Transportation Career Requirements
|Truck Driver||Rail Transportation||Pilot|
|Locomotive Engineer||Transportation Engineer|
To get what is arguably the greatest view in the business, a career in aviation is your best bet. Of course, the freedom of flight takes extensive training and requires pilots to occasionally handle stressful situations. Because of the demands, pilots must endure a rigorous training program.
Think you have the right stuff? The first step is getting your commercial pilot certificate. To acquire your certificate you must pass commercial pilot ground school and log at least 250 flight hours (more are recommended). Flying an expensive, complex and large aircraft full of people or cargo through the air requires several additional tests and requirements before you are granted final access to the cockpit. You'll need a medical certificate, instrument and multi-engine rating as well as meet all of the health and fitness requirements.
The flying machines that dominate the skies are as diverse as the birds that live there. Besides standard airplanes that come in any number of sizes and shapes, there are gyroplanes, helicopters, gliders, balloons and airships just to name a few. Each of these aircrafts requires different types of training and licenses, but they all offer the same thrill and amazing view as you spend your day in the clouds. The fantastic working environment can help with the home sickness; pilots can expect to be away from home about half the time.
A bus driver is one of the most commonly visible careers in the transportation industry. Drivers take students to and from school and special activities, transport people to their jobs and help them accomplish everyday activities that would be impossible without them. No matter who is riding, or where they are going, passengers put their trust in bus drivers to get them where they are going quickly and safely.
Because bus drivers transport precious cargo, it takes a lot of training before they are ever assigned a route. Drivers usually undergo at least 40 hours of course instruction, consisting of both classroom and hands-on training behind the wheel. Having a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) is preferable, but not necessarily required as many bus companies help prepare their bus drivers for CDL exams if they do not already obtain one. Like all jobs in the transportation industry, bus drivers must be drug and alcohol-free and at least 21 years old.
Whether they are taking children to school, getting commuters to work or taking vacationers to their desired location, bus drivers provide a critical service to millions of people. Passengers count on bus drivers to get them to their destinations safely and on time. Driving a bus requires a lot of planning and a very even temper. A day on the job may vary depending on what type of bus you are driving. School bus drivers tend to have the same route each day, picking students up and bringing them home from school. Transit bus drivers work schedules that vary depending on where the bus is and where it is going. Busses in metropolitan areas may have shorter routes with frequent stops, while busses in more rural areas may travel further distances and have fewer stops that are miles apart.
Not matter what kind of bus they operate, drivers must be able to maneuver a bus safely and on-time in both heavy and light traffic so that they stick to their scheduled stops. It is also important to be friendly since interacting with people is a large part the job everyday. Besides operating the bus, answering questions and taking fares is an essential part of the job, along with constantly monitoring the safety of the passengers, pedestrians and other motorists.
Have you ever thought about the time, energy and stress you save every time you cross a bridge? It wasn't that long ago when rivers provided enormous obstacles to people trying to get to the other side. Today, modern bridges and highway systems transport us to places further and faster than ever thought possible. Building these structures and systems requires a lot of time and thought. Extensive planning goes into creating bridges that vehicles travel on and highway systems with roads that endure exposure to extreme weather conditions and constant ware and tear. There's a lot of math and science behind all the steel and pavement. As a result, people who pursue careers as civil and structural engineers - the people who build and maintain bridges and highway systems - need to have a solid background in math and physics.
Most engineers get an undergraduate degree in engineering. There's a lot of complex problem solving involved and students must be comfortable working with numbers. Advanced engineering jobs almost always require additional degrees as well. While the long hours and complex problems may seem daunting, they certainly pay off in big ways. Engineers have one of the most rewarding jobs anywhere. Finishing a project like a bridge can be extremely gratifying, not to mention the knowledge that your work makes it easier for people to safely and efficiently connect to other parts of the country.
The University of Iowa and Iowa State University are home to the largest engineering programs in Iowa. Visiting the school's websites is a great way to get detailed information and answer questions you have on first steps to being a part of the engineering field.
For those who want to see the country and desire a traveling office, a career as a truck driver is for you. There are many types of trucks that need drivers; freight haulers, tank haulers and even hazardous haulers, just to name a few. Life on the road doesn't necessarily mean time away from home, either. Local haulers are gone for the day while road drivers are out for a week. Long haul drivers can be gone for three weeks or more driving across the country. No one can deny that truck drivers have one of the most scenic jobs in the business!
Driving a truck is much different than driving a car, and you need a special Commercial Drivers License (CDL) to do it. To earn a CDL in Iowa you must pass a general knowledge written exam as well as a driving skills test behind the wheel. Depending on the size of the truck you will be driving, additional tests may be required. Truck drivers in Iowa can start at age 18, but you will need to wait until your 21 years-old to start any out-of-state trucking adventures.
