With skilled workers in high demand in this growing sector, discover what attributes are required for various transport and logistics careers, and where you can gain valuable work experience
Do I need a related degree?
For graduate management roles in passenger transport, any degree subject is typically accepted, although employers may prefer business or economics related degrees.
In logistics and supply positions, a logistics related degree is often preferred, while for engineering jobs an accredited engineering degree is usually an essential requirement.
Some other jobs don't require a degree but you must have professional qualifications. For example, to become a pilot you need an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), and to drive a lorry, bus or coach you need a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) - or apply for a National Vocational Training (NVT) concession.
The majority of the workforce in transport and logistics doesn't have a degree, so you can enter the industry without a higher education qualification. Some jobs in the sector can be entered with an apprenticeship.
You should check each job to find out whether a relevant degree is stipulated, or if a particular subject is more applicable than others.
For information on entry requirements and relevant qualifications, see job profiles.
What skills do employers want?
Graduate recruiters in the sector require candidates with:
- communication and customer service skills;
- flexibility, adaptability and the ability to be mobile;
- language skills;
- organisational and strategic planning skills;
- practical problem-solving ability.
Where can I get work experience?
Candidates with work experience often have a distinct advantage in the eyes of employers, and there is a tendency to recruit experienced staff looking to change companies rather than newly qualified graduates without experience.
However, some of the larger organisations in the sector - such as Arriva, British Airways and DHL - offer formal work experience through industrial placements of up to one year or internships during the summer break. This is in addition to their graduate schemes.
As the majority of organisations are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), many do not advertise formal work experience placements - but you can still approach these organisations speculatively to enquire about possible opportunities.
To find work placements and internships in the transport and logistics sector, search for work experience.
How do I find a graduate job in transport and logistics?
Some of the larger transport organisations offer graduate schemes in disciplines including: general management; engineering; operations; transport planning and logistics; IT, finance and HR. You can find out more by visiting the individual company websites of leading employers, including Network Rail, Transport for London (TfL) and engineering consultancy Mott MacDonald.
Additional useful information about careers and job opportunities in passenger transport and travel can be found at Careers that Move.
Large postal and courier delivery companies such as DHL, DPD and Royal Mail Group run formal entry schemes for graduates.
There are now also plenty of openings for graduates with an understanding of logistics and supply chains, plus strong communication and relationship-building skills needed to work with both suppliers and customers. Gist, Boots, Lidl and EDF Energy are among the employers offering these graduate opportunities.
For those seeking airline careers, many leading private employers run apprenticeships and graduate training programmes - for example, British Airways runs two- and three-year schemes in fields such as engineering, logistics (IAG Cargo) and operational research, while easyJet have a two-year rotational programme in areas including operations, IT, finance and procurement, product and marketing, strategy and implementation, markets and HR.
As smaller companies tend to use less formal recruitment methods than larger employers, you'll usually need to apply speculatively. It's also important to build up a network of contacts, with many opportunities found through social networking or word of mouth.
To find out about graduate jobs currently available in the sector, search graduate jobs in transport and logistics.
Do I need further qualifications?
For most roles in this sector, a postgraduate qualification is not required, but in growth areas such as logistics, if you do not have a related undergraduate degree then a Masters in logistics and supply chain management may give you a real advantage.
Research any companies that you are interested in working for, as some will support employees to study a Masters degree on a part-time basis. For example, TfL offers day release to study for an MSc in transport planning for appropriate graduates in the second year of employment.
However, further training through professional bodies may be an advantage for career progression, developing networks, continuing professional development (CPD) and keeping up to date with advances in the industry. In some cases, it's compulsory in order to be qualified to do the job. See below for the professional bodies offering recognised qualifications and training in the sector.
- British International Freight Association (BIFA) - Representing the international freight services industry, it offers training to members in air cargo security, customs procedures, dangerous goods, freight forwarding procedures and health and safety.
- The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) UK - An organisation for those working with logistics, supply chains and all transport, you'll find a range of tailored courses for every sector within the industry. There's also a list of specialist logistics, supply chain and transport management recruitment consultants.
- Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS) - The professional body providing knowledge, training and support to those working in procurement and supply management. It awards five qualifications for professional development at various levels.
- Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) - It's concerned with land-based transport systems and infrastructure, offering routes to Chartered Engineer (CEng), Incorporated Engineer (IEng), Engineering Technician (EngTech) and Transport Planning Professional (TPP).
- Institute of Export (IOE) - An awarding body providing a range of qualifications in importing, exporting and international trade.
- Institute of Transport Administration (IoTA) - Represents those working in the transport industry, encouraging best practice in transport and providing educational programmes to its members.
- Institute of Supply Chain Management (IoSCM) - Offers courses in all aspects of supply chain operations including, supply chain management, freight transport, logistics, manufacturing, purchasing, shipping and warehousing.
- Transport Planning Society (TPS) - Supported by the CIHT and the CILT, it awards the transport planning professional qualification, providing professional recognition for transport planners.