Often, transportation, logistics, and distribution careers go hand-in-hand. There are few different subsectors to consider:
Logistics Services: These are the people that make sure freight (and regular people) get where they need to, when they need to. In other words, there’s inbound and outbound transportation management, fleet management, third-party logistics management, inventory management, and more. As SelectUSA explains, “logistics services are involved at all levels in the planning and execution of the movement of goods.”
Trucking: These guys are part of the crews that logistics professionals manage. The American Trucking Association reports that in 2012, trucks moved 9.4 billion tons of freight and collected $642 billion in revenue, 81% of all revenue earned by domestic transport. While there’s also freight rail (which moves a lot of coal and raw metal ores) and maritime (primarily for U.S. exports), trucking is one of the major ways goods are transported across the country.
Air and Express Delivery: This sector is used less often for product or heavy cargo, but more often for time-sensitive documents, parcels, and high-value items. The government notes that “EDS firms also provide the export infrastructure for many exporters, particularly small and medium-sized businesses that cannot afford to operate their own supply chain.”
As you can see, these transportation, distribution, and logistics professionals are absolutely vital to manufacturing and the economy at large. Logistics workers generally find jobs in two different areas. Big transportation companies often will have their own logistics departments, but there are also companies who work with small businesses that don’t own the ships or trucks or planes, and arrange the details as a sort of contractor. Right now, there are 10 million people in the United States working in the transportation and logistic industries, but make no mistake: They need more.
There are a few different ways to think about careers in logistics. If you love having direct contact with cargo, logistics operations might be a good fit for you, and unloading boats and trains give good opportunities to be outside and engage in physical labor. There are also technology jobs, in which workers can track shipments by satellite and work to advance the tech present in the transportation and shipment process.
In logistics, a hiring gap exists just like it does in manufacturing itself. The Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics found that 270,200 jobs will be created each year in the U.S. between 2012 and 2018: “We’ve identified a pretty staggering gap,” said Page Siplon, the logistics center’s executive director, which means a shortage of at least 195,000 qualified logistics employees.
Hence, community colleges are working harder than ever before on preparing the workforce for logistics careers. Union County College in New Jersey recently announced a new talent development center specifically for the sector, and other colleges throughout the country are beginning to do the same.
If you’re interested in a career in logistics, now’s the time to think about entering the field. There’s certainly opportunity to do so! To learn more about these positions here in Nebraska, check out Nebraska Career Connections for more information.