According to Michigan State University, the demand for educated supply chain professionals exceeds the supply six to one. What that means is that there are many more careers in logistics and supply chain management than qualified people to do those jobs, which provides a large number of high-paying positions that employers are eager to fill. If you meet the requirements, and you’re ready to bring your passion and enthusiasm with you onto the team, you could make a considerable salary working in the logistics and supply chain industries.
Logistics is a diverse field with many options for careers and personal development. With so many choices to pick from, it’s important to do your research and find the position that best suits your skills.
If you’ve just started looking for a job, a career in logistics or supply chain management probably wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. You may even be a little confused about the difference between those two terms, or what either of them even means.
To make things even more confusing, some people claim that logistics and supply chain management are interchangeable terms, but they describe very different concepts. To break it down, here are some definitions to get you started.
Supply chain management describes the entire complicated network of manufacturers, suppliers, carriers, wholesalers, and others, that all work together to make the business function. The supply chain process follows the product all the way from manufacture to delivery to the final customer and encompasses all the different jobs that allow that to happen. The primary goal of supply chain management is to create a business strategy that is streamlined and competitive.
Logistics, on the other hand, is only one step in the supply chain process. It describes the movement, storage, and distribution of goods, services, and information from one point to another. This could mean the shipment of raw materials to a factory or the delivery of finished products into and out of a distribution center. The main goal of logistics jobs is to assist the customer in any way possible and get their goods delivered in a timely and efficient manner.
If you’re a recent graduate, or if you’ve never worked in logistics or supply chain management, you’re going to need to find an entry-level position. These jobs do not require prior experience and often come with on the job training. Because of the highly structured nature of logistics and supply chain management, there is plenty of room for individual growth within the company. If you stick with a position, you’re likely to encounter opportunities for advancement.
Logistics account executives are among the most in-demand positions in the logistics industry. As an account executive, it would be your job to represent the company you work for, by serving as the primary point of contact for your customers. You would bring new customers to the company and build your own personal portfolio by bringing in prospective customers with sales calls.
Once you have your personal book of business filled out, you will work to maintain a positive relationship with your clients and manage their shipments. It is up to you to communicate with everyone in the supply chain to ensure that the customers’ shipments are moved and received efficiently.
In addition to a regular salary, most logistics account executives make money on commission, so if you’re a driven, hard-working individual, you can make extra money by going above and beyond expectations.
While an associate’s degree will improve your likelihood of success in this position, a high school education is all most companies require.
As a warehouse operative, it would be your job to ensure that everything goes smoothly inside the warehouse. You would likely be tasked with picking and packing orders, keeping paperwork, managing stock, forklift operation, and quality control. A certain amount of heavy lifting may also be required.
The most important duty for warehouse operatives is keeping a meticulous record of all the goods stored in the warehouse, to ensure that each item is accounted for and can be located as quickly as possible. Being able to organize products to maximize space is another important skill.
If you’re a visual person, good at working on teams, and good at keeping track of things, you might just excel as a warehouse operative. There are no educational requirements for working in this position, though knowledge of operating a forklift and managing data will improve your chance of success.
An inventory specialist is a lot like a warehouse operative in many ways, though their job tends to involve a more technical aspect. If you worked as an inventory specialist, it would be your job to keep a detailed record of the warehouse’s entire inventory and input that information on a database. You would need to understand how to analyze and utilize the data you collect, to ensure that the materials planners can make the most educated decisions about restocking the facilities.
A high school education is all that is required for this job, but other qualifications can improve your application. You will need to be in good health, since you will have to move around the warehouse and potentially lift heavy boxes. You should also be decent at quick math, and be able to recognize trends in data. And as with many other positions, good communication skills will really make you stand out from the crowd.
Transportation agents, also called freight agents, have one of the most important jobs in the logistics business. As a transportation agent, it would be your job to communicate with the customers
to learn about what they are shipping, what their budget is, and what their deadline is. Using this information, you would determine which mode of transportation would be best for each shipment based on the customer’s needs.
