Every industry is full of ways for people, with differing skillsets, to make an impact within it. To succeed, businesses need all kinds of people to fill all kinds of roles. Few industries, however, offer as diverse a job pool as the transportation and logistics space.
Whether you have completed high school, finished college, obtained a master's degree, or not, it’s safe to say there’s a role in transportation for you. It’s not uncommon for job seekers to skip right over the transportation world during their hunt, categorizing it as a place they wouldn’t fit in or an industry without a job for them.
I mean, if you’re not a truck driver, what can transportation really offer you?
This is the question answered in this article. Anderson Trucking Service (ATS) is a transportation and logistics company that has been in business since 1955. Today, our workforce is (roughly) split between truck drivers and corporate employees. The former keeps the world running, the latter supports them in doing so.
Every person working in this industry sees their efforts reflected on a global scale. This can make a job in this field really rewarding.
So, if you’re interested in starting a job in the transportation industry, let’s go over a few of your options.
Although the exact job titles listed below are the ones we use to define each role internally, the work these employees do is necessary at transportation companies across the board; you will find very similar ones at every business.
It might turn out that this industry would be a great fit for you. And, if it is, you won’t want to miss the fulfillment that a job here can bring.
Below, you’ll find eight common entry-level transportation-industry jobs, each complete with a job description, pay estimates and a breakdown of their related career path.
8 Common Transportation Industry Jobs Worth Exploring
- Sales Representative
- Driver Safety Counselor
- Key Account Representative
- Tractor Technician
- Driver Manager
- Regional Carrier Representative
- Administrative Services Specialist
- Human Resources Coordinator
Sales Representative ($43,000-$150,000+)
Sales representatives are a crucial cog in the machine of U.S. freight movement. Though “national sales representative” is the exact title used to describe the salespeople working at ATS Logistics (the freight brokerage division at ATS), the duties of sales representatives are fairly consistent across companies.
First and foremost, these employees are responsible for increasing their company’s customer base. This is typically done through prospecting (calling, emailing and connecting with others), lead nurturing and deal securement by offering their company’s services as the shipping solution for businesses.
Typically, sales representatives have performance goals and sales baselines to meet each period (month, quarter, etc.).
The duties of a sales representative may include any of the following:
- Conduct strategic planning efforts to achieve sales results and department goals
- Prospect, plan and qualify leads
- Sell transportation and logistics services to qualified leads
- Onboard new customers, ensuring a seamless customer experience
- Work with other members of the sales team to cultivate and maintain an effective sales program.
- Maintain relationships with current customers
Education and experience requirements for sales representatives
The education and experience requirements for people interested in a sales role are fairly minimal. Usually, no transportation industry experience will be needed to get a foot in the door. Instead, strong interpersonal, presentation, communication (written, verbal) and time-management skills are more important.
Some technical skills like Microsoft Office proficiency and knowledge of social media are a plus.
Other preferred skills may include:
- Some kind of higher education (two/four-year degree)
- One or more year(s) of B2B sales experience
- Understanding of transportation-industry terminology/concepts
Sales representative career path
Like many other sales jobs, your career path as a sales representative will be dictated by both tenure and goal attainment. Most transportation organizations have a set progression path for individuals in these roles. With each step, sales representatives see their take-home pay increase.
Eventually, it’s possible for sales representatives to be promoted to sales management (where they oversee a team of salespeople) and ultimately, on to director-level roles.
Driver Safety Counselor ($42,000-$60,000+)
Driver safety counselors fill an important role at every trucking company. These individuals are in charge of coaching, mentoring and educating new-hire truck drivers during the initial months of their employment — throughout a training program.
Among other things, safety counselors review driver performance and safe driving behaviors as well as accident and hours of service data to offer accurate feedback to every driver.
The main duty of this position is to reduce accident frequency/severity and eliminate all preventable DOT accidents by helping drivers improve their safety procedures, practices and knowledge.
