Transport & Logistics
From A to B to Z, jobs in transport & logistics help people, and all the things we need, get where they're going.
What is transport and logistics?
Logistics is about handling goods and services from the source through to the customer, as well as the storage of goods, which is known as "warehousing".
Jobs in transport and logistics are all about building networks and creating supply chains to help people and goods travel across the country and beyond.
Transport networks make sure that our shops are stocked, that there is fuel in the petrol station, that there is a bus to get us to school and that there are planes, trains and boats to whisk us away on holiday.
Networks can be local or global; a lot of planning goes into making sure they reach the maximum amount of people and stay up and running.
Any large company that supplies goods of any kind needs transport, so there are opportunities to work in a range of areas, from the Royal Mail to global logistics companies.
What transport and logistics jobs can I do?
Air traffic controller
Air traffic controllers help navigate planes through our very busy skies and guide them to a safe landing.
Find out more by checking out our interview with an air traffic controller.
Drivers are essential to keep any transport network running. Drivers can train to operate specialist vehicles like trains, buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), which transport goods all over the UK and Europe. You could also opt to work a smaller network as a taxi driver or as a van, car, motorcycle or bicycle courier, delivering parcels from A to B.
Driving jobs aren't just restricted to the road either. Many people who start working in transport and logistics go on to work in other forms of transport like trains. If you enjoy driving and don’t mind spending long periods of time on your own (or even relish it!), then a delivery driver could be your perfect job. Of course, you'll need a clean driving licence, and you'll need to be happy working unsociable hours.
Engineers, technicians and mechanic
Engineers, technicians and mechanics are needed to build repair and maintain machinery. As a mechanic working in logistics, you will usually specialise in working with a particular model or vehicle, from cars to trains to jet planes.
The Merchant Navy handles the UK's shipping industry including passenger ships, container ships and tankers. As a merchant navy officer you can manage the running of the ship, crew and transport of goods.
Many jobs in this industry are covered in more detail in other Career Zones:
Pilots fly commercial, passenger and military aircraft. To qualify as a captain and take charge of a plane you'll need to put in lots of practice hours up in the air.
Help people and businesses pack up, co-ordinate and move to new places.
Supply chain manager
Supply chain (or "distribution") managers make sure that everything gets where it needs to be going on time. They manage stock, staff and timetables and are always looking for ways to improve efficiency. They are supported by packing, sorting and picking staff who prepare goods to be despatched from the warehouse.
Train drivers keep passenger and freight trains on the rails. It's a high-skilled job with lots of responsibility, since as a train driver you're charged with the safety of the passengers and goods on board. Training takes a long time and you will need to get up to speed with the many rules and regulations of the railways. Hours can be unsociable, but you're rewarded with an interesting role and good pay.
If you're interested in a career as a train driver, check out this 60 second interview.
Transport planners manage projects to grow and maintain road, rail and air networks. They analyse data to predict the impact of developments, like a new motorway running past a town, or work out the need for new things like bike lanes or traffic-calming measures.
Often known as "stock handling". In this role, you’ll be responsible for receiving, storing and retrieving stock from a warehouse. Warehouse operatives need to be physically fit as the job can be demanding. You’ll need to have a good eye for detail and be able to keep accurate records. Having a forklift driving qualification would also be an advantage, but not essential.
As an operative, you could work in various different industries including:
Is a career in transport and logistics for me?
You'll need to be super organised, alert, responsible and ready to work at a fast pace.
You'll be part of a big, but sometimes very spread out team, so you'll need to be comfortable working with other people. Sometimes, you might be dealing with your colleagues over the phone rather than face to face, while at other times, you may need to go it alone. You'll also need to have good communication skills, as it's important everybody knows what's going on at all times.
Many transport networks run 24/7 so you may need to do shift work at nights and weekends.
To work as a pilot, train driver and in air traffic control, you may need to take assessments to check your eye sight and measure your reaction times.
If you work in removals or a warehouse, there will be some heavy lifting involved too.
How can I start a career in transport and logistics?
There are lots of routes into this industry that don't call for a degree. In some cases, having good communication skills, customer services skills and being personable is more important than having qualifications, as employers will often provide on-the-job training for new employees.
You might not need to study a particular subject at A-level, but at GCSE you should aim for grades 9-4 in maths, English and at least one science subject.
There are many apprenticeships in this area, with programmes including:
- Air traffic controller (level 5)
- Aviation flight operations coordinator (level 3)
- Boatmaster (level 3)
- Express delivery manager (level 6)
- First officer pilot (level 6)
- Harbour master (level 6)
- Port agent (level 3)
- Rail infrastructure operator (level 3)
- Seafarer (level 2)
- Supply chain leadership professional (level 6)
- Train driver (level 3)
- Transport and warehouse operations supervisor (level 3)
- Urban driver (level 2)
If you want to start out at a higher level, an higher national diploma (HND) or degree in management or logistics will be helpful.
Here is a bit more detail on specific roles:
If you want to work as a driver, you'll normally need to have a standard driving licence already. You'll then need to do extra training to get a further licence to drive specialist vehicles like HGVs, taxis or buses. Training can normally be done on the job. It takes 18 months to become a train driver. You could embark on a train driver or urban driver apprenticeship.
To join the Merchant Navy you will need at least four GCSEs including English, maths and a science. You will need at least two A-levels to apply for higher roles. You could apply for a seafarer apprenticeship.
Pilots take a long time to train. You'll need at least 2 or 3 A-levels and to put in around 1500 flight hours to become a captain. Commercial airlines do recruit and train pilots, as does the army. But, places are very competitive and many people also train privately, which can be very expensive. You can train to be a marine pilot or first officer pilot through an apprenticeship.
City and Guilds also offer a wide selection of distribution and warehousing qualifications, covering all areas of the supply chain. If you’re applying for a driving role, then having a full, clean driving license is an essential. There are lots of apprenticeships in this area.
How to boost your chances
Future seafarers can show their commitment by joining the sea cadets and learning how to navigate, surf, row and sail on the water.
What transport and logistics qualifications are available?
Drivers, mechanics, warehouse operatives, supply chain managers and technicians can train towards national qualifications including high level NVQs, diplomas and foundation degrees.
Pilots and Merchant Navy officers also have the chance to rise up the ranks to become captains of their crafts.
If you manage to secure a place on an apprenticeship programme, you’ll have the opportunity to work towards an NVQ or BTEC qualification. Many people who start as apprentices go on to be trained in management roles.
Did you know these transport and logistics facts?
Today, more than 1.6 million people work in transport and storage jobs across the country.
More than 1.1 billion people use the London Underground every year – that's about one eighth of the world's population!
The job of airline pilot is ranked among the best in the world!