Transportation Careers

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More than eight million Americans have transportation jobs, including over three million truck drivers who transport raw materials and products throughout the nation. A growing population increases the demand for products which creates growth in the transportation industry.

Some transportation careers require postsecondary education, whereas other transportation careers require training obtained through a trade school or on-the-job training. Transportation careers such as pilot, air traffic controller and postal worker require extensive, specialized training.

The transportation industry also includes clerical and management jobs. Typically, a transportation manager oversees all transportation services for a company.

TheBestSchools provides important information about transportation careers such as salary, employment growth, training and much more.

After you read through this page on Transportation Careers keep browsing our website's extensive career guide for more information on job options, education requirements and salaries.

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Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Education and Certifications Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics Need

A vocational or postsecondary training program in automotive service technology is the new standard for automotive technician and automotive mechanic entry-level jobs. Automotive service technology programs typically last six months to one year, although some schools offer a two-year Associate in Automotive Service Technology degree program. Automotive manufacturers and dealers sponsor many of the associate degree programs.

An automotive service technician career typically begins with on-the-job training, working under the instruction of an experienced technician for two to five years before being considered a fully qualified service technician. Automotive service technicians generally work another one to two years before becoming familiar with all types of repairs.

Automotive service technicians working with refrigerant are required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to obtain a license in proper refrigerant handling.

A majority of employers require automotive service technicians to become certified from the National Institute of Automotive Service Excellence. Automotive service technicians can become certified in any of the following: automatic transmission/transaxle, brakes, electrical/electronic systems, engine performance, engine repair, heating and air conditioning, manual drive train and axles, or suspension and steering. A Master Automotive Technician has certification in all eight areas.

The Certified Professional Manufacturers' Representative (CPMR) certification or the Certified Sales Professional (CSP) demonstrates industry credibility.

Find the best school for you: The 20 Best Automotive Mechanic Schools

What They Do

When your vehicle breaks down, leaving you feeling frustrated and lost, it is usually the automotive service technician or automotive service mechanic who saves the day and gets your vehicle running well once again.

Automotive service technicians and automotive service mechanics perform a wide variety of jobs on cars and light trucks, keeping them well maintained and correcting any existing problems.

Typical responsibilities of an automotive service technician and automotive service mechanic include testing parts and systems of vehicles and using diagnostic equipment when working on mechanical issues.

Automotive service technicians and mechanics conduct regular maintenance on vehicles, including oil changes, lubricating the engine, tune-ups, tire rotations and replacing parts such as brake pads and wheel bearings. The test all work performed to ensure full safety.

As automotive technology advances, automotive service technicians and mechanics must also learn to work on vehicles with numerous electronic parts and systems as well as vehicles running on alternative energy sources.

An automotive service technician career involves speaking directly with customers, explaining the work they performed and any issues they may have found.

Automotive service technicians may also chose to specialize as automotive air-conditioning repairers, break repairers, front-end mechanics, transmission technicians and rebuilders, or tune-up technicians.

See also: What can I do with an Automotive Technology degree?

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $39,550
2016, Number of Jobs 749,900
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 6%
Entry-Level Education Requirements Postsecondary Nondegree Award
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $65,430
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $22,610

Bus Drivers

Education and Certifications Bus Drivers Need

People interested in a bus driver career, typically need a commercial driver's license (CDL) and training and they have to meet hearing and vision test standards. Training consists of one to three months practicing bus maneuvers and light traffic driving that leads to practice runs on specific routes. Experienced bus drivers accompany the new trainees and provide performance evaluations.

Bus drivers need to pass a written test and a driving test to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). Bus drivers may also need special endorsements to drive a school or passenger bus. People need to pass knowledge and driving tests to obtain a school (S) endorsement or a passenger (P) endorsement. Bus drivers also have to pass random drug and alcohol tests during their bus driver career.

What They Do

Travelling via a bus anywhere within cities and towns around the U.S. requires the skill, safety and dedication of bus drivers. Bus drivers pick up and deliver individuals and groups between different places such as school and work settings and sometimes they cross state lines. Bus drivers travel a range of routes from local town and city routes to chartered tours. In addition, they drive different types and sizes of vehicles and motor coaches, from 15-passenger to 100-passenger buses.

Bus driver careers include picking up and dropping off passengers at specific locations and following regular routes on a time schedule. Bus driver careers also include checking all mechanical features such as tires, oil and lights and assisting disabled passengers.

Bus drivers have to obey all state and federal transit requirements and traffic laws, follow all passenger safety procedures and inform passengers of any mechanical or other delays.

Career Advancement Opportunities

Bus drivers have limited career advancement opportunities; however, an experienced bus driver can become a driving instructor, dispatcher or supervisor.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $33,010
2016, Number of Jobs 687,200
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 6%
Entry-Level Education Requirements High School Diploma or Equivalent
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $47,860
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $18,790

 

Cargo and Freight Agents

Education and Certifications Cargo and Freight Agents Need

Typically, people interested in a freight career need a high school diploma or a GED and on-the-job training. As training progresses, cargo agents take on more complex jobs such as notifying customers of shipment times and deliveries as well as monitoring shipments en route.

