What Is a Transportation Manager? (With Skills and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 22, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Transportation managers play an important role in making sure goods are shipped and delivered in a safe and efficient manner. Many transportation managers earn a higher-than-average salary and enjoy a fairly predictable schedule. If you are interested in working as a transportation manager, it may benefit you to learn what this career entails. In this article, we explore what a transportation manager is, what they do, the top skills a transportation manager must have and tips for pursuing this career.

Related: 10 Careers in Transportation To Explore

What is a transportation manager?

A transportation manager is a transportation professional who oversees the shipment and delivery of goods from one location to another. They are also responsible for managing tasks and duties related to transportation activities within a company. Many transportation managers take part in the hiring process of other transportation employees, such as drivers, manage transportation staff and ensure transportation employees comply with regulations and rules pertaining to safe transportation.

Additionally, some transportation managers may oversee the movement of people in addition to or instead of goods. For example, a cruise ship may hire a transportation manager to ensure all passengers are safe throughout the duration of their trip. Transportation managers can work in a variety of transportation fields, including highway, rail, air and ocean. Common employers of transportation managers include government agencies, manufacturing companies, freight companies and warehousing businesses.

Read more: Learn About Being a Transportation Manager

What does a transportation manager do?

Transportation managers' duties vary depending on their place of employment and their specific industry. Common duties for these professionals include:

  • Controlling transportation operations by overseeing activities related to routing, dispatching and tracking the transportation of various vehicles and aircraft

  • Taking part in the hiring process of other transportation employees that assist in transportation activities

  • Ensuring proper loading and unloading of goods before and after transportation

  • Overseeing any investigations into shipping complaints made by customers or shippers

  • Ensuring transportation vehicles are properly maintained and scheduling routine maintenance and repairs for the transportation fleet

  • Coordinating with outside organizations to offer freight services to customers

  • Developing policies and procedures for transportation operations for personnel to follow

  • Coordinating shipment and routing to ensure the least expensive and fastest shipping options

  • Securing contracts with other transportation companies or customers

  • Preparing transportation budgets and adhering to them throughout the transportation process

  • Ensuring shipping documentation is properly prepared and maintained

  • Staying up to date on various transportation regulations, such as those related to freight classifications and hazardous shipping materials or shipments

Related: What Is Logistics and How Does It Work?

Salary for transportation managers

The average national salary for transportation managers in the United States is $62,647 per year. There are several factors that influence how much a transportation manager makes, including their level of experience and education, their place of employment and where they live. For example, transportation managers working in the Atlanta, Georgia, area make on average $93,810 per year, while those working in Memphis, Tennessee, make around $77,176 per year.

In addition to salary, transportation managers also often enjoy a number of benefits. These benefits may vary based on the professional's place of employment. Common benefits for transportation managers include:

  • 401(k) matching plans

  • Flexible spending account

  • Dental insurance

  • Health insurance

  • Vision insurance

  • Life insurance

  • Tuition reimbursement

  • Employee stock ownership plan

  • Paid time off

  • Employee assistance program

Skills for transportation managers

There are a few key skills that transportation managers need in order to be successful in their positions. These skills include:

  • Organizational skills: Because transportation managers are responsible for overseeing various moving parts related to transportation as well as employees and logistics, they must be highly organized.

  • Communication skills: Transportation managers are constantly in communication with other transportation employees, customers and other members of their organization. They must have strong communication skills to ensure they receive clear messages and understand all orders.

  • Attention to detail: Transportation managers need a high level of attention to detail to ensure all aspects of the transportation process run smoothly. From ensuring all transportation vehicles are well maintained and functioning normally to monitoring shipments, each aspect of a transportation manager's job requires this skill.

  • Decision-making skills: Transportation managers are often the individuals who make decisions in relation to a company's logistics and transportation department, and they must be able to do so in an effective and swift manner. Many transportation managers have to make sudden or last-minute decisions, so being able to quickly process information and make sound decisions is essential.

  • Customer service skills: Many transportation managers oversee customer or shipper complaints and must be able to handle these complaints in a friendly and effective manner. Having good interpersonal and customer service skills ensures these professionals can clearly communicate with others in a way that is well-received and does not result in lost business.

Related: How To Write a Resume for a Transportation Manager (With Template and Example)

Tips for becoming a transportation manager

The following are a few tips to keep in mind when pursuing a career as a transportation manager:

  • Get industry experience. The better you know the industry you want to work in, the more effective and successful you'll be as a transportation manager. Spend some time interning or working in the specific industry you wish to work in and take time getting to know the ins and outs of the industry.

  • Study transportation logistics and the transportation industry. The more familiar you are with the logistics and the transportation industry as a whole, the more confident you will be when working as a transportation manager.

  • Practice working with relevant software. There are several software tools that transportation managers must be familiar with. A few of these include Infoplus and FreightPath. Spending time getting familiar with these tools may decrease your learning time on the job and impress employers.

  • Consider investing in training or certifications. Many transportation managers need skills that aren't always obvious when applying for this type of job. For example, these managers often need strong business skills and written communication skills. If there are areas you feel you are not as well-versed in, consider taking a course or training class to increase your knowledge and skills.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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