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A logistics engineer handles supply chain management to ensure that raw and finished goods arrive where they need to go in a timely fashion. Large corporations and organizations like militaries tend to have use for logistics engineers, although they may be known by other job titles, depending on the organization. Job opportunities and pay scales vary depending on experience, organization, and current economic conditions. Sluggish economies can make it hard to find work in logistics, as fewer goods are in transit as a result of falling consumer demand.
Every step of the supply chain can require input from a logistics engineer. This person's goal is to anticipate supply needs to reduce the risk of holdups related to lack of supplies. The logistics engineer can be in charge of purchasing, moving, and storing goods. This may involve a large network, as in the case of companies that move goods internationally and need to be able to distribute products and supplies to multiple branches. A car manufacturer, for instance, might have multiple plants, each with different supply needs.
Some aspects of logistics engineering can involve the application of math and science. This can include the use of equations to calculate supply needs and to determine the most efficient way to get goods where they need to go. Logistics engineers also need good people skills, as they may negotiate with contractors, suppliers, shippers, and other parties to handle the supply chain on behalf of their employers. Flexibility can also be a critical trait as obstacles like transit strikes, bad weather, and other issues may arise to foul the supply chain.
Support teams usually assist a logistics engineer. These include administrative personnel as well as people who can handle delegated tasks. Regular meetings are a common part of the job to keep all staff members abreast of recent developments. The logistics engineer may also need to meet with executives and supervisors in various departments to discuss ongoing needs and respond to them. The work can also include discussing new products and services in development to determine what kinds of supply chain changes may need to be made to accommodate them.
There are several available paths to become a logistics engineer. Many working logistics engineers have at least a bachelor's degree in systems engineering or business, and some hold graduate degrees. Experience in an industry can be helpful, especially for systems engineers who work for military contractors, some of whom prefer to hire veterans to take advantage of their familiarity with the service.