Although experience, personality, and other factors are essential to examine in the hiring process for logistics jobs, one significant factor that hiring managers are examining is the level of education of an applicant. Although there are individuals in the logistics industry who have varying degrees – ranging from high school diplomas all the way to PhDs – companies are increasingly beginning to look for candidates with advanced college degrees.
Having a high school diploma or an associate’s degree may be sufficient for older and more experienced individuals in the industry; however, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor’s degree is typically required for the majority of individuals looking to enter the logistics industry today.
Similarly, more logistics employees are choosing to go back to school to get their MBAs to help them achieve a higher salary, position or status in the industry.
“Yesterday, if you had a college degree you had a leg up on the competition,” said Dr. Bruce Arntzen, executive director of the supply chain management program at MIT. “Today you need to have a master’s degree.”
How It Pays to Have a Degree
Not only is it becoming custom for employees in logistics jobs to have a bachelor’s degree and/or advanced college degrees, but these logistics degrees mean higher salaries and significantly pay off in terms of compensation.
According to Logistics Management’s 28th Annual Salary Survey, spending extra time on getting a secondary degree tends to yield an increased salary the higher up the education chain you go. In terms of highest degree attained, a high school graduate working in the logistics industry has an average salary of $81,200. Once achieving a 4-year college degree, the average logistics workers’ salary jumps to $111,515. And finally from there, if a logistics worker holds an MBA or another graduate degree, their average salary can range from $122,020 to $134,575.
These numbers show that, on average, a logistics worker with an advanced degree tends to make more than $20,000 to $40,000 per year compared to other, lower levels of education. Despite the fact that advanced college degrees can be pricy and take up sufficient time, in the long-run, having the title of an MBA can pay off.
However, this isn’t to say that logistics works must have a college degree to get and maintain a job in the industry and bring in a good salary. The average salary for a logistics employee with just a high school degree is $81,200, almost double the average U.S. salary of $44,321, according to the U.S. Department of Social Security. This demonstrates that although college degrees are becoming more common in the logistics industry, less educated logistics employees still have a pay advantage over the average American.
Although education level is one of the more important factors in logistics salaries and hiring practices, this isn’t to say that younger and more educated individuals don’t have to work hard. Yes, having an advanced education is a large advantage in this field, but logistics employees must also have the work ethic to achieve the salary that they desire and to work their way up the corporate ladder.
Experience vs. Advanced Degrees
Individuals who lack an advanced degree aren’t always at a disadvantage when compared to other individuals in the logistics industry who have these degrees. This lack of formal education can be combatted by individuals making their immense industry experience their main selling point as to why they should be paid more. These professionals can demonstrate and explain why their experience is something that cannot be taught in a classroom setting and why they should be compensated accordingly. In fact, those individuals who have spent their entire careers in the industry (the 55-65-year-old range) continue to earn six-figure salaries, representing the industry’s top earners. This only demonstrates that experience can continue to be a strong selling point in the future. Although education is a strong indicator of long-term compensation, industry experience continues to be on a similar level of importance
Why Older Managers Should Stay Fresh
As younger, more technologically savvy and fresh-out-of-college logistics workers start to enter the workforce, it is becoming more vital for more seasoned yet older logistics managers to stay up to date with logistics industry trends and certifications.
If going back to school to get an advanced degree isn’t manageable or realistic for current employees in the field, then keeping up with industry certifications can be helpful for job seekers, the BLS reports.
“Logistics managers should pursue online coursework, executive education, professional certification—all geared toward shoring up gaps in current skill sets and adding new skill sets that are required for their next promotion or for the realities of the world in 3 to 5 years,” said Dr. Theodore Stank, professor of logistics at the University of Tennessee.
This extra effort to stay conversant with industry trends, certifications and practices can aid experienced individuals with still being current and valued in their logistics companies.