In short, it would be your job to ultimately get the freight from one place to another, by arranging customer orders with various methods of transportation. You would also be responsible for handling any legal documentation required for transportation, on behalf of your customer.
Depending on the company, a high school degree is usually enough to get a job as a transportation agent, but be prepared for some extensive job training. Some situations may require you to get licensed by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Association (FMCSA), depending on the type of freight being moved. Often, transportation agents are contracted by freight brokers, which provides them with liability insurance, licensing rights, and several other benefits.
Production analysts, otherwise known as market research analysts, have the job of deciding what a company should produce more of. As a production analyst, it would be your duty to research the market to determine what people want. You would do this by following and forecasting sales trends, researching customer demographics, and measuring the success of advertising campaigns.
A big part of the production analyst job is collecting data, with surveys, focus groups, and other methods. That data would then have to be converted into easily readable graphs, charts, and diagrams, in order for other department managers to make use of the research findings
The tasks required of a production analyst generally set the educational expectations relatively high. Almost all employers require at least a bachelor’s degree in mathematics or market research, though some jobs may require a master’s degree. If you are an analytical person with strong math skills, this might just be the position for you.
As a freight broker, it would be your job to help your customers negotiate with different carrier companies to get them the best deal. You would represent the shipper, and serve as the primary point of communication between them and the carrier companies.
This job requires many different skill sets, from marketing and sales strategies, to direct price comparisons and risk-benefit analysis capabilities. You would need to deal with finances, like invoicing your client and paying carriers on behalf of them, as well as handle the legal documentation. Your job would be multifaceted and complicated, but highly rewarding.
There are no strict educational requirements, so in general, you could qualify with just a high school education and a little bit of brokerage training. However, in order to be allowed to legally operate as a freight broker, you would need to be licensed by the FMCSA, and you would need a surety bond for each agreement you make. There are tens of thousands of different kinds of surety bonds, so you will need to be well educated on what each of them covers, and how the laws for surety bonds differ between state lines.
Once you have worked in an entry-level position for some time, depending on your performance, you may be able to find a position a little higher up the chain of command. Many of these positions are highly technical or management-level jobs and require a considerable amount of industry knowledge. If you think you’re ready to take your career to the next level, take a look at the high-level careers in logistics and supply chain management.
Logisticians may also be called logistics analysts, logistics managers, or logistics operation managers. As a logistician, you would be required to monitor and record anything that can be recorded throughout the entire supply chain in order to find inefficiencies in the system. Your day to day responsibilities would involve monitoring processes, gathering data, and analysing trends, to get a better idea of how the company is operating.
Logisticians may also work with other managers in the company, in order to design better systems, allocate resources, and ultimately improve the company’s entire supply chain process.
In order to become a logistician, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in engineering, mathematics, or a logistics or business related field. Some degree of experience working in logistics jobs is required, but the more years you have worked in the industry, the better your chances of being hired for this position.
The senior account executive position is the most logical promotion from the entry-level account executive position. As a senior account executive, your primary job would be to supervise a team of other account executives. You would set sales goals and deadlines, and monitor your team’s overall performance. You would be responsible for reprimanding or rewarding the individuals on your team based on their performance.
In addition to that, any problems that arise with the customers would be forwarded to you to handle. If a customer is unsatisfied or angry, you may need to take over the call to resolve their concerns.
This position is most often awarded to regular account executives that excel in management and customer service, but you may be able to get ahead of the rest if you have a bachelor’s degree in sales or business.
Warehouse operations managers have a long list of responsibilities. As a warehouse operations manager, it would be your job to hire, train, manage, and supervise the warehouse operatives, and ensure that everyone is working effectively and following protocols. You would ensure that legal safety regulations are in place and that the warehouse is safe and secure at all times, to protect both your employees and your customers’ product.
In addition to those duties, it would also be your responsibility to ensure that the warehouse operates in the most efficient way possible. This can be achieved by carefully planning the layout of the floor, and developing and implementing new procedures to streamline warehouse operations.
