The best paying jobs in transportation can earn you huge annual wages and incredible retirement benefits. The transportation industry includes air travel, water, and roads. In other words, there is a wide range of career opportunities in transportation.
To excel in the transportation sector you need to be willing to work irregular hours and be systematic when following rules and guidelines to fulfill job duties and meet industry standards. If you are wondering what transportation jobs pay, career outlook, and how to get jobs in this career field, read on.
What Do Transportation Jobs Pay?
Transportation jobs pay a median annual salary of $36,860, but this number can fluctuate depending on your position. The company, city, and expertise will determine your annual salary in the transportation industry. For instance, airline pilots earn more than $100,000 annually.
Transportation Job Outlook
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the transportation industry is estimated to grow nine percent between 2020 and 2030, with an expected 1.1 million jobs available in the industry. In nearly all sections, various forms of transportation will continue to transport people and goods. For instance, the economy heavily depends on truck drivers moving large cargo through interstate and intercity routes.
Transportation Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction in the transportation industry will depend on benefits, salary, and working conditions. For instance, in the public transportation sector, factors that influence job satisfaction are benefits, condition of the vehicles, and compensation. All these factors influence job performance. Moreover, if you are a private commercial driver, you control those variables.
Transportation Salaries: Lucrative Transportation Careers
|Airline and Commercial Pilots
|Air Traffic Controllers
|Bachelor’s degree or a degree from FAA Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative
|High school diploma or equivalent
|Water Transportation Workers
|US Coast Guard-approved training programs
|High school diploma or equivalent
|Heavy and Tractor-trailer Truck Drivers
|Postsecondary nondegree award
|Material Moving Machine Operators
|Passenger Vehicle Drivers
|Delivery Truck Drivers
|High school diploma or equivalent
|Hand Laborers and Material Movers
Best-Paying Jobs in Transportation: In Detail
Airline and Commercial Pilots
Average Salary: $134,630
The primary responsibility of the airline and commercial pilots is to operate helicopters, airplanes, and other aircraft. Airline pilots examine aircraft conditions before embarking a trip. Pilots often need a bachelor’s degree in engineering or transportation and you need to pass a series of specialized training courses from the Federal Aviation Administration to become a certified pilot.
Air Traffic Controllers
Average Salary: $129,750
Air traffic controllers have one of the highest-paying jobs in the industry. They monitor and direct aircraft on the ground and in the air, as well as update pilots on weather conditions. They use devices like radars and computers.
Average Salary: $64,210
Locomotive drivers’ major duty is to transport passengers or freight from one location to another. Moreover, locomotive drivers are trained to fix minor faults and carry out regular maintenance to ensure optimal workings of the locomotive. Locomotive drivers work hand in hand with conductors, and signal operators to ensure that the train is fully functional.
Water Transportation Workers
Average Salary: $59,250
Positions include sailors, ship operators, ship engineers, and captains. The responsibility of sailors, also called deckhands, includes maintaining the vessel and deck equipment. Sailors ensure that there are no obstructions in their ship’s path and load and unload the vessel. Captains control the vessel’s operations and ship engineers conduct maintenance and repairs.
Average Salary: $59,050
Flight attendants give preflight briefings and safety instructions to passengers onboard an aircraft. They serve food and drinks and cater to the passengers in other ways. The primary duties of flight attendants are the safety and well-being of travelers.
Heavy and Tractor-trailer Truck Drivers
Average Salary: $47,130
Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers move heavy materials in vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds. They may work around a local region, urban area, or intercity. These truck driver jobs may require you to cross through several states to deliver goods. To become a heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver, you need a postsecondary non-degree award and job training.
Delivery Truck Drivers
Average Salary: $34,340
Delivery truck drivers primarily transport cargo or goods to various locations within the local region or urban area. Most often, the trucks driven by professional truck drivers weigh more than 26,001 pounds. Delivery truck drivers working in large firms often have a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule and often work in shifts. Among other tests and certifications, you need a high school diploma to become a delivery truck driver.
Hand Laborers and Material Movers
Average Salary: $30,010
Hand laborers and material movers pack or wrap products by hand or use mini tractors to load goods onto trucks of aircraft. Hand laborers and material movers also clean vehicles and keep a record of the materials they move. Hand laborers and material movers don’t need any educational requirements to land this job and most often they learn on the job.
Material Moving Machine Operators
Average Salary: $37,450
Material moving machine operators use levers, wheels, and other equipment to move materials or cargo around. They work at construction sites, airports, and big cargo companies and often work alongside hand laborers. Sometimes, material moving operators also make minor repairs on their equipment.
Passenger Vehicle Drivers
Average Salary: $34,670
As their name implies, passenger vehicle drivers transport people to various locations. These movements of people can be intercity, interstate, or across the border. Their responsibilities include checking the tires, oil, and lights of the vehicle to ensure they are in good condition. School buses, chauffeurs, and taxi drivers all fall into this category.
Resources to Find the Best-Paying Jobs in Transportation
- Job Boards. One of the best places to start your job search for a transportation job is a job board. Job boards have good descriptions of the job you’re applying for. Since positions on job boards receive many applications, you need to learn how to write an effective cover letter and resume to land the job.
- The US Department of Transportation Website. The US Department of Transportation usually has job openings. Surprisingly, it is one of the most underrated places to find a transportation job. The job opportunities available in the US Department of Transportation accommodate both degree and non-degree applicants.
- Online Platforms. You can check out the websites of the best transportation companies for opportunities. Usually, if the company has a job opening, it will be posted on its website. Always check the job requirements before you send in your application.
- Social Media. Companies also advertise job openings on social media. You can follow a few of the transportation companies you would want to work for on their social media. Most likely, if a job opening is available, you will see it on their social media profiles.
- Job Agency. Top transportation companies often prefer to use job recruitment agencies to fill in various positions like bus drivers, diesel engine specialists, and flight engineers. Sometimes job recruitment agencies charge a fee when you are hired through their referrals.
Is Transportation a Good Career Path?
A transportation career offers many career prospects with high expected income and potential job growth rates. What’s more, transportation is vital to every economy and everyday life. Without transportation, passengers and goods cannot arrive at their destinations. While you may need to work odd hours, the benefits of becoming a transportation professional far outweigh the challenges.
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To get top-paying jobs at the best transportation companies, you need to stand out with more than just a driver’s license and a love for driving or flying. Upgrade your resume by attending courses that boost your knowledge in the area of transportation you are interested in.
Best Paying Jobs in Transportation FAQ
Some high-paying jobs in the transportation industry are airline and commercial pilots, truck drivers, air traffic controllers, and flight attendants.
The educational requirements to become a truck driver are a postsecondary training program and a series of training courses to get certified in the trucking industry. Truck drivers need to attend professional driving schools to perfect their driving on difficult routes because of the size of their vehicles.
A few of the best transportation companies to work for are UPS, DHL, FedEx, Swift Transportation, Amazon, Delta, American Airlines, and United Airlines.
On average, truck drivers earn an hourly wage of $22.66, according to BLS. Some truck drivers earn more, depending on their experience and the trucking companies they work for. A trucking career is one of the high-paying jobs in the transportation sector.
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