Warehouse management and logistics have become trending career topics after the fallout of the 2020 supply chain crisis. The need for expansive roles in management to help improve the shipping, management and warehouse industries has never been more apparent. These careers may yet see a rising demand as more work in manufacturing changes its base of operation as well. So, what is needed to get into the career of warehouse management and logistics?
What is a Warehouse Manager?
What exactly is the Warehouse Manager position? Why is it worth the work to get a promotion for it? They manage the warehouse and everyone and everything in it. A lot of detailed tasks are sent down the chain of command to the available workforce who specialise in it, such as data management and order procurement, but the manager has final say on who does what and how it’s done. Their main job is to make the warehouse operate smoothly.
Those who qualify for warehouse management usually enter the field with training and experience in the industry which allows them to head straight to the top of the localised chain of command. Most warehouse managers out there now have resumes which list experience such as customer service, operations and safety rule training. Operations being key, as it relates to the floor work of a warehouse, the pickers and forklift operators and daily job labor force.
The business of management is a business of procedure and protocol. It’s about knowing as much as possible about the industry from a local warehouse level to the grander scope of the international supply chain networks. Therefore, to get into things, you need an education. There are Bachelor programs in college for supply chain management and other industrial management applications. Business and finance should be where most study time goes, as managing a warehouse is all about maintaining a stable workforce and following established procedures for maximum efficiency.
With education handled, experience is required. Experience on the floor as a picker or forklift operator or even truck driver can give an educational experience that coursework just can’t. But these are careers of their own, with their own peaks and end points. Managers aren’t hired up from the floor, but working the floor gives the benefit of knowledge on how the flow of production goes. From there, new experiences can be gained with third-party logistics companies. These companies are all management and only management, and will be more open and willing to take on new hires from elsewhere in the industry.
For those who just want a running start into the career, entry-level positions don’t require experience in logistics, but logistics can apply to the field of expertise on offer. Entry-level positions which could lead to management are marketing, customer relations, quality controllers and buyers. These are all important positions in the supply chain itself. Proving yourself good at one and capable of handling and managing aspects of others will show the initiative necessary to move up the chain to a higher position.
Working at any position in the company, such as IT specialist, data managers, finance managers and human resource personnel will situate you at the managerial level, just not over the warehouse floor itself. These are mid-level jobs which require a credible range of skills in a certified field that is needed to manage the day-to-day regulation of a warehouse. Improving in one of these positions can yield higher pay or hire-up opportunities over time.
Other high level positions may not work in the warehouse, but will overlook it. Supply chain analysts, coordinators, production planners and purchasing agents all work at the levels which connect to the warehouse level. These are jobs which require attention to detail and some prescience on where the market might be going, along with risk management and risk assessment skills to know when the chain is being shaken up and how much damage a warehouse’s place in it might cause.
It’s also possible with the right education to become a manager of a warehouse manager, or work closely to a warehouse manager to the point where your roles may intersect or swap duties. It’s not quite skipping steps as much as it is climbing a different, parallel ladder. Logistics is a wide field with a lot of entry points and some are harder to scale than others. Personnel management may not be the best role for someone who is excellent at analysis and data structures.
One way to move up the promotional ladder is by gaining accreditation and certification in logistics specific skills and fields. Forklift operators are required to have OSHA approved forklift certification that proves they can safely operate their device. Having certification will automatically qualify you for higher job positions as it proves you have passed the training and examinations necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of that title. Other certifications include production and inventory management, supply chain professionalism and distribution and warehousing professionalism.
If you’re aiming for a promotion and a vertical move up the chain of command in a warehouse, it will take some time. Time spent learning, gaining certification, or experiencing other jobs will assist you up the ladder. Gaining knowledge and experience gains possibilities for all kinds of moves to achieve success in the warehouse management and logistics industry.
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