Salary guide: top public transportation jobs

Last updated: May 26, 2024
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Salary guide: top public transportation jobs
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The public transportation industry is growing in the US. By 2026, it's predicted that 122.5 million people will use public transport.

The public transit system is affordable and convenient for people to use in their everyday lives. For example, people often use buses and subways to get to work.

If you're looking for a new job or considering a career change, the transportation sector is worth considering.

There are career opportunities available now. There is a range of positions to choose from, and some come with on-the-job training.

To help you start your job search, we've put together a list of the top public transportation careers. We'll give you an insight into the daily duties, plus share salary information.

What are public transportation jobs?

Public transportation includes any type of transport that members of the public can access. Most options come at a cost, and some services have regular routes.

There is a wide range of public transport modes available, including buses, subways, and light rail cars. City planners include these services to help reduce traffic and save people from having to pay for parking.

Regional areas also benefit from public transportation because it connects them to cities and towns.

Most forms of transportation need drivers or operators. If you enjoy traveling, you can work as a bus driver, subway operator, streetcar operator, or train driver.

There are jobs in maintenance, planning, and management. Plus, there are roles in administration, customer service, security, and engineering.

Why would you want to work in public transportation?

Working in the public transportation industry can give you job security. For some positions, no work experience is required.

For example, if you want to work as a bus driver, you'll only need a valid commercial driver's license. Paid training is provided, and you'll gain extra skills that can be added to your resume.

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Eligible employees get a range of health benefits, including medical, dental, and vision insurance.

There are options for workplace flexibility, so you can choose which shifts you want. Would you prefer to work at night or during the day? Would you rather travel long distances or stay in your local area?

Salaries are usually competitive, and you can get retirement benefits, such as a 401(k) plan and pension.

If your role involves travel, you'll get to work independently and interact with passengers. Plus, there are opportunities for career development and promotion.

What are the top public transportation jobs?

Want to work in public transportation? These are the top jobs to look out for:

1. Bus driver

Bus drivers transport passengers along specific routes. They usually stop at regular intervals for pick-ups and drop-offs.

Bus drivers need to follow traffic laws and take care on the road. They need to be prepared for traffic congestion, roadwork, and other obstacles.

Drivers communicate with passengers, check tickets, and look out for suspicious behavior and harassment.

You'll need a commercial driver's license (CDL) to work in this role. Most companies offer a bus driver training program to make sure you're ready for the job.

You'll need to have a clean driving record and pass a background check and drug screening.

Communication skills, patience, time management, and reliability are all essential skills. If you have bus driving experience, it'll be an advantage.

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How much can you make as a bus driver?

The average salary for a bus driver is $51,310 per year.

2. Subway operator

Subway operators pilot subway trains. These trains can be either above or below ground and run on a rail line.

Subway operators need to maintain the right speeds and keep an eye out for changing signals.

Depending on the service route, they may greet customers and check tickets. If a passenger needs help getting on or off the subway, the operator will provide assistance.

They make announcements about upcoming stops. Subway operators often work in dense cities, including New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.

To get the job, you'll need a high school diploma or equivalent. If you've worked in the transit industry, it'll be an advantage. Time management, communication skills, and manual dexterity are required.

How much can you make as a subway operator?

The average yearly salary for a subway operator in the US is $71,520. Alternatively, you can apply for a role as a streetcar operator.

3. Transit manager

Transit managers oversee public transport systems. They're responsible for a variety of tasks, including planning routes, setting budgets, and creating goals. This information needs to be compiled into written reports.

Managers work as part of a team. They make sure any transit operators are qualified and that all shifts are filled. Transit managers supervise and train new team members and make sure the service is running efficiently.

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They research potential changes to make the service better. For example, they help decide how much to charge for a ticket and which routes to schedule.

Most transit managers have a bachelor's degree in a related field, such as business or management.

How much can you make as a transit manager?

The average salary for a transit manager is $65,000 per year.

4. Taxi driver

Taxi drivers pick up passengers in a car or minibus. Passengers are charged a fare based on how far they travel. This is calculated using a meter.

People can call taxis to pick them up from a specific location. Alternatively, they can "hail a cab" on the side of the road.

Some taxi drivers wait at busy locations where customers are likely to be. Airports, clubs, shopping malls, and hotels are just a few examples.

You should be at least 21 years old with a valid driver's license and a clean driving record. Most taxi drivers work for a fleet and get access to a cab and short introductory training.

Taxi drivers need excellent customer service skills and good driving skills. Knowledge of the local area is an advantage.

How much can you make as a taxi driver?

Taxi drivers make an average of $35,499 per year.

5. Transport scheduler

Transport schedulers oversee the creation of schedules for buses, trains, and other public transport options.

They help decide how often to run each route and where stops should be made. Schedulers manage rosters and make sure operators get regular breaks.

