Supply Chain Management

What Degree(s) Does a Logistics Manager Need?

What Degree(s) Does a Logistics Manager Need?
Supply chain degrees should improve your chances of landing a logistics job, speed your progress through the ranks, and improve your salary prospects. Image from Unsplash
Lucien Formichella profile
Lucien Formichella February 16, 2021

There are excellent logistics jobs for any education level, but you'll likely need at least a bachelor's degree to become a logistics manager. However, those who want to claim top positions in the supply chain should look at master's programs.

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The supply chain process touches every aspect of life. It makes it possible for a pair of shoes to begin as raw material in one country, undergo manufacturing in another, and be distributed worldwide from a third—all in a matter of weeks.

Valuates Reports projects that, by 2027, the global supply chain management’s market size will reach $37.41 billion. That represents a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 11 percent from 2020 to 2027.

Logistics operations is just one part of the supply chain—but it’s a big one. Logistics managers help run the sector, overseeing such functions as procurement and distribution. It’s a high-responsibility job that may require substantial work experience and education.

So, what degree(s) does a logistics manager need? A bachelor of science can qualify you for some logistics manager positions, but top jobs may require a master’s degree. Read on to learn more about:

  • What is logistics?
  • What does a logistics manager do?
  • How much do logistics managers make?
  • What degrees does a logistics manager need?
  • Is logistics management a good career?
  • How to become a logistics manager
  • Best master’s in supply chain management programs
  • Best online master’s in supply chain management programs

What is logistics?

Logistics is the process of moving goods from point A to point B. However, it’s far more complicated than that.


The definitions for logistics and supply chain management are nearly identical—some experts even conflate the two.

According to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), “logistics management is that part of supply chain management that plans, implements, and controls the efficient, effective forward and reverses flow and storage of goods, services and related information between the point of origin and the point of consumption.” For reference, the CSCMP states that supply chain management “integrates supply and demand management within and across companies.”

What does this mean? In short, logistics can be a massive part of the supply chain but doesn’t represent all of it.

Real-world examples

Amazon’s quick delivery speeds depend on efficient sorting methods and well-positioned distribution centers, making it a prime example of logistics in action, according to Built In. Logistics techniques the company utilizes include:

  • Analysis: a product needs to reach its definition efficiently—for example, a distribution center in Oregon will likely not ship to Florida if another center is closer.
  • Clear communication: moving even one product requires effective collaboration.
  • Organization: the company carefully organizes distribution centers to locate products efficiently and maintains records to ensure nothing gets lost.

Though the basic principles of logistics are universal, different industries prioritize certain tactics over others. Timing is an essential component of all logistics operations, but most important in food delivery: fresh produce needs to travel quickly or else it goes bad. Screws and copper wires can sit in the back of a factory for two weeks without going bad; lettuce, on the other hand, eventually turns into garbage.


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What does a logistics manager do?

Logistics managers optimize the supply chain by:

  • Creating budgets
  • Inspecting warehouses and equipment
  • Keeping records
  • Managing costs
  • Monitoring cargo
  • Optimizing routes
  • Overseeing inventory and distribution centers
  • Preparing invoices
  • Tracking performance

A logistics manager’s job duties often depend on the size of their employer. Small companies may hire one logistics manager; large organizations can have several, each focusing on a discrete section of the process. For instance, warehouse managers may spend time on the floor ensuring OSHA compliance or enforcing workplace laws. A high-level logistics manager at Amazon may complete their job from behind a desk.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the highest concentration of logistics professionals—not necessarily managers—is in the manufacturing sector (24 percent), followed by the government (18 percent), and professional, scientific, or technical services (16 percent).

How much do logistics managers make?

Because there’s so much variety among logistics management jobs, it can be tough to pin down an ‘average’ salary. According to PayScale, the average logistics manager earns over $66,000 per year. Logistics managers at FedEx earn an average salary of $70,500, while managers at Amazon earn around $62,500. Experience can also influence your earnings, according to PayScale. Those with between ten and 19 years in the workforce earned an average of $72,000 per year.

Logistics managers in the federal government earn more: an average of nearly $96,000 per year, though salaries were agency-dependent. Average (rounded) salaries include:

  • Federal Aviation Administration ($80,000)
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency ($91,000)
  • US Coast Guard ($103,000)
  • Veterans Health Administration ($97,000)

It’s worth noting that salaries are higher across all supply chain management functions than for logistics. According to The Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the median supply chain salary is around $82,000.

What degrees does a logistics manager need?

You do not technically need any degree to work in logistics. It is possible to work your way up from an entry-level job to a management position. That said, degrees should improve your chances of landing a job, speed your progress through the ranks, and improve your salary prospects.

The best way to study logistics is as part of a supply chain management degree; the fields are closely related, and degrees typically cover both subjects. You may also be able to specialize in logistics during the program.

Certifications are also helpful. These are common among all supply chain professionals, not just logistics managers. According to the 2020 ASCM salary report, “Those who reported at least one APICS [another acronym for ASCM] certification reported 21 percent higher median salary than those without a certification.”