Cargo and freight agents use specific shipment software programs and computer databases which require a short time of computer training.

What They Do

If moving people and products by land, air, rail and sea sounds like an interesting job, then a cargo agent career may be in the future. Cargo and freight agents coordinate and expedite incoming and outgoing shipments for airline, train, trucking and shipping transportation businesses.

More specifically, a typical day for a cargo and freight agent includes deciding particular shipping routes and methods from pick-up locations to drop-off destinations, advising clients on shipment and payment methods and organizing transportation and logistics details with freight companies.

A cargo agent career and a freight agent career include recording all products shipped, accepted and stored, negotiating and arranging shipment charges and postal rates and notifying customers of cargo arrival and delivery arrangements. A cargo agent career and a freight agent career also include organizing bills of lading and other shipping paperwork, documenting cargo weight, size, and shipment times and tracking the progress of shipments.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $41,820
2016, Number of Jobs 89,920
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 10%
Entry-Level Education Requirements High School Diploma or Equivalent
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $65,600
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $25,670

 

Delivery Truck Drivers and Driver/Sales Workers

Education and Certifications Delivery Truck Drivers and Driver/Sales Workers Need

People interested in a delivery truck driver career or a driver/sales worker career need a high school diploma or equivalent and a state-issued driver's license and undergo less than one month of training on the job. The training typically includes working with an experienced driver who rides along with a new worker to make sure that he/she is able to operate and handle a truck in difficult road conditions. In addition, drivers may also take classes from their employer to learn policies and procedures.

What They Do

If working at a fast paced, physically demanding job which requires many hours of driving and interacting with businesses and customers sounds interesting, then a delivery truck driver career or a driver/sales worker career may be in your future. Delivery truck drivers pick up and drop off goods on established routes within a specific region. They also deliver products from distribution centers to households and businesses. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers handle light vehicles with a capacity of less than 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW).

Delivery truck driver careers and driver/sales worker careers include obeying all traffic laws and trucking policies and procedures, loading and unloading goods and inspecting and reporting any mechanical issues. Delivery truck driver careers and driver/sales worker careers include reporting any road issues to a dispatcher, making sure all vehicle supplies are in working order, taking payments for shipment and dealing with all necessary paperwork and receipts.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $29,250
2016, Number of Jobs 1,421,400
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 4%
Entry-Level Education Requirements High School Diploma or Equivalent
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $48,730
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $17,660

 

Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics

Education and Certifications Diesel Service Technicians and Mechanics Need

A diesel mechanic career or diesel technician career begins with at least a high school diploma, but most employers seek diesel technicians and diesel mechanics with an Associate of Diesel Engine Repair degree or a Diesel Engine Repair certificate. Many community colleges and trade and vocational schools provide diesel engine repair programs which take from six months to two years to complete.

Some employers may hire individuals without a postsecondary degree; they learn through three to four years of on-the-job training.

Diesel mechanics and diesel technicians frequently attend special training classes conducted by manufacturers and vendors to keep up on changing technologies.

Diesel mechanics and diesel technicians don't need certification, although it is highly recommended. Certification is a recognized industry credential. Diesel mechanics and diesel technicians receive certification through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence. Diesel mechanics may obtain certification in specific areas, such as drive trains, electronic systems, or preventative maintenance and inspection. Certification must be renewed through massing one or more ASD exams every five years.

A diesel mechanic must obtain a commercial driver's license to test-drive buses or large trucks.

Find the best school for you: The 20 Best Automotive Mechanic Schools

What They Do

Diesel technicians and diesel mechanics are the superheroes of the mechanic world – there is little these individuals can't do; they keep the nation's powerful machines, trucks, and buses running.

Diesel technicians and diesel mechanics inspect and repair any machine with a diesel engine, whether it's a car, truck, bus, bulldozer or crane.

To diagnose problems diesel technicians interpret data from a variety of tools, including dials, gauges, and computer equipment. Diesel technicians and diesel mechanics increasingly use computerized diagnostic equipment such as microprocessors and laptop computers to help diagnose problems.

Diesel technicians and diesel mechanics perform tasks as simple as changing oil, checking batteries, and lubricating parts to complex tasks such as inspecting brake systems, transmissions, and engines. It is also common for diesel technicians and diesel mechanics to disassemble and reassemble parts or equipment. They also help retrofit engines to meet new emissions standards.

See also: What can I do with an Automotive Technology degree?

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $46,360
2016, Number of Jobs 278,800
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 9%
Entry-Level Education Requirements High School Diploma or Equivalent
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $69,870
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $30,400

 

Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers

Education and Certifications Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers Need

People interested in a heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver career typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, at least two years of work experience and obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). Requirements for getting a CDL vary by state but they typically include passing both a written and driving test.

