Transportation, Distribution & Logistics

Transportation keeps our economy, people, and products moving. Occupations involved in transporting, distributing, and coordinating the movement of goods range from airline pilots to mechanics to logisticians. Additionally, this cluster includes occupations related to warehouse storage, including jobs like cargo and freight agents and non-emergency dispatchers.

Most of this career cluster’s activities take place on the ground via highways and railroads, but the cluster also includes workers who move people and products over the water and through the air. