Management in road transport keeps road transport businesses running and can take many forms. If you have leadership skills, professional expertise, critical thinking, and self-motivation there are a wide range of functional and technical roles as well as general management in more senior positions. A management career can see you setting business objectives, finding and retaining customers, leading work teams, making sure people and freight are moved from one place to another safely and efficiently, keeping a vehicle fleet on the road, and the finances on track.

Depending on what area of management you’re in, you can work your way into a management role from a frontline job such as professional driver, stores person or administration clerk. Alternatively, you can start your management career having completed formal qualifications in a relevant area of expertise such as finance, law, occupational health and safety, engineering, or human resources.

Management has been identified by businesses in the Road Transport Industry as an area where there is a shortage of suitably skilled people for the number of jobs that are, and will be, available as the industry grows in coming years.

Summary of Occupation

Managers (including supervisors) usually lead teams of other employees providing a functional service to a business, such as maintenance, finance or business development. At other times a manager might be in a stand-alone role providing specialist expertise.

Examples are:

Operations Manager

Perhaps you have been on the road for extended periods of time and are contemplating a change in pace. You may be looking for a more family friendly work life balance which draws on the skills and experience you have obtained as a freight driver or a similar role, such as knowledge of transport routes, timelines and delivery requirements.

As an operations manager, you will be required to supervise, coordinate and facilitate the running of day to day operations, manage staff and maintain a high level of customer service. The nature of the work makes the job challenging and engaging.

Required attributes include the ability to communicate with people at all levels within a company, good computer and literacy skills, sound knowledge of occupational health and safety, and industrial relations policies/procedures.

Supply And Distribution Manager

Supply and Distribution Managers plan, organise, direct, control and coordinate the supply, storage and distribution of goods produced by organisations.

Tasks may include:

  • determining, implementing and monitoring purchasing, storage and distribution strategies, policies and plans
  • preparing and implementing plans to maintain required stock levels at minimum cost
  • negotiating contracts with suppliers to meet quality, cost and delivery requirements
  • monitoring and reviewing storage and inventory systems to meet supply requirements and control stock levels
  • operating recording systems to track all movements of supplies and finished goods and ensuring re-ordering and re-stocking at optimal times
  • liaising with customers concerning requirements for outward goods and associated forwarding transportation
  • overseeing the recording of purchase, storage and distribution transactions
  • directing staff activities and monitoring their performance

Knowledge, Skills and Attributes

Most managers have a background in an area of expertise with formal qualifications in that area and/or significant experience from which they have developed their knowledge and skills. For example, a financial manager would usually have a degree in accounting, commerce, economics, or business management/administration. As their career develops, they might take on additional study to gain post graduate qualifications and or some form of professional accreditation such as becoming a Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA).

Some of the more common management roles in the road transport industry and the qualifications they might need are:

  • General Management (more senior roles with broad responsibilities)

    A degree related to their initial area of expertise. Post graduate qualifications in business management and/or significant experience in running a business unit.

  • Financial Management

    A degree in accounting, commerce, economics, or business management/administration. Post graduate qualifications in business management and/or professional association accreditation. Some level of formal qualifications human resource management.

  • Safety & Compliance

    A diploma or degree in occupational health and safety, or diploma or degree in mechanical engineering.

  • Human Resource Management

    Diploma or degree in human resources management, workplace relations, business management/administration, or law. Post- graduate qualifications and membership of a professional association.

  • Operations Manager

    Degree in business management/administration along with significant experience. Some level of formal qualifications in human resource management.

  • Maintenance Manager

    Post trade qualifications in diesel mechanics, or degree in mechanical engineering. Some level of formal qualifications in business management/administration and/or human resource management.

  • Supervisor

    Trade or post trade qualification in their area of expertise. Certificate IV in Front Line Management or other level of formal qualifications in business management/administration and/or human resource management.

In addition to their qualifications and experience, all managerial roles require:

  • English and numeracy proficiency
  • Proficiency in using digital data and technology
  • Time management and planning ability
  • Self-motivation
  • Initiative
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills
  • High level of customer service focus
  • Knowledge of the legislative environment such as the Heavy Vehicle National Law
  • A safety-first approach

Working Conditions

The road transport industry is generally highly competitive, highly regulated, and is responsible for delivering the things people need to live their lives. Many road transport businesses operate extended working hours, often 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Some also have their working hours affected by their clients having a seasonal nature – such as those servicing agricultural producers. This can mean work can be required longer than the normal 38 hours week, and at weekends. Some roles routinely work longer hours and shift work is not uncommon.

Conditions of employment for all employees include at least the 10 National Employment Standards, with some roles being covered by a Modern Award or an enterprise agreement that provides other conditions of employment. More senior employees are likely to not be covered by an award or enterprise agreement and will negotiate their conditions of employment with their employer.

Income Details

Salaries for managers can vary widely depending on which part of the road transport industry you work in, the size of your employer, and whether you job is in a regional or metropolitan area.

The starting salary for most graduates ranges between $45 000 and $65 000 per year. Examples of salaries for more experienced managers are:

  • Transport Engineers$1 962 per week
  • Supply & Distribution Managers$2 519 per week
  • Fleet Managers & Transport Company Managers$2 191 per week