If you’ve been considering a career in the logistics industry, we can’t blame you! Okay, maybe we’re a little biased, but consider this: It’s an industry that’s stable (the pandemic only increased demand) and growing. It also has dozens of different types of career opportunities — even beyond entry-level careers.
But where do you start? What type of college degree should you get? And which major should you pursue?
We get it. There are a lot of choices out there. Anderson Trucking Service (ATS) has been hiring people in a wide variety of roles since our inception in 1955, so we understand what it takes to land your dream job and what it takes to succeed in that role.
The quick answer about where to start is, it depends. The biggest factor is the type of career you’re looking for. Keep reading to find out what type of degree you should pursue and what area of emphasis you should focus on.
What Degrees Are Used in the Transportation Industry?
The vast majority of the degrees logistics industry professionals have involve something with sales and/or marketing. That can mostly be attributed to the fact that a large chunk of every transportation provider’s workforce includes sales and customer service professionals. However, those degrees can be used in other specialties, like marketing (shocker, I know!), certain operations roles and safety departments.
You’ll also find a lot of people with a general business degree, which can be used in virtually any role you can think of within a logistics office setting, including sales, operations and administrative support roles.
Outside of the office, you’ll find fleet maintenance professionals with degrees in their respective fields, whether it’s diesel mechanic degrees, automotive degrees or any similar mechanical degrees.
Related: How to Succeed as a Diesel Mechanic: The 6 Skills You Need
All that said, we would probably lose count if we tried to tally up the different degrees ATS employees have, some of them in areas you’d never imagine — including history, education and paralegal. The list goes on and on.
What Level of Degree Should I Get for a Career in Transportation?
The quick answer, yet again, is it depends. Some career paths require very specific degrees, while others may not require a degree at all. Your areas of interest will determine the correct path for you.
What Can I Do With an Associate’s Degree in the Logistics Industry?
If you’re interested in a fleet maintenance career, you’ll likely want to look into an associate’s degree. Many mechanic-specific programs can range from nine months to two years in length. Some companies may even hire you without a degree as long as you’re willing to learn — and can do so fairly quickly.
You may also be able to find associate’s degrees in supply chain management or logistics-related focuses. These will help you prepare for careers like distribution center supervisor, traffic analyst and logistics coordinator. These two-year programs typically provide a general curriculum that introduces you to many areas of logistics, including a course or two dedicated to transportation management.
What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in the Logistics Industry?
When it comes to the office environment in the logistics industry, you’ll most commonly find people with a bachelor’s degree — although majors will vary.
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll find many people with degrees in sales and/or marketing and business. But there will also be degrees you’d never imagine. That’s because the major of focus isn’t necessarily where the value of a bachelor’s degree lies, depending on the role you’re pursuing.
Bachelor’s degree programs are made up of core courses along with electives to pursue your degree. You could choose courses in cost accounting, negotiations and communication studies, among other topics, as a way to tailor your education to your career goals.
A degree will help you with critical thinking skills, problem-solving and will teach you to look at a situation from many perspectives. This knowledge helps to reduce risk and eliminate problems and enhances short- and long-range planning in a career of your choice.
The Exceptions to the “Area of Study Doesn’t Matter” Rule
While many careers in logistics don’t necessarily care what field of study you pursued, there are certainly ones that do. If you’re interested in a career in one of the following fields, you’ll want a corresponding degree:
- Human Resources (HR)
- Information Technology (IT) — there are many careers under this umbrella, whether you pursue a computer science degree, programming/development major or something related
- Fleet Maintenance
What Can I Do With a Master’s Degree in the Logistics Industry?
Generally, a master’s degree won’t help you in the early stages of your career in the logistics industry. Gaining experience tends to be more valuable to logistics companies than education beyond a four-year degree right off the bat.
However, as you progress in your career, a master’s degree can come in handy — typically as you get into upper management. In some cases, your employer may even pay for you to go through a master’s degree program.
Project management, distribution strategies and global logistics are some of the courses you may encounter while you pursue a degree that can lead to advancement to management positions. Otherwise, the trusty ol’ Masters of Business Administration (MBA) can be useful for progressing in a less specific area of logistics.
Do I Need Any Certifications for a Career in Logistics?
In most cases, no certifications are required for a career in the transportation industry. That said, they can be helpful if you’re pursuing a career in IT, HR or fleet maintenance. Becoming HazMat certified can be useful as a salesperson or customer service representative because it will open doors to more freight opportunities.
Pursuing a commercial driver’s license (CDL) may be required in certain safety-related positions — or if you want to be a truck driver. 😊
What if I Don’t Know What Type of Logistics Career I Want?
It’s perfectly fine if you don’t know which area you want to spend your career in — after all, there are plenty of opportunities to choose from! If you’re at the point of determining a field of study, you can focus on sales, marketing or business — unless there’s a realistic chance you’d be interested in accounting/finance, HR, IT, fleet maintenance or legal.
A great option is pursuing a business administration degree and focusing your electives around logistics industry-specific courses. That way, you get a well-rounded skillset that serves you in the real world.
The skills you obtain through higher education — like critical thinking, customer service, negotiation and the ability to adapt to changing demands — can be more valuable than the specific degree you graduate with.
You should also consider attending an internship program with a transportation provider — like ATS. That will expose you to the vast array of careers the industry offers. That way, you can see firsthand what each role is like and determine which is the best fit for you.
And, depending on how you do in the program — and how close you are to graduating — you might even land a full-time job before you graduate.
What Degrees Are Useful in the Logistics Industry?
Depending on the type of career you’re hoping to land, the type of degree you graduate with doesn’t matter much. The most common fields of study you’ll find in logistics are:
- Sales and/or Marketing
- Diesel Technician
While those are the most common, there are employees across the industry with degrees you wouldn’t think of — or have never even heard of. And those degrees could be anywhere from nine months to six-plus years.
What matters most — depending on the field you’re pursuing — are the skills you gain through higher education, like critical thinking, customer service, negotiation and the ability to adapt to changing demands.
You may also want to obtain certifications specific to the field you’re interested in, like HR or IT, most commonly.
But what if you don’t know what you want yet? A general business degree may be the most universal across the industry; just spend time in elective courses that relate to logistics.
Also, consider an internship with a transportation provider near you. That will expose you to a wide variety of careers, which will help you hone in on the classes you should focus on. Who knows, that internship might even land you a full-time job before graduation.
Interested in an Internship?
If you’re having trouble deciding where you want to spend your career and would love to be exposed to several different options, consider ATS’ internship program. Over the course of several months, you’ll have the opportunity to spend time with sales, operations, marketing and more.
Depending on where you are in your college journey, you have options to be an intern during the school year or over the summer months.
If that sounds right up your alley, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us now to get the conversation started. Otherwise, if you know what career you want, take a look at the available careers here at ATS. The number of options may surprise you!