How to Become a Distributor: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a distributor. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in logistics management.

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Should I Become a Distributor?

In general, distributors are professionals who sell and ship items from warehouses to vendors and, in some cases, from warehouses directly to clients. There are distributors for every industry, and each industry has different job requirements that distributors must meet. A bachelor's degree in business administration or logistics is usually required, along with at least five years of experience in the industry.

Distributors often work at central warehouse facilities, which allows them to monitor incoming shipments, inventory records, outgoing orders, employee safety and shipping logistics. They frequently collaborate with other managers about budget projections, distribution policies, new products and customer service records. Managers also write reports about such things as product distribution efficiency and cost-cutting recommendations. They often work long hours and frequent travel is required.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

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Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Business or logistics
Experience At least five years' experience with distribution accounting, inventory management, warehouse safety, shipping and customer service
Key Skills Familiarity with radio communications, barcode readers and product moving devices; problem solving, supervisory skills, customer service skills, knowledge of ERP systems and inventory records systems, Microsoft Office skills
Salary (2014) $85,400 (median salary for transportation, storage and distribution managers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*NET Online and January 2013 job postings on CareerBuilder.com.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

The majority of employers posting for distribution managers on CareerBuilder.com in January 2013 indicated that they preferred applicants with bachelor's degrees in fields such as logistics or business. Logistic management degree programs often cover topics like business transportation, global logistics, transportation analysis, inventory management, marketing and business logistics systems.

Step 2: Build Distribution Experience

Many employers advertising for distribution managers on CareerBuilder.com noted that they preferred candidates with at least five years' experience in the logistics and distribution industries. Individuals might want to consider related entry-level positions that provide training in such areas as inventory assessment, product routing, report writing and policy review.

Step 3: Learn About Industry Technology

Distribution facilities use various software programs, but one common program used by most companies is enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. ERP software manages and connects the various departments involved in distribution, such as accounting, engineering, sales, human resources, inventory, delivery and production planning. ERP systems allow distribution managers and other associates to communicate in real time about logistical issues; such communication can improve the rate of production, decrease spending and allow for faster deliveries. Employers posting on CareerBuilder.com also expected distribution managers to be competent with Microsoft Office software programs.

Step 4: Develop Management Skills

As professionals build experience in the distribution industry, they also need to further develop their management skills. For example, managers must know how to hire and train new workers. They also must have an understanding of scheduling personnel, delegating duties and making sure employees meet production quotas. Job postings on CareerBuilder.com for distribution managers also noted that employers wanted applicants with superior communication skills, especially since managers need to talk with other managers, vendors and customers on a regular basis.

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