Hard at work and lovin' it
Respondents to DCV's latest salary survey may be putting in long hours, but job satisfaction remains high.
By Ben Ames
With a roaring stock market, cheap gas, and solid job creation numbers, the U.S. economy has enough forward momentum to coast over the occasional rough spot—such as weak consumer spending during a snowbound February—a Bloomberg survey shows.
Likewise, the supply chain profession has seen vigorous job growth in the past year despite big league challenges like a West Coast port work slowdown and concerns about how to fund repairs to aging roads and bridges, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Now, DC Velocity readers are showing similar optimism with their enthusiastic response to the magazine's latest salary survey. Nearly 90 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with their jobs, citing the chance to solve problems and work with experienced colleagues. And 91 percent said they would recommend the logistics field to a young person entering the job market.
As for how these readers are compensated for their labors, respondents to our 2015 salary survey earned $112,850 on average, which represents a 5-percent drop from the $119,538 they reported last year. Likewise, the median, which is the midpoint in the list of all salaries reported, fell 8 percent to $94,000. That's a stumble from the $102,000 mark set in 2014 but still above the $90,000 median in our 2013 survey, and far above the meager $85,000 median pay reported during the fiscal crisis of 2009.
Despite the overall drop, well over two-thirds (68 percent) of the 294 qualified respondents said their annual compensation increased last year. In terms of size, those raises remained flat at just below 6 percent on average, slightly below the previous year's number. Meanwhile, about one-fourth (26 percent) said their salaries had stayed the same. Just 6 percent said they made less money in 2014 than they did the year before, although their sizeable cuts weighed down the overall average.JOB PROSPECTS LOOK GOOD
Despite the slump in salaries, context shows there is plenty of good news in these numbers. Readers of this magazine earn fatter salaries than the national rate for jobs in the field, government figures show. With a median salary of $94,000, DCV readers earned far more than the $72,780 per year reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012 (the most recent year for which statistics were available) for logisticians and supply chain analysts and coordinators.
Even better, our industry is brimming with new job opportunities for those in search of rewarding and challenging work. Logistics employers are forecast to expand their hiring by 22 percent over the coming decade—much faster than average for U.S. industry, the government says—adding an estimated 27,600 jobs to the 125,900 jobs existing in 2012.
If you're fortunate enough to get hired for one of those spots, be prepared to sweat for your paycheck. DCV readers report that they are working harder than ever, with 38 percent saying their work hours have increased over the previous three years. Only 7 percent said their work hours had decreased, and 55 percent said their workweek had stayed the same.
As for how that translates to hours per week, only 22 percent said they worked 45 hours or less during the average week. Another 69 percent said they typically worked 46 to 60 hours a week, including time spent working outside the office. And a no-doubt-exhausted 9 percent said they're logging more than 60 hours a week in their jobs.
One possible reason for the long hours is that most of the respondents have more responsibilities than they did in the past. Sixty-four percent of the survey participants reported that the number of functions they manage has increased over the past three years. Another 32 percent said their responsibilities had stayed the same, and just 4 percent reported a decrease.
The more responsibilities on your plate, of course, the more people to manage. No surprise, then, that more than two-thirds (69 percent) of survey respondents said they have five or more direct reports, an increase of five percentage points over last year.
Another reason why logistics professionals may be so devoted to their work is that on average, 15 percent of their compensation is based on performance. Although 42 percent of you reported no performance tie-in to your paychecks, a full 16 percent said performance incentives accounted for between 21 and 50 percent of their compensation.
Which titles pay the most on average? Corporate officers were at the top of the salary ladder. The average salary for C-level respondents was $243,913—slightly higher than the average salary of presidents, who at $222,533 were better paid than vice presidents ($193,913) and directors ($128,144).
From there, it's a big drop to the next levels. Managers made some $41,000 less than directors, and supervisors earned about $16,000 less than managers. Exhibit 1 shows the average salary for each title.EXPERIENCE, EDUCATION COUNT
Job titles may carry the most weight, but many other factors influence how much an individual logistics or supply chain professional makes. The region where you work, which industry you work in, your level of education, and how long you've been in the business will typically play a big role in determining your salary.
Let's start with education. Did your parents advise you to go to college so you'd make more money? They knew what they were talking about. Exhibit 2 illustrates the strong correlation between earnings and education. The average salary for respondents with only a high school diploma was $81,057. It was a big step up from there to a bachelor's degree—the highest level of education for nearly half the survey respondents. The average salary for survey participants who had earned a bachelor's degree was $125,221.
Experience in the field also influences earnings, as shown in Exhibit 3. The median—or mid-point—salary of newcomers to the profession (those with five or fewer years of experience in logistics) was $76,000, and for those with six to 10 years' experience, $66,500. Those figures jumped by at least $15,000 for the more experienced logistics professionals in our survey—respondents with 11 to 15 years' experience earned a median $91,500 and those with 16 to 20 years, $88,500. The most seasoned workers of all earned quite a premium for their experience, reporting a median salary of $95,000 (for those with 21 to 25 years under their belts) and $111,000 (for those with more than 25 years).
