10 High-Paying Jobs in the Transportation Industry

10 High-Paying Jobs in the Transportation Industry

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The transportation industry has numerous sectors with many types of jobs available. So when trying to figure out which role to apply for, you may wonder what the compensation and requirements entail and which transportation jobs are best for you.

The 9 best paying jobs in transportation are in the airline, railroad, marine, or trucking sectors. Pilots, engineers, and air traffic controllers make attractive salaries and competitive benefits, but truck drivers and train operators also have opportunities to have very well-paying careers.

This article will detail what jobs are the highest paying jobs in the transportation industry and what you can do to have a good chance of being hired for one. Before applying to your next job, look at your earning potential and all the steps you need to take to prepare for being a top candidate.

1. Commercial Pilot Or Airline Pilot

  • Average Salary: $145,301 per year.
  • Workload: 93% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 1,151 pilot jobs are available on Salarship

Pilots make excellent money and have an outstanding overall quality of life. One of the reasons a pilot’s job is so well-paying is that it takes years to acquire this skill.

If you become one of the best at what you do, you can take up jobs in different sectors, allowing you to make great money as a pilot. Some opportunities that can open up for the most skilled and experienced pilots include flying planes for:

  • Private jets
  • Federal government flights
  • Commercial airlines

Being a full-time pilot for a small or large business can pay well in salary and other ways. A pilot’s job comes with many perks.

Some of the benefits you may get as a pilot are:

  • Free airline tickets for yourself and your family.
  • Discounts or total compensation at hotels.
  • Retirement benefits.
  • Some highly competitive medical or dental plans.


  • Always required: Certifications and licenses are needed to become a pilot.
  • Required: You’ll need to log a minimum number of fight hours before being handed the keys to a plane.
  • Preferred: College degrees aren’t always necessary, but many companies may demand that you earn a Bachelor’s degree before beginning to work for the airline.

2. Truck Driver

  • Salary: $35 per hour.
  • Workload: 93% of positions are full-time.
  • High Demand: 34,526 truck driver jobs are available on Salarship

Trucking is another career path where there is a labor shortage and high compensation. However, truck driver earnings depend on factors such as experience levels, load difficulty, which driving companies they work for, and whether they need to do remote locations driving. The highest-paying truck driving jobs are:

  • Owner-operators: are self-employed truck drivers, the average earnings of owner-operator drivers is $244,272 per year. However, owner-operators manage their expenses themselves and pay for gas and insurance.
  • Special freight truck drivers: oversized load trucks, specialty vehicle hauler, and tankers (for water transportation).
  • Special conditions truck drivers: mining industry truck drivers and ice road drivers.

Despite technological advancement in autonomous driving, a shortage of truck drivers is expected for at least the next ten years. Companies will always need to hire employees to transport goods and manage supply chains!


  • Obtaining a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License)
  • Ability to travel long distances
  • Ability to lift heavy
  • Good communication skills

3. Air Traffic Controller

  • Average Salary: $95,430 per year.
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 42 air traffic controller jobs are available on Salarship

Being an air traffic controller is one job you might not think of right away when considering lucrative positions. However, an air traffic controller’s job is one of the best-paying jobs in transportation. You can make a high salary in this industry, especially in some states like New Hampshire, Virginia, and Illinois.

Because it’s a crucial position, you have some bargaining power as you have a skill that takes months of preparation, and the employer cannot quickly replace your job. To become an air traffic controller, you’ll need five months of on-site training before you begin work.

Some of the reasons this job is lucrative include the following:

  • There is always a need for your role at airports worldwide.
  • You will often get some highly competitive benefits packages.
  • Retirement age is 56, so you’ll be able to enjoy all your hard work at a younger age, making it one of the best-paying jobs in intrinsic value.


  • Always required: You’ll need to undergo rigorous training at an FAA facility.
  • Usually required: The maximum age to start as an air traffic controller is 30 years old.

4. Captain Of A Ship

  • Average Salary: $105,406 per year.
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 16 ship captain jobs are available on Salarship

Workers aren’t just needed on land, but in the water too. One form of transportation that’s not as common, but people still rely on often, is boats. The people that operate the boats are called ferry drivers or captains.

Being a ship captain can be a well-paying job, depending on where you live. In port cities like New York and San Francisco, people rely on ferries to get to and from work, and it’s sometimes their daily mode of transportation.

As such, ferry captains are in higher demand and can make competitive salaries in these environments.

Not only are ships relied on to carry people, but there are also plenty of cargo ships in the transportation industry. In fact, captains of large cargo ships can make considerably more money than ferry captains.

Ship captains and ferry captains get good benefits as well. Because they are just as crucial as any other job in the transportation industry, ship captains have the opportunity to work long hours and make a lot of money.


  • Usually required: Experience as a crew member or mate on a boat or ferry is often required. Some companies want a year or more of working on a ferry before you can get a job as a captain.
  • Generally required: Training is often needed to be a ship captain, depending on the specific vessel you are operating.
  • Preferred: A college degree is often something employers will want when they hire you for a position as a ferry captain.
  • Preferred: Military experience will often help you get a good-paying job in this industry as it proves you have worked in similar high-pressure situations while on a boat or otherwise.

5. Transportation Engineer

  • Average Salary: $91,000 a year (on average).
  • Workload: 100% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 32 transportation engineering jobs are available on Salarship

Engineers have the most critical job in the transportation industry. Without them, there wouldn’t be machines to drive, fly, or sail.

