If your wheels are turning about whether there are healthy numbers of jobs in the transportation industry, rest assured:

We’re talking thousands.

And, it’s not just thousands industry-wide – sometimes, it’s thousands at just one corporation.

Why such a robust outlook? Two factors are at work, says Dr. Laurence Shatkin, author of “150 Best Jobs Through Military Training.”

“There are openings because of turnover in all fields. And also, there are openings because the Boomers are retiring,” Shatkin says. “The other major thing to keep in mind is the reason this is a good match for veterans: The military moves a lot of stuff around. It is engaged in transporting things. So you may have relevant skills. Even those who are not in the transport area directly are used to a fair amount of paperwork. Transportation involves a lot of that, also. There’s a hierarchy in transportation careers, which is also a good match. There is a certain level of comfort here.”

Rob Reich is vice president of Driver Recruiting and Maintenance Operations at Schneider National Inc., which has services spanning logistics, supply chain logistics management and transportation. Reich joined Schneider after exiting the Army in 1992 as a first lieutenant in the Signal Corps. He had never considered the transportation industry for a civilian career and came to Schneider through a placement firm. He was surprised at the similarities to the military.

“What I enjoyed about the military was an environment of achievement and hustle, and the opportunity to work with people to accomplish something. The nature of transportation is similar: We are a logistics organization, and the military relies on logistics. I felt a strong connection,” Reich says. “Transportation had all the things I loved – the camaraderie, the mission focus – and I’m not sure I would find that in many other places in the civilian world.”

Hiring Numbers

Currently, there is “a huge shortage” of truck drivers nationally, says Cheryl Freauff, driver recruiting manager at TMC Transportation. Last year, TMC hired 500 military veterans as drivers, and it expects to hire the same number in 2014, says Freauff, who is also a former U.S. Marine. Other companies project their hiring at similar high numbers: Crete Carrier will hire about 3,000, and Schneider is eyeballing more than 2,000.

The driver turnover standard nationwide is 90 percent, says Crete corporate recruiter Judi Shoup, but Crete averages a turnover rate of 42 percent. Even though Crete’s turnover rate is lower, “it’s still a concern,” Shoup says. “If we see the percentage go up even half of a point in one month, it’s always cause for concern. The biggest problems we have are things that are not controllable factors.”

Given the high demand for drivers, Shoup suggests finding a company whose goal is your contentment. “At all terminals I’ve visited in our company, the employees get along well. Managers have been good at fostering a teamwork environment. Our modern equipment and facilities – having the latest and greatest – has people happy, too,” she says.

On the railroad side, CSX Transportation will hire up to 1,000 veterans in 2014, says Steve Toomey, CSX Talent Acquisition. CSX’s intermodal business “has exploded,” Toomey says. The company has put in eight new terminals or has upgraded existing ones. “Intermodal is this: Trucks used to carry loads the whole way. Now for the most part, they take them to a railroad terminal, drop them at intermodal, we transport, and then the trucks pick them up in the other town,” he explains.

“We hire a variety of people; we don’t want just young people in the workforce. When it comes time to retire, we don’t want them all to leave at the same time. So we’re hiring everyone: middle managers and others with 20 years in the military who are starting a new career,” Toomey says.

Varying Roles and Qualifications

Roles vary in the industry, but recruiters note that there is a place for everyone, up to management positions. At Schneider, there are “a lot of leadership positions,” Reich says. Those are predominantly operations management roles at maintenance or operating centers. Driver trainers are typically senior NCOs or junior officers. “We have new management training for everybody, lasting a few days, and depending on the line of business, specific training is designed,” Reich says.

On the driver side, you need a Class Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), but some states are honoring certain military drivers’ licenses: In the Army, it’s an 88M, and in the Marines it’s a 3531, Freauff says. Companies like TMC have structured training onboarding programs for veterans, she adds.

“Brand new guys out of school come to us for orientation, and in two weeks, they go on the road with a driver trainer. Depending on their experience level, the longest (training) is five weeks. Those with experience who have driven a flatbed need just a couple of days. Then they get in their own truck and are mentored by fleet managers. If they’re struggling, they can go through a simulated training to help with certain skills.”

Crete is looking for any veteran “where a majority of what they do (in the military) is driving,” Shoup says. And, if your interest is elsewhere, Crete seeks those with logistics backgrounds, diesel mechanics and shop leaders. “One of the newer fleet managers (since June) was an Army company commander at Fort Bragg – a captain. Two weeks after he exited, he started working for us,” Shoup says.

“At CSX, the top entry-level position is freight conductor and intermodal service worker, Toomey says. The service workers take the shipping materials from truck to rail car and make sure numbers and safety requirements are correct. Mid-career or retired military move into senior union ranks, such as yard masters and track inspectors – “senior jobs with attention to detail,” Toomey explains. Junior officers are hired into leadership development programs to become supervisors of the union positions. For example, train masters supervise train conductors, and road masters supervise people working on tracks and facilities.

“They coordinate plans. We like junior officers in the military. They lead the union force in accordance with regulations. It’s a similar structure to the military, which is why it’s a good fit for veterans. They’re comfortable with it. Even our time is military time!” Toomey says.

To view available job opportunities in the transportation industry, visit CivilianJobs.com.


by Heidi Lynn Russell, Contributing Editor for Civilianjobs.com

Go to www.TADPGS.com, click on the “Looking for People” tab, then view “Veterans Solutions” to see more for information on our Veterans Solutions for Employers. Please join our LinkedIn group, Veterans Hiring Solutions for Veterans and Companies at http://linkd.in/Sg346w. If you have specific questions about hiring veterans or the incentives for doing so, contact me at [email protected].