Finally, it is the responsibility of the warehouse operations manager to ensure that all equipment is functioning properly. You would need to follow a budget, and keep your warehouse stocked with all the functioning machines necessary to keep your facility running smoothly.
Most warehouse operations manager positions require that you have at least an associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s in logistics, inventory management, or another related field. You will also need some experience working in a warehouse, or in some other sector of the supply chain, to give you the background knowledge necessary for making the best choices.
Materials planners typically work in the manufacturing or distribution sectors of the supply chain management system. If you were a materials planner, you would be expected to manage and record all the materials required for your business to operate. For manufacturing jobs, you would need to ensure that your business has enough raw materials to produce whatever it is they produce. If you work in distribution, you will need to ensure that you have enough of your customers’ stock to fulfill their orders.
The primary goal of the materials planner is to ensure that the company always has the materials it needs to run smoothly. In order to do this, a precise inventory record must be kept at all times, so anything can be restocked before it runs out. Usually, this entails working closely with an inventory specialist, to ensure that everything is accurately accounted for.
Although some employers are willing to train incoming materials planners with just a high school education, they generally won’t hire someone that doesn’t have several years of inventory management or distribution experience. However, this particular career has a lot more variation with what employers are looking for, so some companies may have wildly different expectations from each other.
As a fleet manager, it would be your job to manage the vehicles used to transport the freight for a logistics or transportation company. You would have to keep track of how many vehicles the company owns or leases, where they are, and who is driving them. You would also be required to conduct regular inspections of vehicles, schedule regular maintenance for those vehicles, and to repair or dispose of vehicles that are no longer useable.
Being a fleet manager does not mean your only job is to look after the vehicles, however. It also means that you will be responsible for recruiting and managing a team of drivers to operate those vehicles. You would hire them, offer them training, and when necessary, take disciplinary action against drivers that are not performing adequately.
Getting a job as a fleet manager requires at least an associate’s degree, as well as several years of exemplary performance within the transportation or logistics industries. Experience is the most important factor when employers consider people for this position, but a bachelor’s degree could help you stand out among the other applicants.
As a process engineer, you would be involved in the manufacturing side of the supply chain. It would be your job to ensure that the machines running continuously in the factories are operating effectively and safely. It may also fall under your responsibilities to design and implement new processes or machines, stock new factories with the right machines, and facilitate the replacement or repair of damaged machines in established factories.
A process engineer’s job is very important for keeping workers safe. Because most continuous manufacturing involves chemical processes, like chemical reactions or extremely high temperatures, many of the machines are dangerous if they are not functioning properly. It would be your job to ensure that everything is working the way it should and that all the machines are kept maintained and monitored.
In order to qualify for this role, you should have a bachelor’s of science in engineering, chemistry, or another related field. Previous experience with management or engineering could also further qualify you for the position, and prove your credibility to your potential employer.
Distribution managers are in charge of monitoring the distribution of goods, including storage and delivery. They are sometimes referred to as transportation managers, or transportation and storage managers. As a distribution manager, you would have to keep track of changes in legislation, the cost of fuel, weather conditions, and other factors that could influence the movement of freight.
Although your exact roles would vary depending on the company you work for, you may end up managing costs, stock, warehouses, delivery, returns, or other employees. Depending on the size of the company you work for, you may have a lot of the same duties as a warehouse manager or fleet manager, or you may have a more specialized role, and work alongside others in those positions.
Because a great deal of responsibility falls on distribution managers, job training is extensive, and a significant amount of prior transportation and logistics experience is necessary to succeed in this position. Most employers will also require a bachelor’s degree in business, but if you have demonstrated excellence in previous positions in the company for many years, you may need only a high school diploma.
If one or more of these careers in logistics and supply chain management sound right for you, the next step on the road to getting that job is applying. But how can you make your resume stand out above the other applicants?
Although it’s not required, getting an industry certification in your area of interest can lend you some serious credibility. These certifications are only awarded to people who can complete the exams at the end, so if you’re certified, that’s proof that you’re qualified to your employer.
