In Transportation, Distribution and Logistics careers, the sky is the limit.

Two of Southwest Airlines’ senior managers know firsthand what it’s like to see careers go places in the transportation industry. Jim Ruppel and Greg Wells both began their careers handling baggage at the airline and “both landed positions of increasing responsibility,” says Southwest spokesman Chris Mainz. “Today Ruppel is vice president of customer relations and rapid rewards at our Dallas headquarters and Wells is senior vice president of operations.”

By Land, Sea, and Air

This cluster helps ensure that products and people travel safely from point A to point B and arrive on time. The cluster also includes people who maintain and support the equipment and transportation systems, keeping everything in motion in the air and on land or sea.

On-the-Job Training

“You receive training on the job,” says Bill Mallini, Galveston Island ferry operations manager. Crews on boats operated by the Texas Department of Transportation assist with the safe loading, unloading, and transport of vehicles and their passengers between Galveston Island and Port Bolivar on the Texas mainland.

“Someone who is assertive can move up. It’s possible to work your way from the bottom to the top,” says Mallini, who adds that the same goes for those working below decks in the vessel’s engine room, where responsibilities can include repairing or overhauling machinery, reading electrical diagrams or mechanical drawings, and performing welding or carpentry.

A beginning-level marine oiler who keeps ship and boat engines oiled and greased, Mallini says, can advance to become a marine engineer in charge of installation and maintenance of maritime engines.

High-Flying Salaries

Perhaps you prefer soaring to sailing. Job candidates with college degrees or military experience can earn some of the highest- paying salaries in the Transportation, Distribution & Logistics cluster by entering aviation.

Airline pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers earn from $55,330 to $150,500 annually. Airlines usually require that pilots, in addition to college degrees or military service, have at least 250 hours of flying experience on particular aircraft and a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airline transport pilot certificate.

On the ground, air traffic controllers, who help ensure the safe operation of commercial and private aircraft by coordinating their movement, are almost exclusively hired by the FAA. Many air traffic controllers are now retiring, which opens positions at airport towers and control centers around the country. They earn from $45,020 to as much as $161,010 annually, and a college degree is preferred, but not required, according to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association.

Keep the Goods Moving

Opportunities are also expanding at home and abroad for those assisting with the flow of goods from around the world, says Laurie Denham, Executive Director of the American Society of Transportation and Logistics.

With increased U.S. imports clogging rails, roads, and ports, those with responsibility for the distribution of goods have increasingly critical jobs, Denham says. “And because of the increased global work, there are lots of international opportunities,” she says.

Jobs in this area are often at warehouses or distribution centers. At these facilities, forklift operators unload pallets of cargo from trucks. Warehouse workers retrieve items from storage to fill orders. At the executive level, logistics managers are responsible for the warehousing, transportation, inventory management, and customer service for a manufacturer, retailer, or other company.

Brownsville is a perfect location for careers in transportation, distribution, and logistics!


Is Transportation, Distribution and Logistics the right cluster for you?

Take this quiz to find out. Answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions.
1. Do you like to travel?
2. Do you think it would be cool to drive trucks or fly planes for a living?
3. Do you enjoy solving word problems or brain teasers?
4. Have you ever worked part-time delivering newspapers?
5. Do you organize events at school or church?
6. Do you do well in your English, math and science classes?
7. Are you good at operating tools and machinery?
8. When on a trip, are you the one who reads the maps?
9. Do you pay attention to details?
10. Do you have a perfectly clean driving record?