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Is Transportation A Good Career Path?

Takeways
  • Careers in the transportation industry are a great way to see the world.
  • Most jobs in transportation will require long periods away from home.
  • It is estimated that there are 1.9 million job openings each year in the industry.
freight broker with truck transport

Yes, transportation is a good career path that comes with lots of opportunities, exciting careers, and higher-than-average wages for many jobs. It is also expected that this industry will have 6% growth over the next few years and many companies are offering big sign-on bonuses due to the lack of workers.

Transport sector workers are an important part of our daily lives.

The people that work in travel and transport logistics are the people who bring us goods, and the people we love, so be nice to them! 

This article will help you see the many opportunities a career in transport can offer. 

The Importance Logistics Plays

Before we dive into careers in the public transport industry, it might be helpful to understand how logistics and transportation work together.

Also sometimes called, integrated logistics, it is the planning that happens to get goods and products to the end-user.

For example, Target places an order from a manufacturer for products to sell in its store. It will be up to the logistics coordinator to organize the warehousing, transportation, paperwork, and communication so Target knows when to expect their delivery.

Logistics can often be divided into inbound and outbound logistics.

  • Inbound logistics includes the sourcing of raw materials and supplies to produce products. It will include all the steps from procuring supplies to the final production of products.
  • Outbound logistics is the process of handling the products after they are produced. It will include the warehousing, storage, and transportation of the products to the customer at their individual locations.

Each of these logistics will require transportation services to get products and supplies from point A to point B. Managing this process requires several stages of logistics including sourcing from potential suppliers, getting quotes from suppliers, distribution, and transportation.

Logistics jobs are another option to consider but do often require some type of additional education like a degree in transportation or logistics.

Careers In The Transportation Industry

When most think about transportation jobs, we think of truck drivers, taxi drivers, or maybe even ship captains.

But with so many modes of transport available, there are numerous jobs at all levels. 

There are those behind-the-scenes jobs that make it all happen like the logistics people, warehouse workers, transport planners, and transport engineers just to name a few.

All of these players make effective cargo transport possible and make the transport industry complete. 

Transportation jobs are typically considered blue-collar jobs and these types of careers usually require no college education, but most do require some additional training or certification.

There are plenty of entry-level positions as well as jobs that require a bit more education. 

is transportation a good career path, truck driver on highway

Truck Drivers

Truck drivers might carry goods locally, or cross-country. The trucks might be big rigs or box trucks, but the work requires long hours of driving in all types of weather.

Right now, truck drivers are facing a large understaffing issue. There has never been a better time to become a truck driver. You will receive a higher-than-average salary, possibly a great sign-on bonus, benefits, and more.

You can choose to be an over-the-road (OTR) driver or keep your work local so you are not away from home too often. The highest 10% of truck drivers earn more than $70,000 annually. You can also choose to be an owner-operator to increase your earnings.

Long-haul drivers can spend weeks on the road at a time, which is often why the pay is higher. But they can also be on the road for a few weeks and then home for a few weeks. There is a lot of job security with experience for truck drivers! 

You will be required to go through training a acquire a commercial driver’s license.

Railroad Transport

A train conductor (also sometimes called a train engineer) is responsible for the operation of a commuter or freight train. Railroad transportation is one of the oldest methods of transportation we have, and it is still widely used to move goods and people all over the country. 

On commuter trains, they may assist customers, work with the engineer to ensure the train is on the course, and announce station arrivals. Commuter train workers will require strong customer service skills, so if people are not your thing, you may want to choose a different job in the transportation sector.

On freight trains, they may help unload or load freight and manage the distribution of the freight to keep the train balanced. There is a large range of salaries for these careers, but the median salary is $64,000 annually.

There is no shortage of careers in railroad transport with an estimated 4% increase in jobs in the coming years.

Garbage Collector

Garbage collectors are great local jobs that can have great benefits and wages that exceed $40,000 per year with no experience.

Whether you drive the truck or assist the driver, being a garbageman is hard – and dirty work but is a stable career with a strong career outlook. It also requires no formal education, making it a good option for those who want to go right into the working world. 

Delivery Driver

Delivery drivers can work for local restaurants or big companies to deliver goods.

