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A logistician is someone who analyzes and coordinates 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. Logisticians work in nearly every industry.
Logisticians typically do the following:
Logisticians oversee activities including purchasing, shipping and transportation, inventory, warehousing, and delivery. They may direct the movement of a range of goods, people, or supplies, from common consumer goods to military supplies. Logisticians use sophisticated software systems to plan and track the movement of goods. They operate software programs specifically tailored to manage logistical functions, such as procurement, inventory management, and other supply chain planning and management systems.
The federal government employs the largest number of logisticians, many of whom are 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.
Some logisticians travel frequently to visit a company’s manufacturing plants or distribution centers. 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. 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.
Although an associate’s degree is sufficient for many logistician jobs, candidates increasingly need a bachelor’s degree to advance beyond entry-level positions. Logisticians can qualify for positions with an associate’s degree in business or engineering or by taking courses on logistics. However, as logistics becomes increasingly complex, more companies prefer to hire workers who have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Many logisticians also have a master’s degree in business, finance, industrial engineering, or supply chain management. Although it is not required, certification can demonstrate professional competence and a broad knowledge of logistics.
Logisticians typically need work experience in a field related to logistics or business. Because military operations require a large amount of logistical work, some logisticians gain work experience while serving in the military. Some firms allow applicants to substitute several years of work experience for a degree.