Pros and Cons of a Career as a Logistics Consultant
Logistics consultants analyze and coordinate an organization's production and distribution of products or services. To determine if being a logistician is a feasible career for you, read the following pros and cons.
|Pros of Becoming a Logistics Consultant|
|Above-average job growth for logisticians (22% projected from 2012-2022)*|
|Above-average income potential ($71,150 annually)*|
|Many professional certifications available*|
|Opportunities for military veterans to use their training and experience*|
|Cons of Becoming a Logistics Consultant|
|Stressful, fast-paced work*|
|High level of education may be required*|
|Travel required for many aspects of your work*|
|Requires the ability to engage in multiple projects simultaneously*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Essential Career Information
Job Duties and Description
Logistics consultants engage in supply chain management, overseeing an organization's production and distribution operations. They must maintain relationships with managers, employees and a business's clients or customers. As a consultant, you will be tasked with developing supply chain improvements - including reducing costs in production, warehousing and transportation. You will also need to meet customer needs by developing mutually beneficial distribution procedures.
Your work will often require travel to distribution sites, meeting with warehouse and transportation personnel as well as checking in with clients, including retailers, to ensure that goods and services are successfully reaching markets. As many organizations distribute products to a variety of clients, you will often need to maintain and manage the supply chain for multiple projects at once.
Career Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected 22% growth in employment for logisticians from 2012-2022. This is credited to the increasing complexity of global distribution and competition and the need to increase profitability (such as by reducing supply chain costs and improving the effectiveness of product delivery). Logisticians employed in consulting services earned a mean salary of about $71,150, which is slightly less than the average income for all logisticians ($76,830) based on 2014 data (www.bls.gov).
What Are the Requirements?
Although an associate's degree may be enough to begin gaining professional experience preparing you for logistics duties, many professionals in this field earn a bachelor's or master's degree. The Occupational Information Network reports that 56% of surveyed logistics analysts earned a bachelor's degree, while 20% earned a master's degree as of 2012 (onetonline.org). In addition to undergraduate degree programs in business, industrial engineering programs may also prepare you for many aspects of a logistics profession.
This role entails a high level of communication and critical thinking skills. Excellent problem solving and organizational ability are also important. Computer skills will most likely play a large role in your profession. In order to maintain and interpret data, you may use enterprise resource planning software as well as analytic and scientific software applications. It's also essential for you to have knowledge of shipping processes as well as government regulations and industry standards for shipping and distribution.
Real Job Listings
Logistics consulting firms seek individuals with proven experience in supply chain project development or management. Many employers also prefer candidates who have earned professional certifications. Here are some real job postings found throughout the country from May 2012:
- A North American contract logistics provider seeks a rail logistics coordinator in Louisiana to manage rail, trucking and international shipments. This person will also oversee shipper and carrier communication, and they will take on some ordering tasks. Two years' logistics experience required, preferably alongside a bachelor's degree.
- A Denver information technology firm seeks a supply chain consultant to optimize logistics network with multiple distribution centers. This candidate should have a master's degree.
- A logistics consulting firm in Illinois seeks a senior solutions engineer for data analysis and the development of process improvements, particularly in transportation and warehousing costs. This person should have a bachelor's degree in business, engineering, industrial engineering, logistics or supply chain management.
- A Minneapolis logistics consulting firm seeks a supply chain business analyst for warehousing and distribution. The base pay for this position is $70,000-$110,000 per year. Applicants should have a bachelor's degree plus seven years of experience in warehousing and delivery with proven track record of transformational projects.
How to Stand Out in Your Field
Advanced Degree Programs
Obtaining an advanced degree in logistics or supply chain management may provide you with a competitive advantage while searching for jobs, especially since it is sometimes mandatory - as indicated by job postings online in May 2012. You could pursue a Master of Arts in Global Logistics or Master of Transportation Policy, Operations and Logistics. Graduate course topics may include transportation economics and technology, financial analysis, systems dynamics and database integration. Graduate programs may also include internships, practicums or field experiences.
Many employers prefer candidates that possess specific or general logistics certifications. The American Society of Transportation and Logistics issues the Certification in Transportation and Logistics (CTL) credential. In order to obtain CTL certification, you need to successfully complete an examination covering elective topics such as logistics finance, supply chain management, lean logistics as well as mandatory topics including transportation economics, logistics management and international transport.
The International Society of Logistics issues the Certified Professional Logistician (CPL) for candidates that have successfully passed through developmental levels that include the Demonstrated Logistician and the Certified Master Logistician. Training and examination topics include systems design and management as well as production and customer support. Other specialized certifications include the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) Air Cargo Professional (ACP) credential.
Military Training and Certification
Military experience can often prepare you for many aspects of logistics and supply chain management. The BLS 2010 data reports that the federal government employed 28% of logisticians, including many individuals involved in consulting work for military contracts. The Army Logistics University (ALU) offers advanced degree programs and professional/military certifications for army personnel and civilian logistics professionals.
Alternative Careers in Production and Consulting
A wide variety of organizations utilize production management and consulting services to improve efficiency and productivity. Below are two examples of alternative careers that can put your organizational and problem-solving skills to use.
Industrial engineers perform production analysis for businesses. They conduct reviews, propose improvements and institute quality control procedures. Industrial engineers confer with management and customers to meet production and demand needs. These professionals solve production issues that involve technology, time management, human resources and employee safety.
In order to gain employment, you will most likely need a minimum of a bachelor's degree. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredits undergraduate and graduate programs in industrial engineering. Due to continuing decline in domestic manufacturing, employment growth for industrial engineers should be slower than average over the coming years, but skilled engineers should remain in demand, per the BLS. Based on 2011 data from the same source, industrial engineers earned a mean salary of about $80,000.
Management analysts are consultants who gather data and information to propose solutions for a business or organization. They conduct interviews and perform onsite observation. According to BLS 2010 data, 23% of management analysts are self-employed. These professionals may experience higher job stress than those who work for consulting firms, as their wages may be directly tied to meeting client's needs.
Management analysts typically earn a bachelor's degree or complete a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. To gain a competitive advantage, you may wish to obtain certification through the Institute of Management Consultants USA, Inc. The BLS projects 22% growth in employment for management analysts, spurred by the demand for sustainable and global initiatives in business operations. Additional advantages may also be present for professionals that specialize in certain areas of management and operations, such as inventory control or human resources management. Management analysts earned a mean salary of about $88,000, according to the BLS as of 2011.