The duties of a driver safety counselor may include any of the following:
- Manage and improve their company’s driver safety program
- Develop programming for new-driver safety training/orientation
- Review driver performance across all safety, compliance and regulatory requirements
- Provide feedback to drivers
- Present findings, explanations and facts regarding driver behavior trends and history to relevant individuals/groups
Education and experience requirements for driver safety counselors
The experience and education trucking companies require of the people in this role changes between companies. Typically, candidates will need to have a high school diploma at a minimum.
Experience safely operating a semi-truck will likely be required — as will a commercial driver’s license.
Should you apply to one of these positions, expect to be questioned about your ability to comfortably speak in front of groups and over the phone, to stay organized and gather information to create training material/present information, to analyze situations and come to reasonable solutions and to deal with stressful situations.
Each of these are important skills for any driver safety counselor.
Other preferred skills, trucking companies look for in these candidates include:
- Secondary education in teaching or business
- Ability to speak a secondary language (namely Spanish)
- Willing and able to travel
- Prior experience as a safety counselor
Driver safety counselor career path
As driver safety counselors, individuals learn valuable skills that prepare them to excel in a number of other safety roles. The career path for these people will change based on the size of the organization. However, expect more tenured, experienced counselors to rise to senior positions within their organization over time.
Key Account Representative ($38,000-$55,000+)
At many transportation companies, key account representatives work alongside national sales representatives, focusing on proving outstanding customer service. Specifically, key account representatives contact both new and existing customers with the goal of nurturing the business each account yields. Creating systems for long-term customer retention and count penetration are the primary goals of these individuals.
The duties of a key account representative may include any of the following:
- Effectively respond to incoming inquiries from customers by utilizing knowledge of their company’s service offerings and capabilities
- Manage the day-to-day needs of existing customers
- Manage and grow existing business, while identifying and closing new business using direct mail, networking and phone call selling
- Communicate and negotiate with customers
- Proactively communicate internally with other salespeople
Education and experience requirements for key account representatives
Similar to the requirements for national sales roles, the education and experience expected for key account representatives are minimal. Namely, interested parties should have strong computer skills (the ability to effectively use Microsoft Office and social media), a drive to build relationships and a book of business, excellent time management/organizational skills and top-notch interpersonal abilities.
Being a self-starter — and demonstrating as much during interviews — is also important.
Other preferred skills may include:
- Some kind of higher education (two/four-year degree)
- One or more year(s) of B2B sales experience
- Understanding of transportation-industry terminology/concepts
- An understanding of marketing, sales and customer service
Key account representative career path
Every company has a different career path for key account professionals. However, the skills that make someone successful in this job lend themselves to a number of other transportation-industry roles. Many key account representatives see doors open into sales-team management after a while, making this a great choice for people interested in a career in management.
Tractor Technician ($40,000+)
Every trucking company needs mechanics and technicians. These people keep a carrier’s fleet moving and equipment in top-notch condition. As such, if you are interested in one of these roles expect to be responsible for the inspection, service, repair and maintenance of a trucking company’s semi tractors.
The duties of a tractor technician may include any of the following:
- Perform routine inspections, maintenance and repair on diesel tractors using OEM guidelines
- Perform all necessary/scheduled preventative maintenance services on tractors
- Complete Department of Transportation (DOT) inspections on outbound trucks to verify repairs have been made
- Perform brake and wheel-end services, cab repairs, etc.
- Perform overhead adjustments
- Diagnose and replace exterior engine parts
- Perform basic diagnostics using OEM equipment
- Install and work with all types of in-cab electronic equipment
Education and experience requirements for tractor technicians
Tractor technicians will need to comprehensively understand semi tractors and how to perform each of the duties listed above and more. For this reason, the experience/certifications required in a qualified candidate are quite long.
