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Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics

Careers in this cluster

Cluster definition

Would you enjoy working outdoors in all kinds of weather?
Do you have good eyesight and quick reflexes?
Can you estimate distances accurately?
Do you drive trucks or tractors to do work on a farm?
Would you like to learn to fly an airplane?
Do you repair your or your family's and friends' vehicles?
Do you like to read automotive or mechanical magazines?

If you answered yes to two or more of the questions above, you might be interested in considering a career in transportation, distribution, and logistics.

If you are interested in working in this cluster, you have three avenues. One is to move people and products by road, air, rail, or water. You would drive or pilot different means of transportation. The second is to repair and maintain the vehicles, trains, plains, and ships to keep people and products moving. The third option is to work behind the scenes to make sure the products and people get to the right place on time.


Facility and mobile equipment maintenance

Transportation relies on equipment. It must work properly when needed. In the Facility and Mobile Equipment Maintenance pathway, you would keep machinery running and fueled. You would also look for ways to operate equipment safely but for less money.

Health, safety, and environmental management

People in the Health, Safety, and Environmental Management pathway are concerned about safety and environmental issues, especially related to transportation. Workers research, plan, and carry out activities to make the environment cleaner and safer.

Logistics planning and management services

To get products to a location, a company may have to use different types of transportation. For example, to get a product from China to your home town, a company might use ships, trains, and trucks. This is a complex process. In the Logistics Planning and Management Services pathway, you would make sure products arrive when and where they should at the lowest cost.

Sales and service

Workers in the Sales and Service pathway sell transportation services for people and freight.

Transportation operations

In the Transportation Operations pathway, you would drive trucks or pilot trains, planes, or ships that carry goods and people around the country or world. Or you would provide the support to make sure that cargo and passengers are safe and secure and arrive on time.

Transportation systems/infrastructure planning, management, and regulation

In the Transportation Systems/Infrastructure Planning, Management, and Regulation pathway, you would design and operate transportation systems. These systems include airports, railroads, and interstate highways. Or you might enforce laws and regulations to make travel safer. Many of the employees in this pathway work for government agencies.

Warehousing and distribution center operations

In the Warehousing and Distribution Center Operations pathway, employees work at parts, terminals, or warehouses. You would receive, sort, label, and load products. Your job is to make sure items from all over the world are delivered to the right place on time.

Level of education and earnings

The training and education requirements to work in the occupations included in the Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics cluster depend on the specialty and the type of work performed. Some occupations require on-the-job training; however, engineers require a bachelor's degree to be licensed.

The information provided in the table below, presents the level of education or training required to work in the occupations related to this cluster and the median wages for those occupations. Note that some occupations may have more than one required level because the type of work performed may vary in specific jobs.

Also, keep in mind that there are non-wage benefits that workers receive. For example, these types of benefits are health insurance, paid vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans. It is important to consider these benefits when you are looking at pay. Some benefits, such as health care, are worth a lot of money. You should carefully weigh a job that pays well but does not have many benefits against one that has good benefits and lower pay. Remember, how much an occupation pays is only one factor to consider when making career choices.

  National Annual
Median Wage
Washington Annual
Median Wage
Short-Term, On-the-Job Training (Less than One Month)
Couriers and Messengers$28,720 $35,670
Forklift Operators$34,750 $40,570
Freight Handlers$28,260 $32,630
Light Truck Drivers$32,810 $37,960
Packers and Packagers$24,580 $27,510
Parking Lot Attendants$23,870 $30,330
School Bus Drivers$32,420 $42,590
Service Station Attendants$24,200 $28,560
Tank Car, Truck, and Ship Loaders$38,220 $48,580
Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs$25,980 $32,710
Tire Repairers and Changers$27,890 $29,840
Transportation Agents$43,210 $49,550
Vehicle Cleaners$24,530 $28,810
Moderate-Term, On-the-Job Training (One to Twelve Months)
Ambulance Drivers$25,750 $26,180
Auto Glass Installers$34,170 $39,470
Automotive Electronics Installers$35,590 $53,320
Bicycle Repairers$28,960 $31,550
Billing Clerks$37,800 $41,990
Bus Drivers$42,080 $58,980
Deckhands$40,900 $52,780
Dispatchers$39,470 - $40,660 $47,840 - $56,900
Flight Attendants$56,000 $65,030
Locomotive Engineers$52,630 - $62,100 $90,250
Pump Operators$44,380 - $65,210 $46,250
Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators$57,260 $63,010
Traffic Technicians$46,570 $63,810
Train Conductors and Yardmasters$62,930 $69,280
Long-Term, On-the-Job Training (Over One Year)
Air Traffic Controllers$124,540 not available
Auto Body Repairers$42,730 $45,740
Bus and Truck Mechanics$47,350 $55,290
Heavy Equipment Mechanics$51,920 $58,990
Motorboat Mechanics$40,180 $45,470
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Ship Engineers$71,130 $83,340
Storage and Transportation Managers$94,730 $108,530
Postsecondary Vocational Training (Certificate or Diploma)
Aircraft Mechanics$62,920 - $64,140 $64,440
Airplane Pilots$82,240 - $140,340 $92,140 - 8
Automobile Mechanics$40,710 $47,590
Heavy Truck Drivers$43,680 $47,700
Motorcycle Mechanics$36,790 $42,780
Ship Captains and Mates$69,180 $82,870
Ship Engineers$71,130 $83,340
Ship Pilots$69,180 $82,870
Subway and Streetcar Operators$68,170 not available

Employment & outlook

The demand for trucking and warehousing services is expected to increase. This is due to an increased demand for shipping raw materials and finished products over highways, rail lines, and waterways. However, technology and automation in warehousing enables better tracking and movement of items, which may decrease demand for workers who move freight or stock.

The employment opportunities in rail transportation are not expected to increase. As a result of improved technology, fewer workers are needed to arrange and operate trains.