Transportation Industry: Career and Salary Facts
Are you the type of person who dreads working behind a desk all day? Do you like driving, sailing or flying? Careers in transportation may interest you. Continue reading to discover the many options that may await you in the transportation industry. Schools offering Supply Chain Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What are the Types of Careers in Transportation?
Careers in transportation include jobs in the aviation, motor vehicle, rail and water transportation industries.
In the field of aviation you may work as an air traffic controller. In this career, you manage air traffic by using equipment that monitors and tracks airplanes. You may also use radio equipment to maintain contact with pilots. Your main duty is to keep the planes safe by properly directing pilots during take off, in flight and when landing.
Work as a pilot may involve flying commercial, private, cargo, law enforcement or crop dusting planes. You will use controls, monitors and other equipment to safely operate the plane. You may communicate with staff, passengers and air traffic controllers before, during and after a flight to give or get instructions, communicate problems or share information about your flight or plane.
If you work as a flight attendant, your main job is to make passengers feel safe and comfortable during a flight. You may greet passengers, assist with carry-on luggage storage, provide beverages and food, answer questions and direct passengers on safety procedures.
Motor Vehicle Careers
Bus driving occupations may include driving a school, transit or intercity bus. As a bus driver, you pick up passengers from bus stops and take them to their destinations. Buses usually run on a set schedule with set stops. You are responsible for driving safely, obeying all road rules and keeping passengers safe.
As a taxi driver, you will generally work in a city or town, driving passengers from one location to another. You pick up and drop off passengers at locations of their choice. You are responsible for the safety of the passengers in your cab and also for knowing the city or town well enough to take passengers anywhere they may want to go.
Chauffeur jobs involve driving a private vehicle, usually a limousine, and transporting clients to and from their chosen locations. You may work strictly as a driver for one client or you may work for a company and be hired out each day to different clients. It is your job to know how to get to and from client locations, maneuver through cities and get clients where they need to go at the correct times.
You may choose to work as a truck driver, driving a large truck and hauling cargo. Cargo can include a variety of items, including refrigerated goods or hazardous materials. The routes you travel may be within a small area or take you across the country. You may drive a company truck or your own truck.
Rail Transportation Careers
One career choice in rail transportation is a conductor. Work as a conductor includes managing train activity, keeping passengers safe, arranging train schedules, assisting passengers, coordinating staff duties and ensuring terminals are ready for train arrivals and departures. You may maintain passenger and cargo records and conduct checks of cargo.
As a subway or streetcar operator, you work in a city, taking passengers to and from scheduled stops. It is your job to follow train signals, ensure passenger safety, make announcements about stops and make sure the train is operating safely.
If you work as a train engineer, you are responsible for operating the train to safely transport cargo or passengers. It is also your job to monitor the controls of the train to ensure proper operating condition.
Rail yard jobs include brake operator, switch operator and yardmaster. As a brake operator, your job is to operate switches and to connect rail cars. Switch operators manage switches and monitor them to ensure they are working properly. As a yardmaster, you oversee the rail yard crew, coordinate traffic within the rail yard and keep activities moving smoothly and safely.
Water Transportation Careers
As a captain, you operate the ship and monitor all activity on-board. You may ensure passengers or cargo are safe as you travel, keep an activity log, supervise the crew and maintain the proper operation of all equipment.
You may work as a mate, watching over the deck. You may operate the ship if the captain is unable to. As a mate, you serve as the captain's assistant, helping him or her with tasks, such as managing the crew and helping to navigate around obstacles or dangers in the water.
As a ship pilot, you operate the ship while in a harbor or in other local waterways with which the captain may not be familiar. Once in open waters, your duties may be similar to a mate's duties.
If you work as an engineer, it is your job to maintain the ship, ensure it is operating properly and keeping it in working order throughout the course of the trip. You may have to make repairs or do routine maintenance while sailing.
What are the Requirements for these Careers?
Many careers in transportation require special licensing and on-the-job training. Most careers do not require a college education. It is also common for these careers to be strictly regulated by state and federal government agencies, which may dictate specific requirements you must meet.
Aviation Career Requirements
In any aviation career, you must meet regulations set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which manages air transportation (www.faa.gov). The training, education and licensing for aviation careers are handled through the FAA and may include obtaining a college degree, earning a license or passing certification tests.
Motor Vehicle Career Requirements
In a motor vehicle career, you are typically required to have a commercial driver's license (CDL). You may be required to earn special endorsements on your license to drive some vehicles or carry some types of cargo. Licensing requirements are often set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (www.fmcsa.dot.gov). In some careers, you may have to pass a background check and routine drug tests. It is common for all motor vehicle careers to require a clean driving record. There are training programs available to help you learn how to drive some vehicles, such as buses or heavy trucks.
Rail Transportation Career Requirements
Formal training is usually required for rail transportation careers. It is typical for employers to offer training programs to new employees. These programs usually include hands-on and classroom training. You may also find programs at colleges offering training in railroad operations.
You will likely start out in an entry-level position in the rail yard and work your way up to higher positions, such as conductor or engineer. If you work as an engineer, you must have an engineer's license, which requires meeting training requirements and passing knowledge and medical tests.
Water Transportation Career Requirements
Requirements for water transportation careers are managed by the U.S. Coast Guard (www.uscg.mil). You may have to earn credentials, attend formal classroom training and pass an examination. In some positions, such as a ship pilot, you may have to take an apprenticeship.
What are the Earnings and Job Outlooks for these Careers?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported earnings for careers in transportation as of May 2010 (www.bls.gov). The following figures for each career are reported as the mean annual wage.
Aviation Earnings and Outlook
The mean annual earnings for air traffic controllers in 2010 was $110,280. The projected job growth in this occupation as reported by the BLS for the period of 2008-2018 was 13%.
Pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers reportedly earned an average annual salary of $115,300 in 2010. According to the BLS, the job growth for pilots and flight engineers was projected to increase by 12% from 2008-2018.
According to the BLS, flight attendants earned an average annual salary of $43,350 in May of 2009 (2010 figures weren't available), with an expected job growth for 2008-2018 of eight percent.
Motor Vehicle Earnings and Outlook
The BLS forecasted a 16% job growth for chauffeurs and taxi drivers from 2008-2018. The average salary in 2010 for these careers was $24,580.
Bus drivers for transit and intercity routes earned an average salary of $37,060. The expected job growth for 2008-2018 was eight percent, as reported by the BLS. School bus drivers earned $28,660 and had an expected job growth of six percent from 2008-2018, according to the BLS.
The BLS reported a job growth of nine percent for heavy truck drivers from 2008-2018. The average wages in 2010 for tractor-trailer and heavy truck drivers was $39,450.
Rail Transportation Earnings and Outlook
For all rail transportation careers, the BLS reported an anticipated job growth of nine percent for 2008-2018. Locomotive engineers earned an average salary of $50,870 in 2010, according to the BLS. Conductors and yardmasters earned $52,370, while brake, signal and switch operators earned a mean annual salary of $48,820.
Water Transportation Earnings and Outlook
For the period of 2008-2018, the BLS reported a projected a faster-than-average 15% job growth for careers in water transportation. The reported mean annual salary for ship pilots, mates and captains was $70,500 in 2010. Ship engineers earned an average annual salary of $70,920.
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