Prime among the education and experience required of a tractor technician are:
- Two-year associates degree in medium/heavy truck diesel program and/or equivalent experience in related field (automotive, medium/heavy equipment, trailer repair)
- Experience in cutting/welding
- Must have an understanding of DOT regulations and out of service parameters
- Must have brake certification and knowledge of brake systems
- Must have OSHA tire training
- Must have forklift certification
- Must be DOT certified
Tractor technician career path
Tractor technicians have a lot of opportunities to grow beyond this role. You see, trucking companies — particularly the largest ones — make huge investments in their fleet. For this reason, there is always room to rise through the ranks by starting in this entry-level position. Potential next-level opportunities include fleet maintenance advisory roles, shop manager positions and increases in their rank — rising from tractor technician 1 to tractor technician 2 and so on. . .
Driver Manager ($55,000-$100,000+)
Driver managers are responsible for overseeing a portion of a trucking company’s fleet. These individuals are charged with ensuring the high quality and profitable operation of the drivers they manage while developing relationships with each of them. Driver managers work each day to make sure that every truck driver they’re assigned receives proper safety and driver training. Driver retention is another key driver manager focus.
The duties of a driver manager may include any of the following:
- Driver management
- Develop effective working relationships with drivers
- Train, develop and manage a fleet of drivers
- Conduct root-cause analysis when a failure occurs and come up with solutions to avoid issues in the future
- Effectively address driver-performance issues when they occur
- Build a high-performing team
- Create a positive driver experience
- Set performance expectations for drivers
- Provide high-level of service to assigned drivers in the team
- Balance each driver’s personal and professional needs
- Service management
- Proactively communicate with all internal departments as needed
- Take actions to improve the service levels drivers provide to customers
- Assume a level of ownership over each shipment
- Safety management
- Educate fleet on all safety practices and procedures
- Set expectations for driver safety
- Proactively identify safety hazards and issues within fleet
- Lead safety assessments
Education and experience requirements for driver managers
To do this job well, driver managers typically need to have a high level of skill in time management, customer service, interpersonal communication and problem solving. Most trucking companies require their driver managers to have some level of higher education (i.e. two/four year degree) and/or some related experience.
Here are a few of the most prominent skills driver manager skills:
- The ability to develop strong relationships to manage, plan and prioritize a workload
- The ability to read a map
- Strong customer service, time management and math skills
- Strong analytical skills
- Good problem-solving skills
Some additional skills/experiences that aren’t required but may set you apart from other driver manager candidates:
- Transportation industry experience
- Management experience
- Knowledge of DOT laws, rules and regulations
Driver manager career path
As driver managers get more comfortable in their duties, they can become highly valuable pieces of their company. This can open doors for other opportunities internally, allowing driver managers to move into operations roles. Beyond this, after a while, driver managers can shift their focus to other endeavors, transferring divisions or rising to director-level jobs.
Regional Carrier Representative ($40,000-$80,000+)
Regional carrier representatives are responsible for enhancing and increasing the carrier base of a traditional freight brokerage. This is done by implementing marketing and customer service principles to attract and retain qualified trucking companies to build a carrier base. Each representative is assigned a region to manage.
The duties of a regional carrier representative include:
- Contact existing, inactive and/or potential trucking companies within the assigned region
- Negotiate freight rates with the carriers in their region
- Learn to sell the freight brokerage’s services
- Dispatch qualified carrier to available freight, providing all pertinent information, responding to questions, etc.
- Manage a book of business.
- Act as a liaison between carriers and internal stakeholders and shippers
Education and experience requirements for regional carrier representatives
More than anything else, carrier representatives need to have great problem-solving and customer service skills. For this reason, higher education is not as important to qualify for one of these positions. Instead, experience in customer service, an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to collaborate with all kinds of people are more crucial.
