Community College Maritime Programs
What they do: Being a Logistician is a hard job to explain, partly because it encompasses behind-the-scenes work that most people take for granted. How does one get all of the raw parts a factory in Michigan needs from a supplier in China? How does the military move thousands of people and supplies from one part of the world to another? How do mega-online retailers ship products so quickly? Logisticians are charged with answering those questions, and doing it so smoothly that few people realize just how difficult it is. Logisticians oversee shipping and transportation, distribution to wholesalers or retailers, warehousing, and the just-in-time delivery that helps minimize costs and maximize productivity. Many of these jobs are in manufacturing or retail businesses, but Logisticians are needed in virtually every field, including energy, communications, finance, information technology, and government. At top firms, the job involves way more than just making the trains run on time: One key advantage that has made Wal-Mart the world's biggest retailer, for instance, is a superb logistical system that continually shaves costs and helps the company offer its famously low prices.
Skills needed: Logisticians should stay current on evolving technology like RFID tracking systems or new inventory-control software. Many Logisticians also have a military background, since moving material under adverse conditions—a military specialty—is excellent training for the challenges of commerce.