How To Become a Transport Manager

Become a transport manager with a bachelor's degree. Take the simple steps toward steady job growth and a high salary as a transport manager.

portrait of Meg Whitenton
by Meg Whitenton

Published August 29, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
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How To Become a Transport Manager
Image Credit: Marko Geber | DigitalVision | Getty Images


Transportation managers oversee a company's shipping, receiving, and supply chain operations. Most transportation managers pursue a bachelor's degree to learn core job skills, including logistics, supply chain management, and operations and facilities management. Many aspiring transport managers study business to develop leadership and customer service skills.

Bachelor's degree graduates also need field experience to become transport managers. Candidates best-suited to this occupation include natural problem-solvers with excellent communication skills.

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What Does a Transport Manager Do?

Transport Manager Responsibilities

  • Manage and supervise staff in charge of routing, dispatching, and tracking transportation.
  • Plan shipping and receiving budgets and minimize transport costs.
  • Ensure that all operations comply with transportation laws and regulations.
  • Practice diplomatic problem-solving and conflict-resolution tactics.
  • Skilled in the latest logistics and transportation management systems software.

Most transport managers hold a bachelor's degree, though an associate degree may suffice for some entry-level jobs, to gain experience. Transport managers also need years of field experience. Many transport managers get their start by collecting experience as logistics managers or transportation supervisors.

While not always required, a master's degree can qualify transport managers for senior roles. Additionally, industry certification is preferred for some high-level jobs and required for some transport managers working in governmental jobs, such as at the Department of Defense.

Transport managers earn a median annual wage of $105,580, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Workers with a master's degree may qualify for senior roles and higher pay.

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What Are the Steps to Become a Transport Manager?

The steps to becoming a transport manager include earning a bachelor's degree, gaining field experience, potentially earning a master's degree for an advanced position, and seeking full-time work in transportation management. Explore the requirements of each step below.

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree in Transportation Management or Business

Most transport managers possess a bachelor's degree; however, majors in transportation management are not very common. Most schools offer programs in business or management, such as a bachelor of business administration in subjects like logistics management or supply chain management.

Bachelor's programs in transportation management explore subjects like supply chain logistics, materials management, and procurement and contracts. This degree also emphasizes critical job skills like customer service, negotiation, and problem-solving.

Employers often prefer candidates well-versed in Department of Transportation regulations.

Students may opt to complete an internship to build field experience. The average cost of attending a public four-year institution was $14,900 in 2020-2021, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Step 2: Get an Entry-Level Transport Management Job

Graduates with a bachelor's degree can qualify for entry-level jobs to build experience toward a more advanced transport manager position. Workers commonly pursue jobs like transportation coordinator or shipping clerk, earning hourly salaries of $17.57 or $15.37, respectively, according to August 2022 data from PayScale.

Such jobs can provide the on-the-job experience students need to enhance their bachelor's education. While requirements vary, workers often spend 2-4 years in an entry-level position before becoming transport managers. Students might consider an internship, bridge program, and/or career services support through their college to increase job prospects.

Step 3: Earn Your Master's of Transportation Management

While a master's degree may not be necessary to qualify for basic transport manager positions, an advanced degree can improve a candidate's career outlook and earning potential. Top executive roles — such as VP of operations — may favor candidates with a master's degree and offer salaries of more than $133,000, according to Payscale data from July 2022.

Many workers choose to pursue a graduate degree in business, such as an MBA. This program enables transport managers to shore up their broad leadership and technology skills while focusing on a concentration such as logistics, supply chain, or operations management.

The NCES reported that the average cost of a graduate degree was nearly $20,000 in 2019-2020. However, online MBAs commonly offer more affordable tuition than on-campus programs, many with completion times of less than two years.

Step 4: Get a Job as a Transport Manager

Graduates of a master's or MBA in transportation management may qualify for specialized roles in a particular subfield of this occupation. Popular areas of expertise among transport managers include:

  • Transportation engineering
  • Transportation systems management
  • Supply chain management
  • Global trade management
  • Transportation logistics

Since most transport managers hold a bachelor's degree, those with a master's can stand out among competitors for higher-paying jobs. Advanced roles, including vice president of operations, chief procurement officer, or global mobility manager, can pay salaries of $107,000-$172,000, according to PayScale data from August 2022.

