From Service to Success: How Your Veteran Background Fits The Transportation Industry


The transportation industry, like the military, is a complex and nuanced field requiring problem-solving, initiative and effective communication from its members. 

While many don’t realize it, veterans transitioning from military service have skills and abilities that are highly applicable in the transportation sector. Members of the military learn leadership skills, resilience and teamwork while working hard to defend our nation. This experience is valuable across industries — transportation is only one of them. 

Anderson Trucking Service (ATS), was founded in 1955 by a veteran who saw a need for logistical efficiency among businesses in his area. He then took the steps to provide it. The wherewithal to take this initiative, and do the work to grow ATS into the company it is today, is a product of military service. 

As a company that employs many veterans, we understand how difficult it can be to find your place in the civilian world following discharge. It’s not impossible, though. Your experience is very relevant, even if it might not seem that way when you read job descriptions. 

In this article, we’ll explore how your veteran background and the skills developed through military service fit seamlessly within the transportation industry and how they can contribute to your professional success in this realm.

For simplicity (since there are so many ways you develop in the armed forces) this article focuses on six of the main skills you have right now and how they relate to a job in transportation. 

6 Military Skills That Translate Well to The Transportation Industry

The armed forces create a fertile ground for personal and professional development. Dedicated military personnel learn hard skills like how to operate machinery, technologies and firearms, life in the service also leaves you with highly-transferable soft skills like. . . 

  1. Problem-solving
  2. Initiative
  3. Communication
  4. Adaptation
  5. Resilience
  6. Logistics

1. Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-solving lies at the heart of both military operations and the transportation industry. In the military, people are trained to assess situations, identify challenges and develop practical solutions. This problem-solving mindset directly translates to the transportation sector, where unforeseen obstacles, logistical complexities and time-sensitive decisions are a daily occurrence. 

Military veterans bring a unique perspective and expertise in resolving challenges efficiently and effectively. Their ability to adapt, think critically and make sound decisions under pressure makes them an invaluable asset in the dynamic world of transportation where there’s seldom time to waste.

2. Initiative

Initiative is a fundamental trait fostered in military service personnel. Initiative also is highly sought after in the transportation industry. Military veterans are trained to take ownership of tasks, demonstrate self-motivation and proactively seek opportunities to contribute to the whole. 

This proactive mindset aligns perfectly with the demands of the transportation sector, where employees need to exhibit initiative to ensure the smooth flow of operations, identify process improvements and enhance overall efficiency. Examples of someone displaying initiative in the transportation world include:

  • A salesperson taking the initiative to pursue a high-value client, drawing on relevant support departments and refining their tactics for the situation.
  • An operations employee going out of his/her way to find a new way to get the job done, particularly when they’re faced with a challenge (truck falling through, breakdown, miscommunication, etc.).
  •  A trailer technician taking extra training, striving to learn every way to effectively service the trailers he/she works on. 

Veterans possess a strong work ethic and a drive to excel, making them a natural fit for the fast-paced transportation industry that rewards those who take initiative.

Related: 8 Entry-Level Transportation Industry Jobs (That Aren't Truck Driving) + Their Career Paths

3. Communication

Effective communication is paramount in military operations, practices and training. Did you know communication is at the heart of everything we do in the transportation industry as well?

The military always emphasizes clear and concise communication to ensure mission success and promote teamwork. Serious mishaps, including loss of life, can occur in the armed forces when communication falters. Similarly, though the stakes aren’t quite as high in the transportation sector, effective communication is essential for coordinating logistics, managing teams and building strong relationships with customers, vendors and stakeholders. 

Military veterans bring well-honed communication skills to the table, allowing them to do well in our industry — especially when the stakes are high. A veteran’s ability to navigate diverse work environments, overcome language barriers (where necessary) and adapt to various communication platforms makes them valuable assets in the transportation industry where a lapse in communication can have devastating effects on the outcome of a shipment, project or task.


