Do you harbour the skills to be in transportation?

Put on your seat belt and enjoy the career launch! What skillset do you need to enter the world of transportation? 

One might say all you need to know is how to drive and you are golden to succeed in the transportation industry. What is guaranteed is once you choose this career path the opportunity to have the same day twice will never exist.

People in the transportation industry intrigue me. There are specific skillsets that one must be enriched with in order to tackle various positions. Being a banker and having a grasp on financing is a must. With US currency difference, fluctuating interest rates, induction of a new Prime Minister/President can all affect the day to day operations and lead the most serene accountant into a haven of premature grey hair.   

Inhabiting genes from Astrodomes is almost a prerequisite. You must be able to predict the future. To become complacent with the present is not an option. Freight changes, weather conditions, rerouting equipment, breakdowns, repairs, substituting power, protests, strikes, tragedy (hurricanes, 9-11, Nipigon River bridge failure) and a multitude of other circumstances require dispatchers and management to forecast and re-orchestrate routes, budgets, reapply for permits, orchestrate freight, equipment and people while at all times satisfying anxious customers. 

You must be a mathematician. Know sizes, weight, fuel consumption, costs per mile, distances and approximation of distance versus time.   You must possess the knowledge of height, weight, how to pack freight as well as know the rate needed cover costs plus profit (profit…..yes, you do need to make a profit –there is a business to run).

Gymnist over a high bar as a metaphore for the flexibility needed in transportation industryFlexibility somewhat comparable to an Olympic gymnast ranks amongst the top three contenders on a job trait requirement. There is not a career position in transportation that opens at 9 and ends at 5.   If there is tragedy, there is no clock there is simply a need of time as well as a demand of stamina and endurance.  If inclement weather exists, delays are imminent. Being home at the anticipated time will have to be adjusted. There simply is no option.  When roads are closed this changes expectations and anticipations. Both emotional and physical flexibility are dire requirements. The school of hard knocks is a mighty fine school that educates and redefines this skillset.

Possessing legal knowledge is an added bonus.   Even try to understand regulation change?  Deregulation, HOS, CSA, CVOR, MTO, DOT, FMCSA, CRA – a lot of acronyms but ones with a lot of power if you violate one of their rules or new adaptations of an older regulations. It’s necessary to stay in the “know.”  Trying to be an ostrich by burying heads in the sand only leaves the posterior exposed!

This merely scratches the surface of some of the fine skills needed to be in the transportation field. I have always respected transportation as a niche industry filled with many great souls.  It’s an industry like no other. To each and every one past, present and future, who respect what you do and how you do it, my hat is off to you and I thank you with extreme gratitude. Both to you and your families and I wish you only the best in your career.

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Linda started her career in the insurance industry in 1979 and gravitated toward the niche market of transportation insurance in 1986. Linda has been active in the transportation community since her beginnings and is a Board Member with the Durham Region Transportation Association. Since 2006, Linda has been contributing relevant industry articles in Ontario Trucking monthly periodicals