You can make an excellent salary in various transportation sectors as an engineer. Whether you’re discussing hourly pay or salary, it is often competitive with many other high-paying jobs.

Many vehicles are involved in the transportation industry, requiring engineers to design them. Some high-paying sectors in the transportation industry that need engineers are:

  • Airlines
  • Railroads
  • Food distributors
  • Ferries and boats

The more experienced you are, the more opportunities you’ll have to make good money as an engineer in the transportation industry. Once your skillset has reached a certain level, you may find highly competitive job offers. 

Bonuses are also typical in this industry and are a great way to boost your overall earnings over time. You may see bonuses during the hiring stage or as incentives.


  • Required: Bachelor’s degrees are almost always necessary for an engineering job in transportation.
  • Required: Industry experience is often mandated before accepting a role as an engineer in most transportation positions.
  • Preferred: Master’s degrees or Doctorates are usually helpful when you want the best-paying engineering jobs in transportation.

6. Personal Driver

  • Salary: $15 per hour.
  • Workload: 91% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 157 personal driver jobs are available on Salarship

In the personal driving space, there are a variety of roles where the payment can vary wildly. For example, driving a taxi pays drastically differently than running a business that takes celebrities from place to place. And transporting people by bicycle in a city pays quite differently to driving a city bus.

Some of the higher-paying personal driving jobs include:

  • Limousine drivers
  • Tour bus drivers
  • Private car chauffeurs


  • Required: Clean driving record.
  • Preferred: Experience in driving in a professional setting is typically wanted.
  • Preferred: Like many jobs, high school education is usually something an employer looks for, even if they don’t explicitly require it for the position.

7. Corporate Jobs In The Transportation Industry

  • Average Salary: $788,000 a year (on average).
  • Workload: 92% of positions are full-time.
  • High Demand: 119,791 management jobs are available on Salarship

Let’s face it. If you want to make considerably more money in any industry, including the transportation industry, chances are you’ll need to work your way up. While it may take time to reach these positions, it’s well worth the wait.

Some of the best-paying jobs in transportation are in middle or upper management. These roles require experience and thorough knowledge of the company and its goals.

Some of the most coveted management roles are as follows:

  • CEO
  • CFO
  • General Manager
  • Supervisor

It’s typically a long road to get to the top of the food chain in any industry, including transportation. A recent survey shows that the average CEO worked for 24 years before reaching the top title in management. The bright side is that you can get other high-paying middle-management jobs while working up to the most prestigious positions.


  • Required: Most employers require Bachelor’s degrees for most management positions in transportation.
  • Required: Licenses may be necessary if any part of the job involves driving a company vehicle.
  • Preferred: Industry experience is often needed to get a management role.

8. Mechanic

  • Salary: $25 per hour.
  • Workload: 93% of positions are full-time.
  • High Demand: 55,796 mechanic jobs are available on Salarship

While not always considered the most lucrative position, mechanics can have some of the best-paying jobs in the transportation industry over time. The most likely way of making good money as a mechanic is to diversify your skill set and learn as much about the tools around you as possible.

If you become an expert mechanic, management roles and promotions may come your way. For example, undergraduate or graduate degree-holders can make much more money than entry-level mechanics.

If you master the skills needed to become a mechanic, you can get one of the better-paying transportation jobs. The more you learn about the job and related skills, the better your chances are of earning well through your salary and benefits.


  • Required: You need a high school diploma to be a mechanic. College degrees will allow you a better chance of securing a job.
  • Preferred: Several certifications will give you a distinct advantage over your competition when applying for a mechanic position in various transportation sectors.

9. Flight Attendant

  • Average Salary: $85,910 per year.
  • Workload: 90% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 441 flight attendant jobs are available on Salarship

Making sure everyone has a good experience while on an airplane is a challenging feat. As such, airlines do their best to hire people who are fit for the job and can handle any obstacles thrown at them.

Flight attendants are compensated well in their salary and benefits. It’s also a good choice for people who might not want a typical 9-to-5 job.

So what are a few of the perks that make being a flight attendant one of the best-paying jobs in the transportation industry?

  • Discounted or free plane tickets can save you lots of money on travel.
  • Competitive retirement plans are a different form of compensation that can be quite lucrative over time.
  • Medical and dental benefits are expected in the industry and can save you a lot of money.


  • Required: You must be at least 18 to be a flight attendant. In some areas, this might be 21.
  • Required: You’ll need a high school degree when applying to be a flight attendant.
  • Preferred: Customer service experience in the industry or similar roles will help your chances of being hired.

10. Train Operator

  • Salary: $27 per hour.
  • Workload: 91% of positions are full-time.
  • Low Demand: 508 train operator jobs are available on Salarship

Operating a train is another way to make great money in the transportation industry. For example, railroads are hiring train operators to use equipment that many modern cities rely on for daily commutes and longer-distanced travel.

Locomotive operators, also called engineers, are an essential part of the transportation industry, making them one of the best-paid employees in the industry. You’ll earn a competitive salary as a locomotive operator and receive great benefits that rival other jobs in the transportation sector.


  • Usually required: You will almost always need a high school degree to be a train operator.
  • Always required: In addition to educational requirements, you will need special licensing approved by the government to operate a train.
  • Preferred: Most railroads will want you to have industry experience before hiring you as a train operator.