By Macky Weaver
The logistics and transportation industry in the U.S. is broad and highly competitive. The industry is defined by multinational companies that facilitate the flow of goods throughout the world’s largest consumer market. The industry benefits from a highly skilled workforce, but companies are increasingly finding it challenging to recruit enough candidates with the right kinds of skills to satisfy job demand. This is great news for those considering entering the logistics workforce. It translates into abundant career opportunities and higher wages and benefits, particularly in logistical hubs like Florida and port cities like Jacksonville where the need for logistics coordinators is at an all-time high.
But what are the skill sets required to do the job? Here’s a little more information about the industry, the role and the 5 critical skills you’ll need if you’d like to pursue a career in this exciting field.
What do Logistics Coordinators Do?
Just like the title implies, logistics coordinators help oversee and coordinate the movement of goods. Their responsibilities include communicating with suppliers, customers or retailers, keeping updated records concerning shipments, and using computerized programs to advance an efficient supply chain operation.
The Best Places to Find Logistics Jobs
The Southeastern United States has several major port cities and transportation hubs with Florida being one of the key markets. Florida is an exportation gateway to the U.S., Latin America and the rest of the world. The state’s transportation infrastructure includes 20 airports, 15 deep water seaports, 2 spaceports, 3,000 miles of rail tracks and 122,000 miles of highways. In 2018, Florida businesses exported over $57 Billion in goods to over 190 countries, making the demand for logistics professionals exceptionally high. According to Enterprise Florida, the state employs more than half a million people in trade, transportation and logistics.
The Bureau of Labor & Statistics (BLS) reports that as of Sept. 2019, the overall unemployment rate in Florida was an already low 3.2%. For the Trade, Transportation & Utilities sector, it was just 1.1%. Indeed, it is the largest employment sector by number of jobs in the state (1,810,800), even outranking Professional Business Services (1,422,500) and Leisure & Hospitality (1,265,400).
In some areas like Jacksonville, FL, which is home to companies like CEVA Logistics, Coach, Crowley Logistics, CSX Intermodal, Florida East Coast Railway, Florida Rock & Tank Lines, Höegh Autoliners, Honeywell Technical Solutions and Landstar Systems, Inc., the unemployment numbers are currently actually in negative figures (-1.6%), meaning open positions can’t be filled for long periods of time. In fact, every graduate from the University of North Florida’s Logistics Program automatically gets a job offer letter due to local demand! This demand translates in lucrative wages. According to the BLS, as of 2018, the median pay for logistics coordinators with a Bachelor’s Degree was $74,600 per year.
What Skills Does a Logistics Coordinator Need?
A Bachelor’s Degree is usually preferred to become a logistics coordinator. However, an Associate’s Degree with a concentration in Business, Management or Engineering might also be considered. There are numerous industry certifications that can put an individual on this career path including Operations and Database Management, System Dynamics, and training in software and technologies such as radio-frequency identification (RFID). Regardless of what kinds of degree or certifications on might have, all logistics coordinators at minimum will want to possess the 5 following critical skills:
- Communication Skills – It is vital to have good communication skills in a job that requires people management. A good communicator will be able to effectively get timely, accurate information to those around him/her, and do so in a way that builds strong relationships with clients, co-workers and vendors.
- Critical Thinking Skills – Critical thinking is about knowing what to do with the information you receive. As a logistics coordinator, you will need to be able to research, analyze, interpret and determine the correct course of action based on the information you have received.
- Customer Service Skills – You will need to know how to deal with a customer who feels they are right. If you do not have the ability to give the customer what they are wanting, then you need to be able to soften the blow and do whatever you can to win that customer’s return business.
- Organizational Skills – A logistics coordinator typically has many different things going on at once, all critical to their success. This means that staying organized and knowing how to prioritize are vitally important.
- Problem Solving Skills – You need to be able to figure out what the problems are and find solutions. Sometimes, this may be under intense pressure, so you need to be able to think fast on your feet.