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How do I Become a Distribution Manager?

By Carol Francois
Updated Feb 13, 2024
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The logistics and distribution industry experienced above-average growth in the early 21st century, creating many job opportunities if you want to become a distribution manager. The primary responsibility of a distribution manager is the coordination of materials. This includes the distribution network, storage, staging and control of all packages.

In order to become a distribution manager, post-secondary education is required. Although some community colleges offer programs in logistics and distribution, a two-year or three-year program in business administration or management is more than adequate for most employers. University training provides an advantage if you are are looking to gain management experience as part of a larger career plan.

People who work well under pressure, enjoy solving problems and are excellent communicators are most successful in this role. Intermediate-to-expert computer skills are necessary because of the complexity of software used to manage a distribution center. Conflict management, coaching and performance assessments also are part of the job for a person who has become a distribution manager. The number of direct reports will vary, but every manager will have staff members to supervise.

Work experience that is relevant if you want to become a distribution manager includes coordination of material shipments, managing multiple priorities and the prioritizing of conflicting resource needs. All of these skills can be gained in a distribution warehouse or in a shipping and receiving area. Many people gain this type of experience in a courier or delivery company.

In addition to specific tasks related to distribution, a central part of the job involves staff management, strategic planning and resource allocation. You can take additional courses or certificates to learn these skills. Formal certificates in human resources or management are a great way to improve these skills and build a more impressive resume. Multinational distribution companies might provide tuition support to help cover some of the costs associated with additional work-related training.

Employment opportunities for distribution managers can be found in distribution, courier or shipping companies. If you want to become a distribution manager, you should explore opportunities to work with a career counselor. You can conduct practice or mock interviews, which are a great way to get a professional appraisal of interview performance and obtain other advice. You also can hire a professional resume-writing service to create a more polished resume

Career advancement in this type of work can include positions as a district manager, director of distribution, warehouse manager or director of operations. These positions offer excellent compensation packages but require long hours. As a member of the senior management team, you would be expected to contribute to the strategic vision of the organization and find ways to increase profitability.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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