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Logistics manager career path

Michael Feder

Written by Michael Feder

Kathryn Uhles

Reviewed by Kathryn Uhles, MIS, MSP, Dean, College of Business and IT

Logistics manager looking over inventory in a warehouse

At a glance

  • Logistics managers organize the movement of goods and materials for their organization and oversee all aspects of inventory management.
  • A bachelor’s degree in supply chain management or business is typically required to obtain positions as a logistics manager.
  • Prepare for opportunities in the field of logistics through a Bachelor of Science in Business with an Operations Management Certificate!

The U.S. sees a massive amount of shipping activity every day. In any given 24-hour period, ships, trucks, trains and planes move an average of 55.2 million tons of freight valued at $54 billion.

Retail, manufacturing, construction and service industries rely on this movement of goods for materials to use and products to sell. Without a supply chain, the entire U.S. economy would grind to a halt.

Logistics managers play an integral part in organizing the movement of these goods and materials for their company or organization. However, they serve as much more than just coordinators in moving goods from source to factory to warehouse to consumer. They handle all the details of inventory management necessary to ensure a consistent flow, and they coordinate with purchasing managers to bring on new suppliers when supply chain problems arise.

In addition to the fundamentals of transportation management, storage and distribution, a logistics manager must take into account the volume of materials or products the company needs. In this position, you also have to consider the life cycle of these items, the nuances of transportation networks, the potential bottlenecks in supply chains and the effects of economics, commodity prices and geopolitics.

Companies, organizations and agencies can only perform essential customer service with the right equipment, supplies, materials or products, so logistics managers have an extremely important role. This can be a meaningful career path for professionals with relevant educational qualifications, skills and work experience.

Experts with specialized business degrees in supply chain management or logistics can find positions in a variety of industries. This position requires understanding supply chain principles, trade rules, import and export tariffs, and transportation laws. Logistics managers need math skills to calculate pricing for shipping, and they require excellent communication and management abilities to ensure different parts of the supply chain work together seamlessly.

Here is a closer look at the details of a logistics management career.

Logistics manager salary

As of May 2023, transportation, storage and distribution managers (including logistic managers) earned between $58,810 and $175,530, with a median of $99,200, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Experience and degree level can affect earning potential, as can location and specialization. Those specializing in air transport, deep sea cargo or coastal logistics, for example, often command a higher salary. Meanwhile, the highest employment rates for professionals in this specialty are in warehouses and distribution centers.

Salary ranges are not specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website.

How to become a logistics manager

Here are steps to enter the field of logistics management.

Earn a degree

Though there are different ways to enter the field of logistics, most employers will expect a college degree. A general program, such as a Bachelor of Science in Business (BSB) with a Certificate in Operations Management, can help prepare you for a logistics position. BSB programs often include technical instruction in supply chain management software and other tools of the trade, such as RFID tags.

You can also look to more specialized programs, such as a bachelor’s in logistics or supply chain management. Some universities allow you to earn a professional certificate in one of these areas while enrolled in a BSB degree program.

Gain professional experience

If you hold a bachelor’s degree, you can often find work as a supply chain specialist or logistician before advancing to a management role. Alternative paths to this position could include working in an entry-level logistics job, such as a dispatcher or inventory clerk.

Finally, it is possible to get logistics training through the military or while working for another government agency. You could potentially work in one of these entry-level roles while enrolled in a degree program or undertaking an internship. Both options will provide valuable job experience that could benefit you when applying for logistics jobs after graduation.

Earn certifications

Certification is not a requirement for any logistics management position. However, some credentials could improve your job prospects.

  • The International Society of Logistics (SOLE) offers certifications to supply chain professionals. Accreditation involves meeting education and work experience requirements and passing a written exam.
  • Association of Supply Chain Management (ASCM) certification involves meeting a similar set of requirements. The most popular accreditation is Certified Logistics, Transport and Distribution (CLTD).
  • American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS) offers several certification options through ASCM for logistics professionals. Accreditations include Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) and Supply Chain Operations Reference Professional (SCOR-P).

Those who work for the government, including military branches and the Department of Defense, may consider seeking certification from the Defense Acquisition University. Some private sector employers may recognize these certifications, which may help in the job market after you leave the military.

Job search

Logistics professionals can start on their career path with a variety of entry-level supply chain management jobs. You can typically find work as an inventory or supply chain specialist, logistics analyst or government logistics planner to gain skills for a senior management role.

The most active sectors for finding logistics jobs are warehouses, distribution centers, trucking companies, retail and e-commerce businesses, and government agencies, according to BLS.

Internships and previous entry-level job experience can help distinguish you from recent graduates who have experienced logistics only in an academic setting.

Is becoming a logistics manager right for you?

A logistics manager career could be right for you if you have strong problem-solving skills, a talent for multitasking and the confidence to make important decisions quickly.

As you weigh career options, you should also consider the type of education you will need. If you do not have logistics experience from the military or a previous job, you may want to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Earn a business degree from University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix offers several online business degrees that prepare students with skills for a variety of career paths. Whether you’re looking to build fundamental knowledge or advance your skill set, there’s a degree program for you. Here are some of the business degree programs at University of Phoenix:

  • Associate of Arts with a concentration in Business Fundamentals From management to accounting, skills learned in this program are essential for anyone looking to advance in their business education. 
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Knowledge of the ins and outs of running a business can spell the difference between success and failure in a competitive business world. 
  • Bachelor of Science in Business with an Operations Management Certificate — In this degree and certificate program you learn how to bridge the gap between areas such as marketing, analytics and business law to application of critical business principles in an organizational setting.
  • Master of Business Administration Advance your business skills beyond the fundamentals, and prepare for higher leadership roles in an organization. This degree program can prepare graduates for careers as business managers, operations directors and more.
  • Master of Management Take your understanding of business organization and management to an advanced level. This degree program is perfect for those with experience in the workforce who are looking to take on greater leadership roles. 
  • Doctor of Business Administration Expand your understanding of organizations, work environments and industry. This program invites participants to delve into cutting-edge research in the field of business and develop skills for solving complex organizational problems.
Headshot of Michael Feder

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and its Writing Seminars program and winner of the Stephen A. Dixon Literary Prize, Michael Feder brings an eye for detail and a passion for research to every article he writes. His academic and professional background includes experience in marketing, content development, script writing and SEO. Today, he works as a multimedia specialist at University of Phoenix where he covers a variety of topics ranging from healthcare to IT.

Headshot of Kathryn Uhles

ABOUT THE REVIEWER

Currently Dean of the College of Business and Information Technology, Kathryn Uhles has served University of Phoenix in a variety of roles since 2006. Prior to joining University of Phoenix, Kathryn taught fifth grade to underprivileged youth in Phoenix.

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This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
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