As tempting as it may be to toss the conference brochures piled on your desk or delete those incessant e-mail Webcast solicitations, think twice before you do. They may represent opportunities you can't afford to ignore. With advances like RFID looming, the practice of logistics and supply chain management is changing as quickly as the numbers at the local gas pump. Like it or not, you'll need to continue your education if you want to keep up with the times.
But where do you go? If time is an issue, you can register for seminars or annual conferences offered by groups like the Warehousing Education & Research Council (WERC), the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, IWLA—The Association for Logistics Outsourcing, or the National Industrial Transportation League (NITL). You can sign up for educational Webcasts. Or you can enroll in certification program prep courses like the Certified Logistics Practitioner Program and the Computing Technology Industry Association's new RFID certification program.
If you're willing to make a longer-term commitment, you can look into courses offered by local colleges and universities. Many offer degree programs or certificates in areas like global logistics or supply chain management. Even if you don't live or work near a college campus, you can still pursue higher education—you just have to do it online. True, you may miss out on the classroom experience. But what you lose in atmosphere, you gain in convenience. With online programs, you can "take" a class at 3: 00 a.m. if you choose, and you can do it from the comfort of your home or even from a hotel room a thousand miles from home.
When deciding which route to take, you'll want to weigh the financial costs, time commitment and lasting value. What follows are some guidelines.