Director of Transportation Job Description
Directors of transportation strategize, manage, and continually refine the transportation operations of a company. They may work in the logistics, manufacturing, or transportation network industry, but it’s becoming increasingly common for them to be in retail, especially with the rise of e-commerce. Regardless of what kind of vehicles they handle, their baseline goal is to supervise teams to implement all shipments, deliveries, or rides correctly, with maximum efficiency. Since this is a high-ranking position, directors of transportation bear significant responsibility; they must be able to thrive in an intense, results-driven environment.
Director of Transportation Duties and Responsibilities
Directors of transportation can perform a large variety of duties depending on their employer and their industry. However, most of them perform the following core tasks:
Directors of transportation are responsible for coordinating the day-to-day transportation operations of a company and directing major projects. They may supervise hundreds of employees, delegating tasks accordingly, monitoring performance, and conducting regular follow-ups with business objectives.
Since they hold discussions with stakeholders about strategic direction and analyze financial reports, customer profitability, and other company data, directors of transportation are well equipped to spot trends and opportunities. To further optimize the transportation network from the inside, they constantly research and test software tools, management methodologies, and workflow processes.
Directors of transportation oversee the entire budgeting process for their department, from proposal to expense control. They maintain awareness of all financial transactions, ensuring that projects are in line with their allotted budgets and establishing rates with carriers and providers.
Compliance is important in transportation, as negligence in following regulations may compromise safety. Directors of transportation establish compliance of all programs with state and federal regulations, including those imposed by the Department of Transportation (DOT). In addition, they address safety concerns and customer complaints promptly.
Recruit and Train Employees
As top officers, directors of transportation work closely with HR to recruit employees within the department, such as drivers, dispatchers, and customer service representatives. After hiring, they provide training for development and conduct refreshers, reminding employees to renew certifications as necessary and stay updated with the industry.
Director of Transportation Skills and Qualifications
Directors of transportation are proactive and agile, taking swift action to effectively execute projects. Drawing from long-term experience in the transportation industry, they take charge with a vision in mind while using problem-solving skills to develop solutions. Employers frequently look for the following:
- Leadership – directors of transportation set the direction for the entire department, providing guidance and mentorship to employees, and taking responsibility for overall performance
- Transportation expertise – directors of transportation are experts in their field, knowledgeable about industry trends, supply chain processes, best practices, and compliance requirements
- Organizational – directors of transportation drive projects from start to finish and assign responsibilities, keeping track of several processes at once and making sure that deadlines are met
- Communication – directors of transportation must be excellent, well-rounded communicators adept at making presentations, facilitating meetings, negotiating contracts, and holding one-on-one conversations
- Data analysis – to identify project strengths and weaknesses, directors of transportation should be able to synthesize data from multiple sources and distill their findings into action steps for improvement
Tools of the Trade
Directors of transportation must be proficient with the following tools to accomplish their daily goals:
- Transportation management systems (such as Freightview, Transwide TMS, or UltraShip TMS)
- Workflow management systems (such as Wrike, Trello, or Process Street)
- Spreadsheet tools (such as Excel or SQL)
Director of Transportation Education and Training
The minimum educational requirements for directors of transportation differ from employer to employer, but most successful candidates have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in management, industrial engineering, or a related field. Since this is a senior position, employers put more emphasis on previous workplace performance, generally looking for more than ten years of experience in a management position, preferably with a specialization in transportation. A graduate degree, especially an MBA, is an advantage.
Director of Transportation Salary and Outlook
The median annual salary of directors of transportation is $81,000, according to Payscale. Directors of transportation in the lowest 10 percent of earners make around $41,000, while those in the highest 10 percent earn more than $130,000. Salary increases with experience, and most avail of medical and dental benefits.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) categorizes those in this role under the sector of transportation, storage, and distribution managers. Aspiring directors of transportation are likely to find more opportunities in freight transportation arrangement, company management, and truck transportation, the dominant industries for this sector.
Browse through this list of resources to find out more about working as a director of transportation:
Intelligent Transport – This magazine publishes thoughtful, cutting-edge content on the intersection of technology and transportation, gathering news from all over the world and covering various topics, including business models, safety, and smart cities.
Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation – Written by an award-winning journalist, this book is a fascinating foray into the transportation systems that define an American’s everyday life. While grounded in the present, it delves into historical origins and speculates about the technological shift that’s disrupting the industry.
Cerasis – Ceresis is a logistics company that specializes in LTL freight management, and its website features a veritable wealth of information. Readers interested in transportation can turn to the blog, which releases articles several times per week. The website also lists more specialized resources for freight management.
Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness, and Superior Results – Directors of transportation can learn from Toyota, which became well-known not only for its business success but also for its innovative management style. This book discusses Toyota’s improvement and coaching kata or organizational routines, which are implementable on any team or company.
North American Transportation Management Institute – NATMI is popular in the transported industry for its internationally accredited training and certification programs, which cater to those managing truck and bus fleets. Its programs are rigorous and application-oriented, with emphasis on improving safety and vehicle maintenance.
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