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Pursuing a Career in Logistics Management: Education, Salary, and Career Outlook

October 7, 2023
Logistics manager in a wharehouse using a tablet

Organizations rely on supply chains to create and distribute products to consumers. A swift supply chain can be a distinct advantage over a competitor, particularly when customers prioritize fast, error-free shipments. Companies also optimize their supply chains in efforts to improve their product creation process and reduce waste.

Supply chains dictate how products are planned for, sourced, created, delivered, and returned — but they need oversight. That oversight is called supply chain management, and it’s the main responsibility of a logistics manager. They monitor all movement of products, data, and finances from companies to customers.

What Do Logistics Managers Do?

 Logistics managers fill an incredibly important role in business operations. They streamline the delivery process for any business asset from one place to the next. The results can reduce operating costs, increase revenue, and improve productivity across an entire company, no matter the size or industry.

Here are a few specific responsibilities a logistics manager might handle:

  • Creating and managing budgets: This includes overseeing budget details for a company’s transportation and warehouse needs.
  • Negotiating with suppliers: Logistics managers need to achieve favorable terms with suppliers for pricing, delivery, and quality of service.
  • Maintaining supply chain and inventory records: Another responsibility is keeping up-to-date records on supply chain activities and inventory levels, often through assistive technology.
  • Managing inbound and outbound shipments: This requires organizing a company’s movement of goods by coordinating incoming and outgoing shipments on a daily basis.
  • Coordinating transportation demands: This is essential to meet customer demands and deliver goods within agreed-upon date ranges.

While they can sometimes handle similar responsibilities, logistics managers and procurement specialists have distinct roles. A procurement specialist is primarily concerned with purchasing the products or services for delivery. By contrast, a logistics manager handles the transportation and storage of these goods.

What Sectors and Types of Companies Hire Logistics Managers?

Logistics managers’ skills in budget management, inventory record-keeping, and shipment organization make them valuable contributors to the workforce.

Here are a few of the sectors that employ logistics managers: 

  • Retail: This includes the distribution of retail goods, from merchandise and electronics to home goods, groceries, and automotive products.
  • Manufacturing: This could involve coordinating deliveries of raw materials into manufacturing plants and the outflow of finished goods for delivery to customers.
  • E-commerce: This includes management of fulfillment centers, last-mile delivery, and supply chain processes in between to meet changing consumer expectations.
  • Food services: Duties could include the transportation, storage, and delivery of perishable goods with strict drop-off windows and transit temperature standards.

A logistics manager might work in a variety of environments, depending on their industry and the size of their team. For example, they may spend time in a distribution center overseeing the receipt, storage, and release of a company’s goods. They might also handle inventory onsite in a warehouse or oversee the exit of finished products from a manufacturing plant.

How Much Do Logistics Managers Make?

Most logistics managers earn a competitive salary. However, the exact compensation package varies based on factors like experience, education, work location, employer, and active certifications. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for a logistics manager — a type of transportation, storage, and distribution manager — is between $73,700 and $126,560. Those employed in the computer manufacturing industry earn the highest average salary at $178,780. By contrast, those working in freight or rail transportation earn approximately $96,540 and $102,520 respectively.

How Does Someone Become a Logistics Manager?

Becoming a logistics manager requires obtaining the necessary skills and experience through education, hands-on experience, and potential certification programs.

What Type of Education Should Logistics Managers Have?

Most logistics managers have at least an undergraduate degree in a relevant field. For many, that means completing a bachelor’s degree in business management, logistics, or supply chain management.

To deepen their skills and further improve their candidacy for hire, many aspiring logistics managers also complete a master’s degree in global business or a similar field. This program separates you from other industry hopefuls and teaches leadership-level skills in business foundations, international law, and analytics.

Depending on your industry and employer, you may also need to obtain a certification to qualify for hire. Logistics management certification programs teach actionable skills that further qualify you to optimize an organization’s supply chain process.

What Skills Do Logistics Managers Need?

Logistics managers rely on a combination of hard and soft skills to minimize risk and promote productivity across an organization’s entire supply chain.

Here are a few skills a logistics manager relies on each day:

  • Communication: This involves conveying instructions clearly to team members, negotiating with suppliers, and coordinating product and service delivery with other departments or external customers.
  • Problem-solving: This skill is useful in overcoming challenges in product delivery windows, supply chain delays, inventory shortages, and unexpected disruptions once shipments are en route.
  • Customer service: This is essential when delivering products promptly, resolving customer issues, and communicating with important consumers to remedy any issues with product quality.
  • Inventory management: This skill can be useful when navigating excess inventory, minimizing stockouts, and maximizing turnover by optimizing inventory levels for expected purchase levels. 
  • Supply chain management: This involves overseeing each stage of supply chain fulfillment, from sourcing and procurement through production, distribution, and delivery.
  • Time management: This is essential for prioritizing tasks to meet deadlines, minimizing disruptions, and efficiently allocating resources across teams and departments that handle individual stages of a company’s supply chain.

These and other skills allow logistics managers to navigate the many challenges a supply chain can present.

What Types of Prior Work Experience Should Logistics Managers Have?

Even if you don’t have direct experience managing a supply chain or optimizing product delivery, your work history can still add value to your resume.

If you’ve maintained a consulting career in business, transportation, or procurement, your skills will likely translate well to logistics. Your expertise in guiding clients through different business challenges will be valuable in guiding your own future employer through similar logistics issues.

Given the importance of budget management for a logistics manager, prior experience in a finance career is also valuable. Experience in accounting, financial analysis, investment, and tax law is particularly valuable for when navigating a variety of financial challenges when deciding how to allocate resources.

Certifications for Logistics Managers

Logistics management certifications foster impactful skills that help you improve your career. These programs typically last a few weeks to a few months and provide training in specific areas of logistics and supply chain management.

Many aspiring logistics managers consider a Certification in Logistics, Transportation, and Distribution (CLTD). This program, fulfilled through the American Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), covers critical topics like order management, logistics network design, and global transportation.
Other ASCM programs can further strengthen your resume, including their Certification in Planning and Inventory Management (CPIM). The ASCM can also accredit you as a Certified Supply Chain Management Professional (CSCP), with additional education in forward and reverse logistics, supply chain risk, and demand management.