In addition to improving your chance of being hired, getting a certification could potentially increase your paycheck! Many employers will pay more to those with certifications, in comparison to otherwise equally qualified applicants.
You’re probably feeling pretty good about getting certified now, but hold on. There are so many different kinds of certifications out there, it can be overwhelming to figure out which one is the best for you. Take a look at some of the most common ones, and try to find one that will be the most helpful in your chosen career in logistics or supply chain management.
The CSCP certification from The Association for Supply Chain Management (APICS) demonstrates mastery in three different categories: design, planning and execution, and improvements and best practices. Pursuing this kind of certification is ideal if you want an improved understanding of the supply chain, better organizational skills, and knowledge of streamlining operations.
Once this certification has been awarded, it must be maintained every five years in order to stay authentic. If you fail to maintain it, you will lose your certification and must take the test again in order to get it back. The test costs $965 to complete for non-members, or $695 if you’re already an APICS Plus member. If you need to retake the test for any reason, that’ll be another $450.
The CPIM certification, also from APICS, is a little bit more specialized. Getting this certification proves your professional knowledge of production and inventory management. This test is broken up into two parts, with the first part being a general knowledge test, while the second part covers the more specific topics.
Like the CSCP certification, this certification also must be maintained every five years in order to stay valid. Test one and test two must be purchased separately, and each part is $690 for non-members, but membership can bring that price down to $495. The price to retake either test is $250.
If you’re a strongly driven individual with a desire to work in a high-level management position within the supply chain, the CPSM certification might be the choice for you. This certification, awarded by the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), covers a broad spectrum of topics. In order to pass the exam at the end, you will need to have studied the legal, financial, analytical, and strategic elements of supply chain management.
In order to get this certification, you must already have some supply chain management experience. You will need five years of experience, or three years and a bachelor’s degree, in order to qualify for this certification.
The exam is divided into three parts, with each part being $379 for non-members and $229 for members. After you pass your exams, you need to submit an additional fee, of $179 for non-members or $119 for members, with your application in order to receive your certification. If you fail, you must wait at least 30 days before you will be allowed to take the test again, at full price.
The CPSD certification, also by the ISM, is a unique type of program that is starting to get much more recognition from employers. With this certification, you will be able to help your company benefit from supplier diversity, and promote equal opportunity ideals within the industry. On average, companies that have a diverse supplier base are more profitable than companies that don’t, so CPSD certified individuals are starting to see a spike in demand for their services.
Eligibility requirements are the same for this certification as they are with the CSCP, so either five years of experience in a supply chain management or supplier diversity position, or three years of experience and a bachelor’s degree. This certification has two exams, each costing $379 for non-members and $229 for members. However, if you have already received a CPSM certification, you can have the first CPSD exam waived. Like the CPSM test, the price for retakes is not discounted and must be completed a minimum of 30 days after the failed exam.
The CPL certification, awarded by The International Society of Logistics (SOLE), is designed to rigorously test the applicant’s logistics knowledge. The certification is so rigorous, in fact, that many employers consider its successful completion to be equivalent to a master’s degree in logistics.
The examination for the CPL certification operates much differently than the other examinations for the other certifications. The requirements for taking the test are some of the most rigid of any of the certifications out there. You must have one of the following in order to be permitted to take the exam:
There are four sections to the exam, and all four sections must be taken together in one continuous eight-hour session, which is only offered by society twice a year. If only three sections are passed, you will be permitted to retake the only failed test by itself. However, if more than one of the four tests is failed, all four parts must be retaken. The price of the exam is $375 for non-members, and $225 for members of the society, but the price to retake either one or all four sections is $50, for both members and non-members.
If you still aren’t sure which career in Logistics and Supply Chain Management you want to be part of, or if you’re not ready for a full-time job yet, getting an internship can provide you with lots of inside knowledge and hands-on experience. Often times, interns are exposed to all manner of different jobs, so you can see first-hand the different roles that people can play within a logistics or supply chain company.
Find what interests you, and play to your strengths. Getting a job that you enjoy is the best way to encourage yourself to give it your all every single day. Before you know it, you may find yourself at the very top.