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Transportation Manager Career Guide

Transportation Manager

In today’s complex, global business environment, transportation managers play a key role in the efficient production, transportation and storage of consumer goods. In a variety of industries, they are responsible for optimizing transportation performance and managing expenses in fulfillment of organizational goals.

Becoming a transportation manager takes the right combination of educational background, work experience and personal attributes, which are outlined in this career guide. You’ll also discover typical job duties, where to find transportation manager jobs, and the potential salary for this position.

National data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2011 indicates that transportation manager job growth is projected to decline a bit through 2018. However, manufacturers and retailers are increasingly turning to distribution outsourcing and just-in-time fulfillment to improve efficiency. Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research regarding actual job growth rates, which vary according to location, education and experience.

What is a Transportation Manager?

Transportation management is a flexible, analytical and creative position. Transportation managers are typically required to lead operations for organizations that provide transportation services, or to oversee strategic transportation initiatives for retail or wholesale fulfillment. These professionals work closely with supply chain, sales, customer service and technology departments, as well as with external vendors.

Why Transportation Managers Matter

Transportation is an area of business that requires highly skilled managers, especially as operations become more complex and efficiency remains the guiding principle of countless organizations. Transportation managers are responsible for scheduling, training, supporting and developing staff to maximize productivity while minimizing risk, expenses and errors. From the clothes we wear to the appliances we use to keep them clean, all of the products we use every day are made available through the efforts of transportation managers.

Transportation managers typically oversee all aspects of transportation, from safety training to regulatory compliance. Typical job duties include scheduling and tracking deliveries, assigning work to staff, and analyzing the effectiveness of existing operations. They may develop and implement more efficient procedures to eliminate waste and errors, thereby improving productivity and profits.

Transportation managers will often resolve disputes, solve transportation problems and negotiate with suppliers. Their overarching responsibility is to support customer experiences through efficient product transportation and delivery.

Where Can I Find Jobs as a Transportation Manager?

Transportation manager jobs can typically be found in industries such as retailing, shipping, logistics, food service, transportation and wholesaling. Essential job skills can often be utilized throughout the various industries that employ transportation managers.

Education Preparation for Jobs in Transportation Management

When competing for transportation management positions, it’s important to know what educational background employers are looking for. In general, most transportation manager jobs will require a college degree.  

  • Associate’s Degree: You may qualify for an entry-level job in transportation with a two-year associate’s degree and related work experience. Advancing to a management position will usually require at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • Bachelor’s Degree: Most transportation management job requirements include a bachelor’s degree, along with some knowledge of the transportation industry. Employers may prefer to hire candidates with supply chain, fulfillment center operation or contract negotiation experience.
  • Master’s Degree: Some advanced transportation management positions may require an advanced degree, such as a Master of Science in Supply Chain Management or a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). These advanced degrees typically take an additional one to two years beyond the bachelor’s level.

Training, Other Qualifications and Advancement

In addition to a minimum education level, candidates for transportation management jobs will typically need to demonstrate essential business skills, such as planning, strategizing, and written and verbal communication. Potential employers will also look for attributes such as:

  • A commitment to continuous improvement.
  • Strong negotiation and management skills.
  • An analytical, process-centered work style.
  • Effective problem-solving skills.
  • A high level of attention to detail.

Advancing in this field may come after gaining additional work experience or obtaining an advanced degree. Some employers may offer tuition assistance that could enable you to earn an advanced degree.

Potential Salary for Transportation Manager Jobs

According to a 2010 national survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor, the median annual salary for transportation managers was $80,210. Because salary potential may vary depending on location, education and experience, prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research to determine actual earning potential.

Is a Transportation Manager Career on Your Horizon?

If you’re adept at managing both information and people, you could fit well into a fast-paced and challenging career as a transportation manager. You’ll be well prepared to break into this field when you use this career guide to help you plan your path to success. 

* Prospective students are encouraged to conduct independent research regarding actual job growth rates, which vary according to location, education and experience.