Random drug and alcohol screenings are required for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers while on duty. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers who fail drug/alcohol tests and/or receive felony convictions have their Commercial Driver's License suspended.

Training usually involves on-the-job learning; however many truck drivers attend professional driving schools where they learn heavy vehicle maneuvers and federal laws governing truck driving.

Truck drivers can get endorsements to their CDL by demonstrating their ability to operate a specialized type of vehicle such as a hazardous material truck (HAZMAT). Transporting hazardous materials requires a hazardous materials endorsement (H) and a background check.

What They Do

If spending many hours out on the open road and working within the trucking industry sounds interesting, then a trucking career may be in your future. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers collect delivery instructions and transport goods over different intercity routes. Often, these routes span over several counties, cities and states and many times companies will use two drivers on very long runs to help shorten downtime.

A typical day for a heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver consists of loading, unloading and transporting goods, spending many hours and days driving long distances and obeying all traffic laws. Heavy and tractor-trailer drivers also maintain and inspect all trailer equipment and record any issues or defects they may find before or after a long run, record activity logs, report any maintenance or mechanical issues and clean trucks.

See also: What can I do with an Automotive Technology degree?

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $42,800
2016, Number of Jobs 1,871,700
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 6%
Entry-Level Education Requirements Postsecondary Nondegree Award
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $64,000
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $27,510

 

Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians

Education and Certifications Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Service Technicians Need

Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians typically need a high school diploma and informal on-the-job training to begin a career in the field. However, employers look favorably upon candidates who completed a diesel technology program or a heavy equipment mechanics program offered through trade schools and equipment manufacturers that last from 1 to 2 years.

During training, a mobile heavy equipment mechanic works with experienced mechanics to learn basic tasks. In time, trainees learn to complete more difficult tasks, such as engine overhauls. This whole process can take from several months to four years. Although not required, certification demonstrates competency in specific areas of mechanical service.

What They Do

A heavy vehicle service technician career appeals to people interested in mechanics, construction and farming equipment and diagnosing and repairing heavy vehicles. It's a physically demanding career.

Mobile equipment service technicians diagnose, overhaul and repair mobile hydraulic, mechanical, and pneumatic equipment such as bulldozers and cranes.

A typical workday for a mobile heavy equipment mechanic involves travelling to different worksites to inspect, overhaul and repair large equipment such as bulldozers. They review operating schematics, drawings, and manuals.

Mobile heavy equipment mechanics maintain equipment by cleaning and oiling parts, identifying malfunctions, repairing worn parts such as gears and bearings, inspecting and overhauling large components such as engines and electrical equipment as well as ensuring the safety of brakes, transmissions and other parts.

See also: What can I do with an Automotive Technology degree?

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $49,440
2016, Number of Jobs 192,100
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 8%
Entry-Level Education Requirements High School Diploma or Equivalent
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $74,200
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $31,450

 

Material Moving Machine Operators

Education and Certifications Material Moving Machine Operators Need

Some material moving machine operator jobs require a high school degree and training. However, there are no formal educational requirements to begin a material moving machine operator career. Material moving machine operators need a license in several states and cities.

The type of machine an operator uses dictates the amount of training needed. Many material moving machine operators receive a month or less of training.

The International Union of Operating Engineers offer operators who use heavy equipment apprenticeship programs which combine company training and technical instruction. Operators learn many safety rules and policies during training. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) both set the standard in safety training for material moving machine operators.

What They Do

If you considered playing with construction and digging toys fun as a child and transporting heavy materials with complex machinery, such as cranes, sounds like an interesting job, then a material moving machine operator career could be in the future.

Material moving machine operators use industrial equipment and vehicles to move many objects such as sand, gravel, coal and construction materials. Material moving machine operator careers involve moving materials according to schedules from supervisors, inspecting equipment and logging all activities performed each day.

Industrial truck operators: Drive trucks and other vehicles to move heavy objects around storage yards and other work areas.

Excavating and loading machine operators: Use equipment to dig out sand and other materials and load them onto conveyors for transport.

Dredge operators: Remove gravel or rocks from lakes or harbors to help keep water passages navigable.

Underground mining loading machine operators: Load ore and other rocks onto mine cars and other equipment for transport to the surface.

Crane and tower operators: Use cable machines to move machinery and heavy materials at constructions sites and other areas.

Hoist and winch operators: Control cable or platform movement which transports materials or employees for industrial jobs.

Conveyor Operators: Operate conveyor systems which transport materials on a moving belt.

See also: What can I do with an Automotive Technology degree?

Career Advancement Opportunities

Some material moving machine operators move to a different department of a company to advance in their career. For example, some machine operators become construction equipment workers or warehouse operators move into sales.

Essential Career Information

2017 Median Pay $34,830
2016, Number of Jobs 682,000
Employment Growth Forecast, 2016-2026 6%
Entry-Level Education Requirements High School Diploma or Equivalent
2017, Wage of the Highest 10% $54,840
2017, Wage of the Lowest 10% $24,130

* Salary, number of jobs and employment growth provided by
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