An associate’s degree in logistics prepares graduates for entry-level careers in warehousing and transportation, which are two key areas involved in the logistics industry. However, a graduate of a bachelor’s or master’s degree program in the field is qualified to pursue administrative positions in supply chain management. A doctoral degree primarily prepares graduates for careers in logistics research and teaching.
An associate’s degree in logistics gives students an overview of logistics and includes some business topics. General education courses are required as well as core logistics and business classes. Some of the topics covered in an associate’s degree program in logistics include logistics technology, commerce and e-business, business law, inventory management and international logistics. Courses also introduce students to computer operation and common software programs used in logistics operations.
A bachelor’s degree program in logistics prepares graduates for supply chain management roles. Some bachelor’s degree programs allow students to specialize. Specialized areas of study may include sales and operations or management and data analysis. However, before a student can choose a concentration area, he or she must first complete core logistics courses in areas such as consumer and industrial sales, distribution channels, logistics technology, procurement and materials handling.
A master’s degree program in logistics may include a thesis option, which is recommended for students who are planning on continuing their studies at the doctoral degree level.
The goal of a master’s degree program in logistics is to equip students with the skills and knowledge necessary to manage a company’s supply chain operations. Critical thinking and problem solving ability are key to succeeding as a logistics manager, and these skills are sharpened and tested while taking courses in business logistics, operations research, information systems for logistics and design of logistics distribution systems.
Students enrolled in a doctoral degree program in logistics spend a majority of their time conducting research and working towards completing their dissertations. The first two years of enrollment focus on foundation logistics courses. Topics covered include econometrics, microeconomics, statistics, methods of research and principles of optimization.
Students also take electives in areas such as business ethics, data mining, supply chain modeling and e-commerce. Many logistics doctoral degree programs also require that students teach while enrolled. However, teaching requirements vary and are secondary to the research and writing of a dissertation. Graduates who hold Ph.D.s in Logistics sometimes enter the private sector but generally conduct research and have teaching positions with universities.
One can pursue many different occupations within the field of logistics. Graduates of bachelor’s and advanced degree programs are best suited for managerial and sales positions, while students who have completed an associate’s degree in the field may work in shipping, receiving and warehouse operations. Employment change in the logistics industry is heavily influenced by the state of the U.S. economy. Logisticians also have the option of becoming certified by the American Society of Transportation and Logistics or the International Society of Logistics.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that overall employment of in the logistics industry will grow 2% for the 2014 to 2024 period. According to BLS, logisticians earned an average of $74,260 in 2015.
While a few positions may be open for logisticians with only an associate’s degree, most will require at least a bachelor’s degree. Higher education and experience may open up more options and higher salaries.