Logistics officers handle the distribution of a company’s merchandise. They work for retailers, manufacturers and many other industries, loading and unloading packages and sometimes even equipment. Most logistics officers are employed in warehouses, although some work on putting loads on docks, where they remove or place items on large trucks, delivery vans and even boats.
The logistics officer in a clearing and freight company is the “go-to person” who knows the pulse of the transportation industry, the rates, how to get or make the best deals, what route a shipment must take for both maximum profit and minimum worry, and whether the shipment should go by air, land, sea or rail, or some combination of two or more, becoming an intermodal shipment.
Logistics officers who work in the receiving department make sure all items received are in good condition and stored in their proper place. Meanwhile, those in the shipping department often handle the weighing and packaging of items. Both types of logistics offers normally must check and sign invoices, as well as ensure the general upkeep of the warehouse. Logistics officers spend a great deal of their workday on their feet, or operating machinery used to assist with the process of distribution.
Logistics officers often need strength and stamina to move and package merchandise. They need to be strong communicators, as they regularly interact with everyone from supervisors to co-workers to vendors to delivery drivers. Most need to own basic math and computer skills, often used to help track orders and deliveries. On top of those things, logistics officers are almost always expected to be organized with a strong work ethic and positive attitude.
Logistics officers almost always need to possess a high school diploma, or at least the equivalent. Other than that, most can learn on the job with a limited amount of training. That’s especially true of those who handle labor only (as opposed to paperwork and filing). However, most companies prefer candidates with a certificate or degree when considering advancement. Areas of study for logistics officers aiming to move up usually include business, economics, math and perhaps communications and management.
Companies will always need workers to help with the distribution of the merchandise they sell, and therefore, opportunities for logistics workers are likely to always be available. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the warehousing industry that employs logistics officers is expected to grow by 11 percent between 2008 and 2018. That is about as fast as the national average for all professions, the BLS reported.
Logistics officers hold a number of titles and responsibilities, and their pay is usually reflective of such. For instance, the BLS reported that those with job descriptions fitting of a logistics officer earned anywhere $10.89 to $13.30 per hour in May 2008. Meanwhile, Pay Scale reported that logistics managers made a median annual salary of more than $57,500 in May 2010.
The logistics officer makes sure the company gets the best deal from carriers and the most money from the individual shipper. This requires using the most appropriate carrier for the service requested, whether the carrier is a railroad, a trucking firm, a ship management agency or air freight. It also requires selecting the most advantageous route — it may be the shortest or it may be the cheapest — to stay within the constraints of the company budget while satisfying the customer’s needs.
Carrier Contract Negotiation
When a customer wants freight moved, the logistics officer not only plans the movement, but negotiates with potential carriers to obtain the best freight rate for his company, to maximize the company’s profit. Each carrier, whether rail, ship, trucking firm or air freight service, charges the most that it can for its services. The logistics officer is charged with the responsibility of staying informed as to those rates, keeping company management informed and using only the best and least expensive carriers.
Coordination Between Agents and Officials
If the movement of the freight doesn’t coincide with the flow of paperwork between the customs agent who prepares it for the shipper and reconciles it with the shipment received for the receiver, and the officials of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol who regulate the movement of the freight into the country, the freight’s journey to its destination will be interrupted. By providing timely information to both the customs agent and government officials, the logistics officer keeps the freight moving freely.
Paperwork and Other Obstacles
The logistics officer processes regulatory permits ranging from oversize load movements by truck and hazardous materials movements by any method of transport. The logistics officer also verifies the bills that the agent processes, so the company is paid in a timely manner and protected against difficulties with government officials, shippers and transportation companies, ensuring that government officials receive the correct paperwork in a timely manner and that every stakeholder in a movement is paid the right amount at the right time.