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Careers in the Transportation Field

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Various career options are available in the transportation field. From waterways to railways to airways, Americans have always had a fascination with mass transit systems. The rise of the American railway in the mid-19th century revolutionized the transportation industry, as did the advent of flight in the early 20th century. With time, as both became integral to America's transportation system, the number of careers in the industry grew substantially.

Rail Transportation

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects average job growth in the field of railway transportation through 2018. Despite the average growth, the BLS believes that the job prospects for qualified applicants will be good because the number of workers expected to retire should open numerous opportunities. The two most prominent positions within the railway industry are the train conductor and engineer. The minimum qualification to work in these positions is a high school education. Many conductors and engineers gain most of their experience through hands-on training, but they usually have to complete formal training provided by the railway. They also have to obtain a federal license. According to BLS statistics, the median hourly wage of railroad conductors was $25.40 per hour as of May 2008; locomotive engineers made $22.54 per hour.

Water Transportation

Various career options are available in the field of water transportation. Ship captains are generally considered the most prominent figures in the water transportation industry. Other positions include deck mates or officers, riverboat pilots, deckhands and sailors and ship engineers. It is expected that the number of jobs in this industry will grow by 15 percent by 2018, according to BLS projections. Training varies by position. Deckhands and shipmates usually receive very basic training that lasts just a few days. Engineers and deck officers must take an examination, which usually follows a formal training class and thousands of hours of hands-on training. They must also receive an endorsement from the U.S. Coast Guard. With time, engineers and deck officers can eventually become ship captains. According to the BLS, the median annual salary of engineers, deck officers and ship captains was $61,960 as of May 2008.

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Air Transportation

While there are many career options available in the air transportation industry, the most prominent are those of aircraft pilots and air traffic controllers. Job growth in both of these fields is expected to remain average compared to all other industries through 2018. Extensive training is required to become a pilot. Most airlines have made a college degree the minimum requirement for employment. Pilots receive extensive training either in the military or through FAA certified instruction. According to the BLS, the median annual salary of pilots was $111,680 as of May 2008. Various paths lead to the position of an air traffic controller. Military experience offers one path, while formal training through an FAA-approved program is another. Some people become air traffic controllers through a combination of work experience and education. Air traffic controllers direct flights and keep them safe by making sure they are a safe distance apart from one another. Air traffic controllers received a median annual salary of $111,870 as of May 2008, according to the BLS.

2016 Salary Information for Air Traffic Controllers

Air traffic controllers earned a median annual salary of $122,410 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, air traffic controllers earned a 25th percentile salary of $84,730, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $149,230, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 24,900 people were employed in the U.S. as air traffic controllers.

About the Author

Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.

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