Other required skills:
- Proficiency in Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, and Outlook)
- Strong problem-solving skills
- Strong time-management abilities
- Excellent communication skills (written and verbal)
- Higher education
- Prior history in transportation
- Prior history in marketing or sales
Regional carrier representative career path
Transportation brokerages really value their regional carrier representatives; without great carriers, you can’t offer brokerage service at a high level. As a result, many of the largest brokerages have clearly defined career paths for individuals in these positions. Over time, regional carrier representatives gain seniority, increasing their compensation and opening doors to management positions.
Administrative Services Specialist ($37,000+)
Administrative services specialists make an impact on transportation companies in a number of ways. Mainly, these individuals are responsible for data entry keyboarding, mailroom processing, phone reception/customer greeting and many general clerical services/supports. In many cases, administrative service specialists are responsible for making their company’s first impression when a prospect calls or a member of the public walks in the door, etc.
The duties of administrative service specialists may include:
- Accurately scan, index and quality check all company-related paperwork
- Enter alpha and numeric data in the company’s system(s)
- Serve as receptionist
- Proficiently answer incoming calls and handle/direct them appropriately
- Perform clerical functions
- Receive, sort and direct incoming and interoffice mail
- Process and distribute all department photo-copying requests
Education and experience requirements for administrative service specialists
Excellent telephone etiquette, the ability to deliver all types of administrative support and excellent communication skills are all vital to success in this role.
Where experience is concerned, prior administrative service experience sets candidates apart as does proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite and 1-2 years of data entry work.
Preferred experiences and education:
- High school and/or college degree in business, customer service or administrative support
- Experience working with multi-line telephone systems
- Experience doing 10-key data entry
- Demonstrated history multi-tasking
Administrative service specialist career path
Administrative service specialists, through their duties, develop a well-rounded understanding of their organization. And, even if this role isn’t your envisioned long-term plan, it’s a great place to start. As other opportunities open up internally, it’s common for the people in these roles to move into other parts of their organization.
Human Resources Coordinator ($40,000-$50,000+)
Human resources coordinators are responsible for helping maintain a trucking company’s human resources activities. This includes the employee services, employment records processes and supporting employee benefits. All activities human resources coordinators do must be in compliance with Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws, HIPAA, ERISA and other regulations.
The duties of human resources coordinators may include:
- Maintain electronic employee files
- Ensure employees complete all required documents
- Accurately enter data on personnel changes (new hires, transfers, wage changes, terminations, etc.)
- Coordinate with stakeholders for annual and/or special employee programs both internally and externally
- Promote and coordinate internal wellness programs
- Provide clerical and administrative support to the human resources department
Education and experience requirements for human resources coordinators
Usually, human resources coordinators are required to have some level of higher education, be it a two or four-year college degree. Alternatively, equivalent experience and an aptitude for the desired skills — writing, verbal communication, data entry/reporting — are also acceptable.
Preferred experiences and education for human resources coordinators:
- 1-2 years of human resources experience
- Knowledge of HR administration, compliance, theories and discipline
- Experience in benefits administration
- Experience coordinating and organizing employee services events
- Experience handling sensitive material and maintaining confidentiality.
Human resources coordinator career path
Human resources coordinators have the opportunity to connect with all crevices of their company and develop valuable skills that serve them well in all roles. As such, there are always opportunities for the people in these roles to expand their duties and develop employee engagement programs. Beyond this, many human resources coordinators have the opportunity to shift roles over time and even to manage other human resources specialists.
But is a Job in the Transportation Industry Right For You?
Now you have a better understanding of the kinds of jobs, and career paths, available to people in the transportation industry. Transportation has far more opportunities than many people ever imagine.
Honestly, this list doesn’t even scratch the surface.
At the right company, you’ll find job openings across departments: accounting, marketing, sales, safety, driver recruiting, corporate recruiting, etc.
That said, none of this matters if the transportation industry isn’t the right career home for you.
You see, a job in this industry — like a job in any industry — comes with a set of advantages and disadvantages. Reading this article to flush out whether transportation and logistics would be a good next step for your career.
Finally, if you would like to learn more about the job openings here at ATS, check out our open positions page here.