9 Careers in Transportation To Explore

Updated March 3, 2023

Transportation is vital to many people’s daily lives. It allows people to get where they need to be, and it boosts the economy by ensuring goods and materials arrive at specific destinations in a timely fashion. The transportation industry continues to grow, and it includes a wide range of career opportunities for different skill levels, preferred schedules, interests and abilities.

In this article, we discuss the benefits of careers in transportation and list nine types of transportation careers.

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Why do people choose transportation careers?

People may choose careers in transportation because they like to try new things, be a part of a team and experience the real-life effects of their work. Transportation and logistics careers provide the opportunity to work in a dynamic industry that continues to grow. These jobs often provide in a fast-paced environment with a variety of tasks and new challenges each day. Here are some reasons people choose careers in transportation:

New challenges every day

Careers in transportation require hard work, and every day may present a new challenge. For example, those who work in transportation may manage challenges like inclement weather. In these situations, you might use problem-solving skills to balance safety with efficiency when determining a solution. Navigating this type of challenge may help you feel proud and enjoy high levels of job satisfaction.

Opportunity for growth

Many transportation organizations provide opportunities for you to advance your career. These complex work environments allow you to learn new skills, develop leadership traits and challenge yourself to seek promotions. For example, you may start your career as a forklift operator, but over time, you may develop skills to become a warehouse supervisor or distribution manager.

Related: Opportunities for Growth: What They Are and Why They're Important

Real-life impact of your work

People regularly experience the real-life impact of transportation careers. Anything you purchase required careful planning, moving, distribution and transportation to arrive on your doorstep or on the shelf of your favorite store, and that can affect the economy. Choosing a transportation career related to travel also makes a clear real-life impact because you're responsible for the safety of your passengers and others.

Being a part of a team

Careers in transportation and logistics involve complex systems, effective communication and teamwork. Whether you’re a train conductor, forklift operator or logistics analyst, your actions require the help of and affect other people. It's important for you to enjoy working with others and being a part of a cohesive unit.

Related: The Importance of Teamwork (Plus 11 Ways a Team Benefits From It)

Job security

Companies often need to move goods and products, and people typically have places they need to go. This makes the transportation industry a fairly secure industry in which to pursue a career. This industry also offers many opportunities for growth and advancement, potentially strengthening your job security.

Related: How To Increase Job Security

Nontraditional schedule

Many careers in transportation require you to work hours outside of traditional business hours. For example, transportation jobs involved with warehouse operations and moving freight may require you to work overnight. Other transportation careers, such as the roles of a truck driver, airline pilot or water transportation workers, may require you to work long shifts over multiple days away from home.

Develop new skills

Transportation advancements continue to develop, constantly providing you with something new to learn. Many careers also require you to earn specific certifications, and these are opportunities for you to challenge yourself to try different things and master new technical skills.

Related: 16 Transportation Jobs To Consider

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9 types of transportation careers

Careers in transportation span across many niches. Transportation is a broad industry, and it includes any type of movement of goods, materials or people from one place to another. Here are nine types of careers in transportation:

1. Truck drivers

Truck drivers transport goods between locations. This can include deliveries from manufacturers to distribution centers and from distribution centers to individual locations. Truck drivers must understand how to operate and maneuver their vehicles safely, and they must also be comfortable driving for long periods of time under strict deadlines.

Here are some jobs for truck drivers:

  • Flat-bed driver

  • Delivery driver

  • CDL driver

  • Truck driver supervisor

Read more:Learn About Being a Truck Driver

2. Freight and material movement

Material movers handle items such as stock and freight, and may help prepare materials for transport or unload them from delivery. Their responsibilities may include carrying materials, wrapping or packaging products and cleaning equipment. This may be a good entry-level position because while it involves training, it rarely requires formal education.

Some jobs involving moving materials and freight include:

  • Forklift operator

  • Materials handler

  • Package handler

  • Production scheduler

  • Expeditor

  • Logistician

  • Packaging engineer

Related: What Is Freight Handling? (Definition and Necessary Skills)

3. Distribution and warehouse operations

Warehouses and distribution centers are an integral part of efficient cargo transportation. These environments combine the expertise of different levels of workers to ensure freight and goods get where they need to be on time. These types of transportation careers require a strong work ethic, careful planning and the ability to work in busy settings.

Examples of distribution and warehouse operations careers include:

  • Operations manager

  • Estimator

  • Distribution center manager

  • Inventory control analyst

  • Shipping and receiving clerk

  • Operations security

Related: Top Warehouse Skills You Need (And How To Improve Them)

4. Transportation and logistics

Transportation and logistics jobs involve coordinating and planning the details of transporting cargo from a point of departure to a destination. These are complex networks of workers actually moving items, such as truck drivers, and administrative positions, such as logistics experts. It's a changing field, and technology continues to enhance it.

Some transportation and logistics jobs include:

  • Logistics analyst

  • Logistics specialist

  • Logistics engineer

  • Transportation analyst

  • Import/export clerk

  • Dispatcher

  • Account executive

Read more: What Is the Logistics System and How Does It Work?

5. Air transportation

Air transportation careers include transporting both people and freight. These careers include every aspect of successful air travel, ranging from various types of pilots to mechanics to airport employees. Education, experience and certifications vary for each position.

Types of careers in air transportation include:

  • Commercial pilot

  • Airline transportation pilot

  • Air traffic controller

  • Flight attendant

  • Gate agent

  • Operations crew member

  • Flight instructor

Related: 7 Pilot Certifications To Advance Your Career (Plus Benefits)

6. Railroad transportation

Railroad transportation involves transporting freight or people. Railroad positions vary for specific jobs on trains or in rail yards. Many positions only require a high school-level education and include comprehensive on-the-job training.

Examples of railroad transportation careers include:

  • Conductor

  • Yardmaster

  • Locomotive engineer

  • Rail car repair

  • Train operator

  • Railroad brake operator

Related: 11 Jobs You Can Work in the Railroad Industry

7. Water transportation

Water transportation careers involve transporting either people or freight. Water transportation workers often have highly specialized responsibilities on the vessel they work on. This industry offers a variety of entry-level positions and other positions that require additional certifications.

Some types of water transportation careers include:

  • Captain

  • Deckhand

  • Marine oiler

  • Motorboat operator

  • Marine cargo inspector

Related: 13 Unique Water Industry Jobs You Can Pursue

8. Public transportation

Public transportation careers include a variety of specialty careers related to safely transporting people. These careers require professionals to follow road safety guidelines and routes with specific timelines for efficient, on-time transport. It's important for public transportation workers to have strong customer service skills.

Examples of public transportation careers include:

  • Bus driver

  • Subway operator

  • Van driver

  • Taxi driver

  • Route supervisor

  • Scheduler

  • Fleet manager

Related: How To Become a Taxi Driver (With Skills and Salary)

9. Private transportation

Private transportation careers require the safe transport of people from one destination to another. However, they may have special contracts, such as working for schools or private individuals. It's important for private transportation professionals to be safe, experienced drivers with strong customer service skills.

Types of careers in private transportation include:

  • Chauffer

  • School bus driver

  • Courier driver

  • Delivery driver

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