This is the story of my logistics job hunt.  I am back in Chicago and looking to make my mark in the logistics business, but first I need to find a job.  For the past few years, I did wholesale import/export in Korea and Philippines so I figured getting a logistics job back home would be a snap.  I was wrong!

Since I got back, I have been presented with lots of opportunities, but there is a lot of misleading and confusing “opportunities” in the logistics business.  For other logistics job hunters, I have listed the type of jobs that are available to ambitious twenty something’s.

1.  Operations

Operations people are responsible for all the tasks related to moving the freight (tracking, trucking, warehouses, customs compliance, auditing, billing, customer support, etc.). The starting pay ranges are usually decent but not outstanding.  Starting pay ranges from $35k to $50k per year. Operations jobs are typically 9 to 5, but may increase up to 50 a week or more during busy times.

I’ve met and talked to Operations professionals. Some love the work and others dislike it.  Operations work is very stable and the industry always needs experienced professionals. Travel is usually limited, but I met many expatriate operations employees while I was living in Asia.

Some companies will offer easy lateral movement into other departments from operations so it can be a great way to get your foot into the door. Some branch offices have zero lateral movement and only handle operations.

2.  Sales

Sales is where the money is at in the logistics business. Sales positions rely heavily on commissions rather than base salary. Work schedules are more hectic and may involve regular travel. Sales can be very lucrative but it’s not for everyone. Some companies will train you for six plus months in inside sales before moving you to outside sales.

 Getting a job in outside sales with a salary is pretty tough, but the commission only jobs are easy.  Base compensation ranges from acceptable to very lucrative and sometimes a car is provided for outside sales employees.

Some positions pay very high commission percentages and almost no base compensation or benefits. Such positions can be very lucrative to experienced professionals with many regular clients.

3.  Call center

Call center jobs seem to be the most commonly encountered jobs in logistics for entry level people.  The largest logistics companies hire lots of recent college grads every year.  Call center people typically are responsible for the routine tasks of moving freight for clients.  They may also do some cold calling or inside sales.  Call center jobs don’t pay well, typically starting in the $12 per hour range.  Sometimes these jobs will have an incentive bonus or small commission.   Advancement is usually non-existent and turnover is quite high.

Some call center positions do lead directly to decent Operations or Sales positions. A company will inform you if said position is a preparatory step to better roles.  Many call center positions use the same job titles as operations and sales positions, but they clearly lack lateral and horizontal advancement. Be wary of call center jobs that over promise and under deliver.

 Bottom line: While conducting your logistics job hunt, do your research and ask questions.  The website, is a great resource for researching companies and opportunities.

Will Wilkins III is an Asia-focused import/exporter who recently moved back to the United States to find a sales position in the Chicago area. He’s worked in Asia as a professional educator and photographer for the past 4 years in addition to wholesale e-commerce.  Email Will at [email protected].