and growth. A strategic logistical plan aims for the correct combination of people, technology and systems-design to compete in an increasingly global marketplace.
Manufacturing or retail businesses offer numerous positions; however, logistical planning is equally necessary in business areas like energy, communications, finance, IT, government and more. Many businesses—even small ones—with an international footprint are in need of trained global logisticians. Some career descriptions include: Logistics Analyst, Transportation Manager, Logistics Manager, Supply Chain Manager, Materials Purchasing Manager, Inventory Manager, Distribution Manager and more.
Training should start with a Bachelor of Science in Business, Process Engineering, Industrial Engineering or Supply-Chain Management. To ascend into upper management ranks, many working logisticians pursue an MBA with a Logistics Concentration.
Course work in a logistics concentration would include courses in: Logistics Management, Integrated Logistics Management, Supply-Chain Management in Online Environments, Service Operations Management, Managing Supply Chain Quality and Global Value Chain Management. Coursework also covers accounting, economics, marketing, decision-making, business research methods and the newest supply chain management (SCM) and inventory-control software.
Gary Gardner is a logistics Houston specialist with Hawthorne Global.