Labor Pains

Feb. 3, 2004
Labor pains I have always enjoyed the fact that no two days are the same. There are always new challenges to be met and new problems to solve. logistics

Labor pains

“I have always enjoyed the fact that no two days are the same. There are always new challenges to be met and new problems to solve.” — logistics manager in the transportation services industry in the Midwest earning $42,000

No one in senior management can spell logistics.” — logistics manager at a manufacturing company in the Southeast earning $99,000

There you have it — the general mood of logistics professionals encapsulated into two comments. While an overwhelming majority (81%) of all respondents in our salary survey are satisfied with their chosen professions, there is a distinct feeling that upper management sometimes doesn't appreciate and certainly doesn't always understand the role of logistics within their companies.

While Ohio State University and the Council of Logistics Management do a fine job every year with their “Survey of Career Patterns in Logistics,” we set out with a more focused goal in mind — we wanted to follow the money. To that end, we sent out an e-mail survey to subscribers promising anonymity in exchange for in-depth information about how much they make, what specific industry they work for, how long they've been in the logistics field and how pleased (or otherwise) they feel about their current job situation.

In the spirit of open dialogue, we also gave ample opportunity to weigh in with specific comments about whatever was on their minds. (see end of article for a rundown of our survey methodology.)

So what did we learn? Cutting straight to the chase, you told us that the average salary for all logistics professionals (which we've broken down into 11 different job categories) is $66,223. This “average logistics manager” is male, between 40-49 years old, lives in the Midwest, has worked in logistics for 11-15 years, and has worked for his current company (a manufacturer of industrial products) for the past 2-5 years.

That's the composite profile, but of course there's nothing “average” about logistics professionals. Thhis article will break down the survey results by examining a number of factors that influence how much you can expect to earn, based on where you work, how long you've been there and even your gender. Rather than just presenting the hard data, though (see charts throughout this article), we'll also let your colleagues tell their stories in their own anonymous words.

Experience counts

“Throughout my career transportation and the expense associated with it were looked upon as a necessary evil and therefore the transportation person also. There is never enough appreciation for the transportation professional that saves companies millions of dollars.” — director of transportation in the consumer goods industry with more than 25 years' experience in the Southwest earning $100,000

Two factors that logistics professionals have absolutely no control over are their age and their gender. Looking at age first, the breakdowns are pretty much the way you'd expect them to play out. The older you get, the more you tend to make.

Time spent within the profession also pays off — those with 20 or more years in the logistics field (30% of all respondents) averaged $73,225; in contrast, those with 5 or fewer years of experience are earning in the $54,169 range. Sticking with the same company for the long haul can also be a good career decision — of the 15% who haven't gone in search of greener pastures for more than 20 years, average salaries were $75,588. That's more than $12,000 higher than the $63,290 average of those who have changed jobs within the past 5 years.
Click here for average salary by industry.

A separate issue, of course, is whether $75,000 for a seasoned 20-year logistics executive is adequate compensation, especially given the ever-increasing number and variety of tasks assigned.

Battle of the sexes

As a woman in a predominantly male profession, women are definitely below the average in salary range.” — logistics manager in the automotive industry with 16-20 years experience in the Southeast earning $44,000

“I feel in this company I am underpaid because of my gender. It certainly is not based on the job I do or hours spent working.” — female logistics manager in the consumer goods industry with 20-25 years experience in the Northeast earning $33,000

At first glance, it looks like the logistics industry is still very much a man's world — after all, the discrepancy in average salary is more than $13,500. However, at least part of the difference can be accounted for by experience. For men, 65% have worked in logistics 11 years or more, while 58% of women were in the industry that long.

Perhaps more telling, and a larger point of contention for female logistics professionals, is how far up the ladder the two sexes have typically risen. Nearly 13% of all men in our survey have either C-level titles (CEO, COO, president, CFO, etc.) or a vice president-level position; for women, however, that number is only 5%.

Based on some of the comments we received from female respondents (men, not surprisingly, did not bring up the gender equity issue), the notion of “equal pay for equal work” has not yet taken root in the logistics industry.

Go west... or not

“I love my job, just not where I work.” — warehouse manager at a wholesale distribution business in the Midwest earning $31,000

“Our biggest challenge involves the hiring of competent employees who can work for the depressed wages this area of the country offers.” — logistics manager in the consumer goods industry in the Southwest earning $40,000

On paper, it says here that logistics professionals in the Southwest (which includes Southern California) are averaging $72,500, several thousand dollars more than any other region and more than $11,000 more than the Midwest. In fact, while the Northeast has the second-highest average salary ($69,496), the salary range for the entire West comes in at $70,504. That doesn't mean, though, that simply packing up and heading westward will automatically result in