These workers can be found in an office environment and rely on technology to do their job. They use computers, scheduling software, and apps. They may need to communicate with other team members over the phone.

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Schedulers may also be responsible for scheduling any transport maintenance or repairs.

If you want to work as a transport scheduler, experience working in a busy office environment is recommended. Depending on the job, an associate’s degree may be required.

You’ll need excellent communication, planning, organization, and time management skills.

How much can you make as a transport scheduler?

The average salary for a scheduler is $57,212 per year.

6. Airline pilot

Airline pilots fly passenger planes. They look at the weather and perform basic maintenance checks before each flight. Pilots make sure the plane is at the correct weight and track fuel consumption during the journey.

They use a radio to communicate with air traffic control, and they're responsible for keeping accurate flight records.

Pilots work closely with other team members, including co-pilots and flight crew. Pilots usually work for airlines and can fly local or international routes.

If you want to work as a passenger airline pilot, you'll have flight experience and an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL). Pilots also need a certification.

You'll need good leadership and communication skills. You should have great attention to detail and be comfortable spending long hours away from home.

How much can you make as an airline pilot?

The average salary for an airline pilot is $83,507 per year. You may also be interested in an air traffic controller role. The average yearly salary is $93,656.

7. Train attendant

Train attendants work on longer train journeys. They help passengers with their luggage and show them to their cars.

They make sure passengers are comfortable and offer assistance as required. Some train crew members work in dining cars, preparing meals and drinks for customers.

They check sleeping cars and make sure bathrooms and other facilities are clean.

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Attendants restock supplies and report any incidents. They remove garbage and clean the cars before departure.

These workers need excellent communication skills, time management, and organizational skills. They work together in a team environment.

Overnight shifts and overtime may be required, depending on the route. You'll need a high school diploma or equivalent. Most train attendants get on-the-job training.

How much can you make as a train attendant?

The average salary for a train attendant is $22.27 per hour.

8. Security officer

Transportation companies often employ security guards. They can work in airports, at train stations, and on transit cars and planes. It's their job to make sure passengers and crew members are safe.

Security guards look for suspicious behavior, and they may perform random bag checks in search of drugs, explosives, or illegal weapons. They may use metal detectors and other screening tools.

Security guards break up fights and may ask people to leave if their behavior is making other commuters feel uncomfortable.

Security guards need to be confident and cool and calm under pressure. They need good communication, negotiation, and observational skills.

To do the job, you'll need to be physically fit and pass a background check. Some companies require a fitness test.

Training may be provided on the job, but senior roles require experience. For example, Amtrak hires police officers to be part of its security team.

How much can you make as a security guard?

The average salary for a security guard is $31,470 per year.

9. Transport engineer

Transport engineers are responsible for new transportation projects. They help create blueprints, schedule work, write reports, and set budgets.

They're involved in a range of projects, including building new roads, bridges, railroads, and traffic signals.

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When public transportation companies want to build or upgrade infrastructure, such as train tracks or subways, a transportation engineer will be part of the process.

They work closely with a team of professionals, including project managers, executives, accountants, and consultants.

Transport engineers need a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. If you have experience working in transit design, it'll be an advantage.

Good organization, time management, and teamwork are essential. You'll also need technical skills, computer skills, and math skills.

How much can you make as a transport engineer?

The average salary for a transportation engineer is $70,636 per year.

10. Ferry boat captain

Ferry boat captains transport passengers by water. They operate ferries and navigate waterways.

Ferry captains use maps and check weather and tides before departure. They maintain the vessel and make sure all equipment is operating correctly.

These captains look out for obstacles and use a radio to communicate with other boats and authorities. They supervise a crew and make sure passengers get on and off the ferry safely.

Captains create logs of each journey and record any incidents.

If you want to operate a ferry, you'll need a captain's license. You'll also need experience working as a deckhand.

You should be comfortable traveling on the water and have good time management skills. Ferry captains need good customer service skills, leadership skills, and organization.

How much can you make as a ferry boat captain?

The average salary for a ferry boat captain is $66,550 per year.

It’s time to start your job search. Head over to our job board and search by job type and location.

Alternatively, you can browse all job vacancies in your area.

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Working in public transportation

Start your new career in the public transportation industry. There is a range of job types available, depending on your skills, experience, and interests.

Do you want to travel by land? Consider a job as a bus driver, subway operator, train attendant, or taxi driver. If you prefer sea or air, there are jobs for pilots and ferry captains.

Transport schedulers, engineers, and security officers are a few more top public transportation roles to consider.

Do you want to get hired? Browse our job board for open positions. Don't forget to visit our resource center for more career tips.

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Sylvain Codjo
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I am interested in this job

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Umer Choudhary
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I am interested how and where do I apply

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Iro Malaya
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Im very interested too 🐯🐯

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Farhad Naibkhel
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I am interested

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