Relevant APICS certifications include:

APICS isn’t the only certifying body. Other options include:

Associate’s degree: career options

An associate degree is a two-year degree designed for those who want to:

  • Advance past an entry-level position
  • Return to school
  • Save money completing course requirements before moving to a bachelor’s degree program

Colorado Christian University offers an associate’s in supply chain management and logistics that focuses on “purchasing and inbound logistics; transportation management; and operations.” Its curriculum includes five core courses:

  • Introduction to Logistics and Supply Chain Management
  • Introduction to Transportation Management
  • Management of Information Systems
  • Productions/Operations
  • Purchasing and Inbound Logistics

Beyond preparing graduates for bachelor’s programs, an associate’s from Colorado Christian can lead to jobs in:

  • Carrier/transportation services
  • Manufacturing
  • Purchasing or transportation management
  • Retailing
  • Warehouse operations

Bachelor’s degree: career options

There are several good bachelor’s degree options for aspiring logistics and supply chain professionals, including one from Embry – Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide. Students who complete the major learn to:

  • Communicate effectively
  • Create solutions to address transportation issues
  • Manage inventory
  • Measure performance
  • Optimize distribution
  • Procure goods
  • Use information technology for business
  • Utilize modeling in problem solving
  • Write research papers

Similar degrees include the Arizona State University – Tempe BA in Business and Southern New Hampshire University BS in Operations Management. Both programs allow students to concentrate in logistics. Core courses at Southern New Hampshire include:

  • Continuous Improvement Tools and Techniques
  • Management Science through Spreadsheets
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Sustainable Operations
  • Trends in Operations Management

According to the APICS, common jobs for recent graduates include:

  • Assistant planner
  • Associate buyer
  • Associate supply chain analyst
  • Buying coordinator
  • Purchasing assistant
  • Purchasing associate
  • Supply chain associate
  • Supply chain manager
  • Warehouse supervisor

Supply chain management isn’t the only useful degree for advancing your logistics career. Being multilingual can help secure a global logistics job. If that’s your career goal, double majoring in a foreign language may be helpful.

Master’s degree (including MBA): career options

Experience can lead to career advancement, but having a master’s degree is one of the best ways to qualify for top jobs. Most supply chain master’s degrees lead to positions more advanced than logistics manager.

The two main kinds of supply chain master’s are:

As in bachelor’s programs, you may be able to concentrate in a single area of supply chain management during a graduate degree. Boston University students can choose from:

  • Global business
  • Logistics management
  • Quantitative approaches

Supply chain graduate degrees are typically designed for professionals who already have relevant experience in the field. Massachusetts Institute of Technology says that students with three to seven years of experience typically get the most out of its master’s program, while Portland State University reports the average student has 74 months of experience.

Students at The University of Tennessee – Knoxville online MS in Supply Chain Management program complete courses like:

  • Supply Chain Strategy
  • Supply Chain Finance
  • Supply Chain Data Modeling and Analysis
  • Global Supply Chain Management
  • Supply Chain Operations

Completing an MS program can prepare you for careers like:

  • Distribution manager
  • General manager
  • Global commodities director
  • Global supply chain manager
  • Operations manager
  • Supply chain director
  • Vice president of supply chain management

MBA programs cover many of the same topics, but focus on business management more than logistical mechanics. In addition to supply chain courses, MBA students complete coursework in:

  • Accounting
  • Business
  • Finance
  • Economics
  • Leadership
  • Marketing

Graduates from supply chain MBA programs qualify for positions like:

  • Chief supply chain officer
  • Global commodities director
  • Global supply chain manager
  • Supply chain director
  • Vice president of supply chain management

Are there logistics managers with doctorates?

It’s possible to earn a doctoral degree in supply chain and logistics, though PhDs traditionally lead to academic positions. The University of Maryland – College Park PhD in Supply Chain Management “is designed to produce outstanding scholars in the fields of logistics, transportation, and supply chain management.” Graduates usually become professors.

Is logistics management a good career?

Logistics management is an excellent career if you can handle stress—like calls from international shipping agencies at 3 am. It’s a field where nobody knows your name unless something goes wrong. Still, supply chain professionals are compensated well and have excellent career mobility potential.

Most important, most people who work along the supply chain enjoy what they do. According to the ASCM, 88 percent of supply chain professionals feel positively about their careers. Many would also recommend others get into the field.

How to become a logistics manager

Becoming a logistics manager takes effort but is an attainable goal. Formal education is not a requirement for supply chain jobs, though logistics managers typically have at least a bachelor’s degree—usually in logistics and supply chain management. Still, becoming a logistics manager is more about skill than education. To demonstrate proficiency, many earn competency certifications.

Supply chains come in all shapes and sizes, meaning there is no set path to any job, and jobs with similar titles may have different descriptions. You may be a full-service logistics manager or work in one area of the chain.

Logistics managers usually few years of experience in lower-level positions like:

  • Dispatcher
  • Inventory control specialist
  • Logistician
  • Logistics analyst
  • Logistics engineer
  • Operations specialist
  • Supply chain specialist
  • Transportation logistics specialist

After working as a logistics manager for a few years, many move up the supply chain to higher management positions, including executive roles. Even though it may take you a while to become a logistics manager, it doesn’t need to be your last stop.

Best master’s in supply chain management programs

Attending a top master’s program can increase your earning potential. That said, the designation of “best school” is subjective and heavily dependent on personal fit. These rankings, which primarily come from US News & World Report data, are a good starting point.

Keep in mind, certain schools offer multiple degree formats—including online and hybrid. Top supply chain master’s programs include:

Top supply chain MBA programs include:

Best online master’s in supply chain management programs

Top online supply chain master’s programs include:

Top online supply chain MBA programs include:

(Last Updated on February 26, 2024)

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About the Editor

Tom Meltzer spent over 20 years writing and teaching for The Princeton Review, where he was lead author of the company's popular guide to colleges, before joining Noodle.

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