Skills Spotlight: Logistics and 12 Related Jobs

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By Susan Ricker

People, goods and raw materials rarely stay in one place for long. To coordinate those transportation needs, we turn to the industry of logistics, materials and supply chain management to keep a global economy and the people within it moving.

According to an Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. 2014.2 Class of Worker dataset, the logistics, materials and supply chain management industry is responsible for a lot: managing and coordinating all logistical functions in an enterprise -- ranging from acquisitions to receiving and handling, through internal allocation of resources to operations units, to the handling and delivery of output. It also includes instruction in acquisitions and purchasing, inventory control, storage and handling, just-in-time manufacturing, logistics planning, shipping and delivery management, transportation, quality control, resource estimation and allocation and budgeting.

Suffice to say, those who work in logistics have a very strong set of skills, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics elaborates on:

Important qualities for logistics
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Time-management skills
  • Customer-service skills
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Math skills
  • Patience
  • Sales skills
  • Speaking ability
  • Visual ability
  • Communication skills
  • Concentration skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Critical-thinking skills
  • Alertness
  • Dexterity
  • Mechanical skills
  • Visual ability

And to apply those skills, consider any of these 12 related positions within the industry:

1. Industrial production managers* oversee the daily operations of manufacturing and related plants. They coordinate, plan and direct the activities used to create a wide range of goods, such as cars, computer equipment or paper products.

2. Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of air traffic, to ensure that aircraft stay safe distances apart. Among their responsibilities, air traffic controllers typically issue landing and takeoff instructions to pilots and monitor and direct the movement of aircraft on the ground and in the air, using radar, computers or visual references.

3. Delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers pick up, transport and drop off packages and small shipments within a local region or urban area. They drive trucks with a gross vehicle weight -- the combined weight of the vehicle, passengers and cargo -- of 26,000 pounds or less. Most of the time, delivery truck drivers transport merchandise from a distribution center to businesses and households.

4. Logisticians analyze and coordinate an organization's supply chain -- the system that moves a product from supplier to consumer. They manage the entire life cycle of a product, which includes how a product is acquired, distributed, allocated and delivered.

5. Material moving machine operators use machinery to transport various objects. Some operators move construction materials around building sites or the land around a mine. Others move goods around a warehouse or onto container ships.

6. Industrial truck and tractor operators drive trucks and tractors that move materials around warehouses, storage yards or worksites. These trucks, often called forklifts, have a lifting mechanism and forks, which makes them useful for moving heavy and large objects. Some industrial truck and tractor operators drive tractors that pull trailers loaded with material around factories or storage areas.

7. Excavating and loading machine and dragline operators use machines equipped with scoops or shovels. They dig sand, earth or other materials and load them onto conveyors or into trucks for transport elsewhere. They also may move material within a confined area, such as a construction site. Operators typically receive instructions from workers on the ground through hand signals or radios. Most of these operators work in construction or mining industries.

8. Dredge operators excavate waterways. They operate equipment on the water to remove sand, gravel or rock from harbors or lakes to help prevent erosion and improve trade. Removing these materials helps maintain navigable waterways and allows larger ships to use more ports. Operators also measure the water depth, as well as how much they will be excavating. Dredging is also used to help restore wetlands and maintain beaches.

9. Crane and tower operators use tower and cable equipment to lift and move materials, machinery or other heavy objects. Operators extend and retract horizontal arms and lower and raise hooks attached to cables at the end of their crane or tower. Operators are usually guided by other workers on the ground using hand signals or a radio. Most crane and tower operators work at construction sites or major ports, where they load and unload cargo. Some also work in iron and steel mills.

10. Hoist and winch operators, also called derrick operators or hydraulic boom operators, control the movement of platforms, cables and cages that transport workers or materials for industrial operations, such as constructing a high-rise building. Many of these operators raise platforms far above the ground. Operators regulate the speed of the equipment based on the needs of the workers. Most work in manufacturing or construction industries.

11. Conveyor operators and tenders control conveyor systems that move materials on an automatic belt. They move materials to and from places such as building sites, storage areas and vehicles. They monitor sensors on the conveyor to regulate the speed with which the conveyor belt moves. Operators may determine the route materials take along a conveyor based on shipping orders.

12. Locomotive engineers drive freight or passenger trains between stations. They drive long-distance trains and commuter trains, but not subway trains. Most locomotive engineers drive diesel-electric engines, although some drive locomotives powered by battery or electricity.

*Job titles and descriptions are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.
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