Career Spotlight: Logistics

 Truck on the highway with text saying ‘Career Spotlight.’

What is logistics and why is it an exciting career choice for today’s generation?

Logisticians help businesses get their products from the point of origin to the consumer as quickly, efficiently, and affordably as possible. A logistics expert asks questions like: how much inventory does the company need to ship; when does that inventory need to arrive; and what is the best way to ship our product both quickly and inexpensively.

Rodrigo Mesa-Arango, Florida Institute of Technology.

Click a button to watch an interview with Rodrigo Mesa-Arango:

Jennifer Pazour, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Click a button to watch an interview with Jennifer Pazour:

Imagine you own a company that makes candy bars. You need to deliver a total of one million bars to different candy stores across the nation. Your logistics expert would figure out the best way to ship those one million bars on time and at the lowest expense to the company. By finding the fastest and cheapest route, the company saves money that it can use to hire more workers, make more bars, and ultimately run a more successful business.

But logistics is a lot more complicated than simply filling some trucks, telling them where to go, and sending them on their way. There are always trade-offs to consider when finding the most efficient way to deliver a product. For example, is it better to pay more to ship products quickly by air or to save money and deliver the product a little slower by truck? Similarly, is it better to haul heavier loads of cargo and burn more fuel, or to make more trips and save on fuel?

The answers to logistics questions aren’t always easy to determine, especially as a business grows larger. For example, UPS has to figure out the most efficient routes to deliver millions of packages each day, all over the country. That’s why logistics experts have to rely on math, problem-solving skills, and technology like computer software to help them find the best solutions to complex problems.

Rodrigo Mesa-Arango, a professor and logistics expert, explained to Fast Forward that technology and data are helping today’s logisticians make business more efficient than ever before. Route mapping software, for example, can help some of the largest companies make decisions which seem tiny at first, but add up when you consider the big picture. For UPS, this meant eliminating left turns whenever possible, since they tend to result in longer wait times, higher fuel costs, and overall reduced efficiency. Believe it or not, just by eliminating left turns in 2004, UPS was able to save around $10 million over the next eight years.

The savings created by logisticians even translate to lower costs for the consumer; if a company can pay less for shipping, it can charge less for its product. This is just another reason logistics experts are highly sought-after business professionals; they are simply good for business.

To prepare for a career in logistics, students should work on their problem-solving skills. They can do this by taking math, science, engineering, and business classes. They should also work on their computer and technology skills. Learning these skills will prepare them to use the tools of the trade employed by today’s logisticians.

One thing is certain: careers in logistics offer plenty of excitement and an endless array of companies to choose from. It’s an exciting career path where no day is the same as you’re constantly faced with new challenges. This makes logistics appealing to people who don’t like monotony. Logistics is also a high-paying career. Logisticians’ average annual salary is $74,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So if you’re the type of person who enjoys problem solving and appreciates a challenging work environment, you’ll find something to love in logistics.

Aaron Mack
Fast Forward: Volume 3 Issue 3 – Trucking & Logistics