Accelerate Your Career: Opportunities in Transportation and Logistics
There is a truckload – or a boatload – or a carload – or a cargo – of opportunity for veterans in the transportation and logistics industries. With the United States economy humming along, there are more trucks on the highways, more trains on the track, more ships and boats on the waterways, and more planes and helicopters in the air. All of that means, of course, more jobs. And, in many areas, the current workforce is nearing retirement. There will be a fair-sized exodus from the rail industry over the next decade, for example. Many truck drivers are also reaching retirement age.
In this industry, businesses contract with trucking and warehousing companies to pick up, transport, store, and deliver a variety of goods. The industry includes general freight trucking, specialized freight trucking, and warehousing and storage.
Technology is changing how the industry is working. Truckers can communicate with companies in real time. Drivers receive point-of-sale data to ensure that their customers keep their inventories up. This information also helps truckers use the space in their trucks very efficiently. And customers can track and trace their shipments, receive shipment-delay alerts, and receive invoices electronically.
Although the trucking industry lost 150,000 jobs when the 2008 recession hit, the demand for drivers has increased every year since then. The industry is looking to fill 200,000 jobs yearly and 1 million positions by 2025.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a part of the United States Department of Labor, expects employment in heavy and tractor-trailer truck driving occupations to increase 5.5 percent from 2014 to 2024, a factor that gets this occupation group listed among those with the most job growth. As the economy grows, the demand for goods will increase, and more truck drivers will be needed to keep supply chains moving. The BLS predicts there will be nearly 100,000 job openings in this occupation between 2014 and 2024. The medial annual wage for this occupation is $40,260, according to the BLS.
Many people leave the profession because of the lengthy periods away from home and the long hours of driving, so there are always openings. In addition, the industry needs new drivers each year to replace those who retire. Drivers tend to be older than the average American worker, with only 18 percent of today’s drivers 34 years old or younger. Nearly 54 percent are 45 or older. Another factor is the introduction of regulations that make it harder for some drivers to get the credentials they need to drive particular cargo. All of this should sound like opportunity to veteran job seekers.
Opportunities for diesel service technicians and mechanics also look good, especially for applicants who have formal post-secondary training. And growth in truck transportation and warehousing should lead to added employment in office and administrative support. Trucking companies will need more dispatchers, stock clerks, and shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks. Opportunities for people who have information technology skills should be excellent.
Business is picking up on the rails, too. The year 2015 was good, with companies gaining due to the bigger need for container transport.
The rail industry is expecting more business in intermodal freight, in large part because the use of electric-powered cranes has led to more efficient handling at the terminals. Freight railroads have made major investments in intermodal equipment, facilities, and infrastructure. Those investments include $29 billion spent in 2015, according to the Association of American Railroads. America’s railroads serve nearly every industrial, wholesale, retail, and resource-based sector of the economy, operating over a network of nearly 140,000 miles. Railroads account for nearly 40 percent of intercity freight volume – more than any other mode of transportation.
There are three types of railroads: freight, passenger, and urban transit (subway and light rail). Freight railroads transport billions of tons of goods to destinations within the United States and to ports to be shipped abroad. Passenger railroads deliver millions of passengers and long-distance commuters to destinations throughout the country. Subways and light-rail systems move passengers within metropolitan areas and their surrounding suburbs. All of these modes of rail transportation require employees to operate, oversee, and assist in rail operations – including workers in yards where railcars are inspected, repaired, coupled, and uncoupled.
The BLS expects employment in most rail-transportation occupations to decline 3 percent from 2014 through 2024. Although the demand for rail transportation will rise, increased productivity could stifle job growth. However, actual job openings will be higher due to an older work force that is nearing retirement age.
Salaries vary by job in the railroad industry. Salaries for conductors or yardmasters average $58,180, according to the BLS.
The movement of huge amounts of cargo and passengers over U.S. waters and the oceans depends on water-transportation workers known as merchant mariners. Those workers operate and maintain civilian-owned deep-sea merchant ships, tugboats, towboats, ferries, barges, offshore supply vessels, cruise ships, and other waterborne craft on the oceans, the Great Lakes, rivers, canals, and other waterways, as well as in harbors.
The BLS projects that employment in water transportation will grow by 9 percent over the 2014-2024 period, faster than average. Job growth will stem from increasing tourism and a rise in offshore oil and gas production. Employment will also grow in and around major port cities due to increasing international trade. The 2015 median pay was $55,000 annually.
The BLS anticipates that job opportunities will be excellent over the next decade due to the need to replace workers, particularly officers. High turnover, retirements, and growth in the level of trade occurring worldwide will create more jobs than there will be people interested in filling them.
Commercial airlines fly millions of people across the country for business and pleasure. Air transportation also represents the fastest way to move most types of cargo over long distances. There is a consistent demand for air- service careers because the air-transportation industry tends to be stable.
The BLS expects jobs for airline and commercial pilots to increase 5 percent between 2014 and 2024. Low-cost regional airlines and nonscheduled aviation services will provide the most job opportunities. Pilots seeking jobs at the major airlines will face strong competition.
Jobs for flight attendants will increase 2 percent during that time, according to the BLS. Also, college degrees are becoming expected of candidates for jobs as flight attendants.
The BLS expects opportunities for pilots and flight engineers to be the best among regional and low-cost carriers. College graduates and former military pilots can expect to have the best job prospects. Opportunities will continue to exist for pilots who work for air-cargo carriers because of the increase in global freight demand.
The outlook is also favorable for aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and service technicians, reflecting the likelihood of fewer entrants from the military and a large number of retirements. However, mechanics and technicians will face more competition for jobs with large airlines, because the high wages and travel benefits that these jobs offer generally attract more qualified applicants than there are openings.