Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Career Cluster Overview
The jobs in this cluster deal with the safe and efficient movement of people and goods from one place to another. This can entail delivering packages via a shipment service such as UPS or FedEx, planning the distribution of a business’s products from its warehouses to stores and customers, or driving a taxi around busy city streets, ensuring that passengers safely arrive at their destinations.
The transportation industry includes air, rail, road, and water travel, and its core business are transporting passengers and moving freight. Distribution refers primarily to the management of warehouse and other large storage centers, and the movement of items in and out of the facility. Logistics refers to the planning aspect of this line of work, that is, creating and revising the schedules and plans that ensure the timely delivery of passengers and goods to their destinations.
Each branch of this career cluster employs workers in a variety of positions, from managers who coordinate shipping schedules to freight handlers to customer service representatives to conductors and even safety inspectors. Many workers are needed just to operate and maintain the various means of transportation, such as drivers, pilots, mechanics, and engineers.
Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Career Pathways
There are seven career pathways in this cluster: facility and mobile equipment maintenance; health, safety, and environmental management; logistics planning and management services; sales and service; transportation operations; transportation systems; and warehousing and distribution center operations.
Facility and Mobile Equipment Maintenance Career Path
People who work in this pathway clean, service, and repair the transportation vehicles and machinery, as well as the garages, warehouses, and other buildings that house them. Examples of careers in this pathway include automobile mechanics, electricians, industrial machinery mechanics, and tire technicians.
Health , Safety, and Environmental Management Career Path
Transportation and distribution work has a serious impact on the environment. Workers in this pathway come up with ways to protect the environment from things such as automotive pollution and the transportation and disposal of hazardous waste. They also ensure the safety of the vehicles and working environments used in this line of work. Examples of jobs in this pathway include aviation safety inspectors, environmental engineers, and health and regulatory inspectors.
Logistics Planning and Management Services Career Path
This pathway involves the planning and management of how materials and people will move from one place to another in an efficient and timely manner. Whether they are planning a train schedule or shipping routes for a national trucking line, workers in this field must have a knack for details and seeing the big picture. Examples of careers in this pathway include business managers and industrial traffic managers.
Sales and Service Career Path
People in this pathway are involved in the advertising and marketing, and sales of transportation services to businesses and individual customers. Work in this area requires thorough knowledge of the competition and of the customers’ needs. Jobs in sales and service include customer service representatives, marketing researchers, reservation and ticket agents, and sales representatives.
Transportation Operations Career Path
These are the people who keep things moving— literally. Workers in this area operate the trucks, buses, planes, and trains that move people and goods from one place to another. They are also the ones who make sure that the work is occurring according to schedule. Transportation operations workers include locomotive engineers, pilots, taxi drivers, and truck drivers.
Transportation Systems Career Path
Workers in this area design and oversee all aspects of public transportation systems, including road, rail, air, and sea travel. These workers are usually employees of state or federal government. Examples of jobs in this area include city planners, civil engineers and civil engineering technicians, and traffic engineers.
Warehousing and Distribution Center Operations Career Path
Jobs in this pathway deal with the management of warehouses and other centers that ship, receive, and store goods. Besides the scheduling of shipments and deliveries, people in this pathway monitor inventories as goods go into and out of the warehouse. Examples of careers in this field include business managers, industrial traffic managers, and packaging engineers.
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Exploring Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Careers
If you enjoy working under strict deadlines, as part of a team, and in areas that require technical and mechanical skill, then a job in this cluster might be a good choice for you. Transportation, distribution, and logistics offer job opportunities to people with a wide variety of educational experience. Many transit systems and materials moving companies offer jobs to people with a high school degree after completion of a formal training program. Jobs in logistics and planning and environmental management may require a bachelor’s degree in engineering, business, or another related area. Many jobs in this field also require state or federal licenses that must be renewed on a regular basis. Although you may not be able to gain hands-on experience in this field without a driver’s license or a high school diploma, there are many great Web sites that contain information on the field. Two online magazines—Overdrive (http://www.etrucker.com) and Land Line (http://www.landlinemag.com)—provide information on the latest topics in trucking and a list of frequently asked questions about the field. The U.S. Department of Education offers a variety of internship and entry-level job programs for college graduates interested in pursuing careers in transportation (http://www.dot.gov/careers). Check with your school or public librarian to find more information on the areas of the field that interest you.
Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics Careers Outlook
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the transportation industry will grow at an average rate over the next 10 years. New jobs will become available as people retire from the field and as the demand for consumer goods across the country continues to rise. The air transportation industry is expected to grow a bit slower than the average for all other industries, but this may pick up as people continue to use commercial airlines for business and personal travel. Job opportunities will be best for those people with sufficient education and technical knowledge, especially in the area of information technology.
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