The day-to-day life of a truck driver can be spent traveling across the country in a semi-truck, or doing daily deliveries for a grocery store. No matter what they drive, truck drivers are some of the most visible warriors of the road. Heavy truck and trailer-tractor drivers operate vehicles with a capacity of 26,000 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) or more. They transport cars, livestock and a variety of other materials. In fact, nearly every store-bought object today will spend time in a truck at some point in time. The drivers usually take their cargo long distances and can be gone for up to weeks at a time as they travel from city to city to deliver their goods.
Light or delivery service truck drivers operate vans and vehicles that have a smaller capacity than 26,000 pounds GVW. They make rounds and deliver merchandise in a specific area and make same-day trips. Unlike heavy truck drivers, these operators spend most nights at home sleeping in their own beds. Besides simply delivering goods, delivery truck drivers are responsible for helping to load and unload deliveries, collect payments if necessary, and turn in any paperwork and records of their day at the end of their shift. It is important for drivers to get plenty of rest when they are not working. Even with the comforts and technology modern trucks offer, all that time on the road and effort spent loading and unloading can be very tiring!
There are three main categories of rail transportation: freight railroads carry goods across the country, passenger railroads move long-distance commuters and urban transit railroads shuffle passengers within metropolitan areas. Getting started in the rail transportation field most likely means you will be working a rail yard job. A high school diploma is needed for most entry-level positions along with good health and a healthy work ethic. Most job training takes place onsite and through some classroom learning. As you move up in the field, additional training is required to go prepare you for the increased responsibility of higher positions.
Locomotive engineers need the most training. Engineers must become federally licensed to operate both freight and passenger trains. Extensive hands-on training with simulators and actual trains along with additional classroom time will give you the skills you need for this complex position. Since safety is essential anytime moving trains are involved, it is also important for engineers to have good sight so they can see what is ahead of the train on the tracks. A hearing and vision test is required along with a safety test, railway operation knowledge test and a skills performance test.
Flying huge machines loaded with people and cargo through the air is obviously extremely exciting. Getting those machines off the ground and to their destination safely, however, takes a lot of planning by a lot of people. Today's flights are planned very carefully. Prior to take off, the airplane's engines, controls and instruments must be checked to make sure the plane is safe to operate. Pilots must be in constant communication with flight dispatches and aviation weather forecasters to make sure their flight can be accomplished safely. Pilots must be alert and quickly react when situations change. Though rare, pilots must always be prepared to activate emergency procedures should they become necessary. While we often think about the sightseeing opportunities, pilots have much more to think about while in the cockpit, especially during takeoffs and landings. Speed, temperature and weight must all be taken into consideration in order to gracefully ascend to the skies and land safely back on the ground.
Most pilots have large support staffs to help ensure flights go as smoothly as possible, allowing them to focus on flying the aircraft. Occasionally there is other work that pilots need to assist with; keeping flight records, handling luggage, scheduling flights and arranging for major maintenance and repairs. Since anything can happen in the air, even dealing with disruptive passengers is sometimes required. Given the distances involved, lots of travel and time away from home is required of an airplane pilot. Jet lag and fatigue are common, but most pilots will tell you the thrill of working amongst the clouds and taking people where they need to go make it all worthwhile.
Full steam ahead! Trains are big, fast and help transport both people and cargo between stations across the country. Driving one of these machines is both an exciting and detailed job. The job of a locomotive engineer starts before a train even leaves the station. The condition of their locomotive must be checked and any needed adjustments must be made before a trip, long or short, can start.
Once the locomotive gets the okay to leave the station, the fun begins! The passengers are the only ones who get to relax though. The engineer has a lot to do! The throttles and airbrakes must be controlled and the instruments that measure speed, amperage battery charge and air pressure must be monitored. As with all transportation jobs, it is important for engineers to be aware of what is happening on the train's route and to follow the weather so that the ride is sure to be a safe one. There is a lot to think about, but it is all worth it when the engineer gets to blow the whistle.
Without highways, railways, canals and bridges our lives would be very, very different. We have transportation engineers to thank for making the structures we travel on safe and convenient and providing a system that moves our goods from here to there with consistency. These professionals, made up largely of civil and structural engineers, are responsible for the planning, design and operation of our entire transportation infrastructure.
It is critical that these structures are both well planned and well constructed. It takes a lot of time, effort and money to create them and it is essential they are done correctly the first time. Mistakes can be extremely expensive and if unnoticed, even deadly. Consequently, construction and design are both critical components of being a transportation engineer. Depending on your career level and specialty, you might spend your days in an office drafting plans for a new bridge, or overseeing the construction of a major highway system as it gets built. Considering our transportation infrastructure and its ease of use, we're extremely fortunate to have so many talented engineers around to get the job done.