Step 5: Consider Continuing Education or Specialization

MBAs and master's programs can lead to a DBA or Ph.D. in transportation management or logistics. Doctoral programs can provide upskilling opportunities for business executives or prepare graduates to become college professors or researchers of logistics.

Some graduate programs offer transportation management concentrations. Potential specializations include surface, air, or maritime transportation systems management, delivery logistics, or supply chain management. Specializations can help transport managers qualify for senior roles in that particular subfield.

What to Know Before Becoming a Transport Manager

Aspiring transport managers must be excellent multi-taskers and problem-solvers. The best transport managers are organized and excel at both communication and critical thinking. Jobs in logistics require transportation managers to stay on top of multiple projects at the same time.

Transport managers must also be proficient in the latest technology-based transportation management systems. Additionally, people who can stay focused and productive in a fast-paced work environment are well-suited to a career in transportation management.

Accreditation

Students must choose an accredited transportation management program. Accreditation through the Department of Education ensures a program meets the utmost standards in higher education. In addition to standard institutional accreditation, some business degrees include programmatic accreditation, such as through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Cost

While true program costs vary based on a school's public or private status and on-campus or online format, tuition for a four-year degree ranged from $14,000-$55,000 in 2019-2020, according to the NCES.

Earning a graduate degree cost roughly $20,000 in 2019-2020, also according to NCES. Costs range from $225 to $2,200 for optional professional certification, such as certified professional logistician and certified supply chain professional. Students may qualify for different forms of financial aid, including scholarships.

Salary

Transportation, storage, and distribution managers earned a mean annual wage of $105,580 as of May 2021, according to the BLS. The top-paying industries for transport managers include computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing and scientific research and development services. Transport managers earned the highest salaries in D.C., New Jersey, and Delaware.

While a bachelor's is the minimum education requirement for most transport manager jobs, candidates with a master's or doctorate may earn a higher salary in a top executive or research role. Senior positions for which a master's degree is preferred, like VP of operations, can draw annual salaries of more than $133,000, according to Payscale data from June 2022.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Transport Manager

What skills do you need to become a transport manager?

Transport managers need well-developed customer service skills, including problem-solving and communication. Professionals in this field must be highly organized critical thinkers with leadership experience in supply chain management and logistics.

Employers also require transportation managers with advanced technology skills. Bachelor's and master's programs in transportation management commonly train students to understand and use field-specific software such as radio-frequency identification systems.

What is the fastest way to become a transport manager?

Earning a bachelor's degree can lead to the broadest job options for aspiring transport managers. While traditional bachelor's degrees take four years, some schools offer online bachelor's programs with accelerated completion options.

Students with previous college experience or an associate degree may transfer credits to graduate sooner. Students can accumulate work experience in entry-level transportation, logistics, or a related field while completing their degree.

How do I become a transport manager without a degree?

While a bachelor's degree is widely regarded as the minimum education requirement for transport managers, some employers may accept years of advanced work experience in lieu of a degree. Some entry-level positions may allow candidates to work their way up to a transport manager job with on-the-job training and field experience.

Other workers may pursue a certificate program instead of a degree to upskill towards a promotion, make a career change, or find entry-level job viability. Additionally, some professional certifications, such as the certificate in planning and inventory management, do not require a degree but may increase job prospects for transport managers.

Can I become a transport manager with an online degree?

Yes, transport managers may pursue online degrees — such as BBAs or MBAs — in field specializations like logistics management or supply chain management. Business administration and management programs are especially popular among online programs for their flexibility, affordability, and customizability.

Final degrees do not include whether a student completed the program online or on campus. Online degrees are popular among students with previous experience for their generous credit transfer policies and accelerated completion times. Many online programs also offer set or in-state tuition rates, regardless of residency.

How much money can I make as a transport manager?

Transportation, storage, and distribution managers earned $105,580 as of May 2021, according to the BLS. Automotive equipment rental and leasing ranked among the industries with the highest concentration of transportation managers but paid one of the lowest salaries, at $55,230.

The computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing industry pays the highest salaries to transportation managers. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $193,050 as of May 2022. Professionals with a graduate degree and more than 10 years of field experience may qualify for the highest-paying senior positions in transportation management and related occupations.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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