From the United Parcel Service (UPS) to Amazon, there is no limit to the number of jobs available as delivery drivers. Typically these are minimum wage jobs but can be a good step into a company where you can land a full-time job.

Airline Transportation

Careers in air transportation include a variety of jobs like a helicopter pilot, a commercial airline pilot, or even a crop duster. Medical air transport that helps airlift people due to medical emergencies is another opportunity that is in demand right now.

These air transportation careers can pay very well, but of course, there is danger and often large amounts of time away from home. While an advanced degree is not always required, in most airline jobs you will need a commercial pilot certificate and ongoing training. 

Professional pilots can also work for air freight delivery services that focus only on transporting goods. 

Bus Driver

Bus drivers are considered public transportation workers and help people get to where they need to go. They will typically work for a city or municipality.

Bus driver jobs can include school bus drivers, commuter bus drivers, tour bus drivers, and more. They will be responsible for navigating routes in their designated areas and be able to easily adjust to take a more efficient route if traffic issues or accidents arise. 

One of the minor requirements for bus drivers in some areas is getting a CDL license with additional endorsements for different types of vehicles.

Private Transportation

Renting a limousine, or private jet, or getting a car to get to the airport are considered part of the private transportation industry. These will usually be private fleet drivers that might work for themselves or for a small business. 

Transportation services that are private can often pay much higher wages than other types of transportation, but require a much higher level of customer service. They need to make sure their fares are taken on the safest routes to their final destination and provide a comfortable driving experience. 

Marine Transportation

One of the largest transportation career path sectors is in our bodies of water. Marine transportation careers transport cargo or people across our waterways.

Marine transportation jobs pay very well, but you can expect to be away from home for very long periods of time.

Some of the top-earning marine workers are ship captains. A ship captain commands the ship and navigates the bodies of water to get the goods to where they need to be. While no degree is required, it does take years of work and training to get to this level.

There are also lower-level jobs with no requirements for entry-level positions like deckhands or ship fitters. 

Below are some additional careers in transportation, that actually do not require any kind of driving. These are the people that make our drivers able to do their jobs – so they are equally as important!

Below are some additional careers in transportation, that actually do not require any kind of driving. These are the people that make our drivers able to do their jobs – so they are equally as important!

Air Traffic Control

Air traffic controllers have a very high-stress job since they are responsible for making sure airplanes land safely at airports. This requires in-depth monitoring of other planes in the airspace and keeping in contact with aircraft pilots to keep them aware of any potential issues. 

These jobs do not require any advanced degrees but still pay very well due to the stress and responsibility the job holds. 

They often pay well and of course, there are courses and educational requirements. Air traffic controllers need to know all the regulations about air traffic and be able to keep accurate track of air traffic. Their attention to detail must be strong and the ability to work under pressure is a must. 

Aircraft Mechanic

Aircraft mechanics are an important part of the airline industry. They are responsible for aircraft performance and will need to be able to assess and fix any issues that are found. The safety of air travel depends on their ability to diagnose faulty equipment and technology.

The work they do can be on a commercial aircraft or a private aircraft.  

Aircraft mechanics can make a good salary and receive excellent benefits. They often also get the added bonus of flying free if they work for an airline. 

Freight Broker

A freight broker will work in an office and work with trucking companies to provide quotes to customers, create schedules, and be responsible for all the paperwork needed for shipping orders. Jobs in freight can also be part of the logistics industry.

Typically they work for themselves and can easily make 6-figures if they are go-getters. Their jobs are filled with complex tasks that might include calculations and negotiations. This means exceptional math and people skills are a must. 

Dock Worker

While the ship captain is responsible for getting the ship from point-A to point B at the wheel, dock workers are the team that makes all the other important elements happen. They may move goods from the ship to a final destination, operate heavy equipment, or get the docks ready for incoming ships.

Warehouse Worker

Warehouse workers work closely with the transportation team and distribution manager in a distribution center. They often have numerous tasks that are related to packing materials, moving, and doing inventory control.

They can also sometimes be called material movers or material handlers. Material movement is critical to the different distribution channels, so these are very important jobs.  

In other words, material handlers are responsible for the goods that are stored in warehouses and will assist in getting those goods onto the truck for transportation to their next destination. 