4. Adaptation

The ability to assess a situation and take proactive measures to adapt to it is heavily cultivated in military personnel. In many cases, it’s impossible to predict what you’ll encounter at any given time during your service. For this reason, military professionals know the importance of adapting and how to do it successfully. 

Adaptation is a highly coveted skill in the transportation realm (things are always changing and competition is high). You’ll see this most prominently in a company’s (and its employee’s) ability to adapt to technological advancements. 

The transportation sector consistently embraces technological advancements to enhance operations and improve outcomes for all parties. Military veterans often possess a unique ability to adapt to these technologies quickly. 

Their experience with advanced equipment and systems during military service provides a solid foundation to learn and utilize cutting-edge technologies in the transportation industry. Whether it's customer management software, GPS tracking systems, route-optimization tools or maintenance technologies, veterans can leverage their proficiency to streamline processes and increase their job proficiency.

Though technology is a good example of why adaptability is so important in the transportation industry, this shows up in a lot of other ways too. 

5. Resilience

Nothing tests you harder and is more challenging than serving our country. In the service, people learn to overcome challenges of all shapes and sizes to ensure the success of the whole and the safety of our nation. Throughout the time they’re enlisted, military professionals develop a keen ability to think critically even in the most drastic circumstances to come up with unique solutions.

This ability translates well to the transportation sector where challenge is a constant companion. Those who simply ignore the challenges in their job, don’t last long in this industry since critical thinking, problem-solving and dependability are rewarded. As a veteran, your experience gives you a distinct advantage in this business, regardless of the job you do.

6. Logistics 

This final point is relatively intuitive; of course, understanding logistics is important for working in transportation. That said, not everyone who works here had these skills going in. In fact, most didn’t. 

This is where a veteran’s background really shines.

In the military, soldiers are trained to plan, coordinate and execute complex logistical operations with precision and efficiency. This expertise in managing and optimizing the movement of personnel, equipment and supplies directly aligns with the core functions of the transportation sector

Many military veterans bring with them a deep understanding of supply chain management, route planning and resource allocation. Their ability to navigate logistical challenges, optimize transportation routes and ensure timely delivery of goods makes them invaluable assets in the transportation industry. 

Furthermore, as previously stated, their experience in handling high-pressure situations and adapting to rapidly changing circumstances equips them with the resilience and adaptability required to thrive in this fast-paced industry.


Should You Choose to Work in Transportation as a Veteran?

Military veterans possess valuable skills. That said, these individuals can often find it challenging when transitioning from military service. Recognizing these challenges, many initiatives and programs have been developed to facilitate this transition and support veterans in their career paths. 

Here are some tools to check out if you’re a veteran wondering where your skills and experience can be applied in the working world:

Collaborations between the military and transportation sectors can maximize the potential of military talent and bridge any gaps in knowledge or experience. Check out the Department of Transportation’s Veterans Transportation Career Center for more transportation-specific information. 

Military skills and abilities are a natural fit within the transportation industry due to their shared traits of complexity, problem-solving, initiative and communication.

Veterans bring a wealth of experience, discipline and adaptability to transportation companies, contributing heavily to their success. As the transportation industry continues to evolve, the importance of these skills will only continue to be recognized and embraced.

Across the transportation industry, numerous success stories showcase the remarkable achievements of military veterans. From truck drivers, salespeople and diesel mechanics to operations managers and permit coordinators, veterans have thrived in various roles within transportation companies and you could too. 

ATS is always looking to hire veterans and fully appreciates the unique skills and abilities these individuals possess. If you’re interested in learning more about what life is like at ATS, check out our Veteran-Friendly Employer page for more information on what to expect. Also, look for an open position in your area and don’t hesitate to apply. We’re excited to help you succeed in the working world just as you did in the military. 

Tags: Career Resources

Dan Ascher

Written by Dan Ascher

Dan joined ATS' talent acquisition team as a talent acquisition specialist in early 2016. Dan is passionate about connecting people with the jobs that suit them best, a quality that made him highly effective in this role. In April 2022, Dan became ATS' lead talent acquisition specialist where he continues to help job seekers find their spot within ATS.

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