The industry you work in can also have a tremendous impact on your salary, as Exhibit 4 shows. The highest-paying industries included transportation equipment ($243,320), chemicals and allied products ($168,556), and apparel and footwear ($156,125). On the opposite end of the scale were automotive ($87,968), paper and allied products ($80,625), and contract warehousing ($77,129).
There have always been significant differences in pay scales across the various geographic regions, and that continues to be true, as Exhibit 5 makes clear. The highest average pay, $122,636, was in New England. Close behind were the South ($119,958), the Middle Atlantic ($118,788), and the West ($117,902). The laggard on the list was the Southeast, which came in below $100,000 with an average salary of just $96,103.AGE HAS ITS REWARDS
An array of other factors can have an influence on salaries. Our survey found that a respondent's age and gender, and the size of the company he or she works for can also make a difference.
Take age, for example. It's logical that salaries would increase with age, and that's exactly what the survey results showed. Younger folks—those in the 26 to 35 age range—earned a respectable $64,900 on average. Respondents aged 36 to 45 did much better, at $109,095, and the next bracket did better still, with readers aged 46 to 55 making another $5,000-plus a year more. Stick with this profession for the long haul and you will be rewarded; the elder statesmen (and women) aged 56 and over pulled down $124,499 on average.
For as long as logistics industry salary surveys have been around, women have lagged behind men in terms of compensation, and this year was no different. Female respondents earned an average of $86,955, while the average man who filled out our survey earned $117,550—a difference of more than $30,000, or 26 percent. Frustrating as that is for the hardworking women of the logistics profession, at least it marked an improvement over last year's survey results, when women's salaries fell 32 percent short of men's pay.
The difference can be attributed in large part to a lack of seniority and experience on the women's part. The women and men in our survey this year had similar education profiles—for both genders, about one-third had a high school education only, while slightly more men held bachelor's degrees (49 percent to 45 percent) and slightly more women had master's degrees (20 percent to 18 percent).
Some differences emerged from the numbers when we looked at titles, however. Although the percentages of women and men working as supervisors, managers, directors, and presidents were roughly equivalent, there was only one woman with a vice president's title, compared with 29 men.
There was also a difference in experience, as women were disproportionately represented among the cohort with fewer than 15 years' experience—women made up 21 percent of this group although they accounted for just 15 percent of the total respondent base. Likewise, they were underrepresented among the logistics professionals with 16 and more years on the job, making up just 12 percent of this group.
The size of your company may also make a difference in your salary. As you might expect, small businesses—those with fewer than 100 employees—pay the least, with an average salary of $82,799. Working for a larger company will get you a larger salary—with average paychecks coming in at least $23,000 higher for respondents working for companies with between 100 and 1,000 people on the payroll. The best checks came from the biggest corporations, with companies employing more than 5,000 people paying an average salary of $123,319.UPWARD BOUND
As anyone who's ever undergone a salary review well knows, there are factors beyond those listed above that might influence a person's compensation—considerations like job performance, departmental budget, internal politics, and perks and benefits.
But it's also clear that salaries reflect overall economic conditions. As orders and shipping volumes continue to climb, e-commerce expands, and more manufacturing returns to North America, demand for capable, knowledgeable logistics and supply chain talent will continue to grow. And that means the size of their paychecks is likely to trend upward for some time to come.
As part of our annual salary survey, we asked respondents how they feel about their profession: Are they satisfied with their choice? Would they recommend it to others? What do they like most about their jobs? What do they like least? Here's a quick look at what they had to say.
- Supply chain jobs are among the best available, thanks to new challenges every day, teams of skilled coworkers, and average salaries parked solidly in the six-figure range, readers say.
- Asked what they liked most about the logistics profession, respondents cited its variety of responsibilities and projects, and its fast pace. "Challenging yet rewarding, and [I enjoy] getting to lead teams and shape careers," one respondent said. Another person wrote that he or she enjoyed "Putting pieces together to look at the big picture and solve complex problems." And a third person loved the social aspect of work, saying, "Meeting a diverse demographic across the industry makes the job a lot of fun."
- Complaints about the work include some themes that would be familiar to any office worker: administrative work and documentation, terminating people, corporate politics, unreasonable customers, and lack of commitment from leadership.
- So, what would make survey-takers happier in their work, besides a pay raise? Respondents said they wanted more professional development opportunities, a better balance of work and family life, better IT tools such as computers and phone systems, and more independence. "Provide me with direct control over the areas for which I am accountable," one person pleaded.
About the Author
Ben Ames has spent 20 years as a journalist since starting out as a daily newspaper reporter in Pennsylvania in 1995. From 1999 forward, he has focused on business and technology reporting for a number of trade journals, beginning when he joined Design News and Modern Materials Handling magazines. Ames is author of the trail guide "Hiking Massachusetts" and is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism.
More articles by Ben Ames
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