Typically these positions do not require any advanced educational skills. Usually, a high school diploma or GED is all that is required. The salary for material handlers is not very high, usually coming in at about minimum wage. 

Highway Maintenance Workers

Without these workers, our roads would be a mess. Even though they do not directly deliver goods or people, without their efforts to keep our roads safe and easy to drive on, truck drivers would have a hard time making deliveries.

What Do Transportation Jobs Pay

The range of pay for transportation industry careers is large. The jobs that are more dangerous, or have you away from home longer will often pay much higher wages. Experience level also plays a very big part in salary negotiations, so if you have years of experience; you can earn more.  

Below are some median salary statistics from 2021.

  • Water transportation workers: $62,000
  • Railroad workers: $64,150
  • Tractor-trailer drivers: $48,130
  • Passenger drivers: $37,540
  • Commercial pilots: $134,630
  • Delivery drivers: $36,660

s you can see, a career in transportation can pay significantly less for jobs that have little training or educational requirements like a delivery driver or taxi driver. 

Many jobs in the transport sector that pay higher wages like commercial airline pilots or truck drivers will require additional education, on-the-job training, and possible certifications.

A higher-level job like that of a transportation engineer (who plans and designs transportation systems) or transportation planner may have advanced degree requirements. But these can have a decent salary range that exceeds 6 figures.

What Is The Outlook For Careers In Transportation?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are 1.9 million job openings in the industry each year in the United States.

It is also expected that there will be a 6% growth in the industry through 2031.

5 Great Reasons To Work in Transportation

The transportation sector is a strong opportunity for you to create a comfortable living. But there is more to it than just the financial aspect!

Check out some of the great reasons working in this industry is a good choice.

See The World

Whether by ship, truck, or train you will have the ability to see the world! You can choose to work with a company that goes international or you can stay local if that is more your thing. But when you work in the transportation field – the opportunity to see and do new things anywhere in the world is yours!

Salary

Many transportation careers have higher-than-average salaries. This is great news for those that prefer not to college and who are ready to get right into the working world. As you build your experience and prove your value you can see great increases in pay.

Job Security

At the time of this writing, there is a huge need for transportation workers, there are so many more jobs than people to work them. This means you have the opportunity to get into a career that is secure! No matter what happens to the economy, transportation workers are always needed to move those goods.

Do Good

Being a truck driver is one of the top careers that make others happy, even if they do not see it. You are taking people on vacations, bringing goods to stores for them to purchase, and bringing happiness to families. There is something to be said for a career that is really making a difference in our everyday lives.

Never Boring

When you work in transportation and logistics, every day will bring something new and different. No two days will be alike! So, if getting bored easily is an issue, this is a great field to consider.

Cons Of Transportation Jobs

Well, we could not tell you all the good without sharing the not-so-good right?

There is no such thing as a perfect job! So although the pros of working in transportation outweigh the negatives, there are some things you should be aware of before jumping in.

  • Excessive time away from home
  • Can be tough on the body when driving or sitting for long periods of time
  • Weather issues can cause dangerous work conditions
  • The danger is real in many of these career opportunities
  • In many jobs, like delivery drivers, there is minimal opportunity to grow.

Final Thoughts

If you think transportation may be a good career choice for you, you will be happy to know that many of the jobs listed here do not require any advanced education. You may need some training or certifications, but most do not need any 4-year degrees and many have very promising career paths you can travel.

It is important to understand that careers in transportation require exceptional communication skills, the ability to solve problems, and the ability to multitask. Customer skills will also be important if you will be transporting people instead of products.

Whatever field of transportation is interesting to you can be an opportunity to build a new, successful career. So, get out there and make it happen! 

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions

Is transportation a good career path?

Yes, transportation is a good career path that offers lots of opportunities, great salaries, and job security. There are many entry-level positions that do not require a college degree as well as higher-level positions for those with more experience.

Is transportation in high demand?

Yes! With expected growth to be 6% or more through 2031, the demand is high for transportation workers.

What are the highest-paying jobs in transportation?

Commercial airline pilots, ship captains, OTR truck drivers, and helicopter pilots are some of the highest-paying transportation careers. These jobs often see earnings over $100,00 annually.

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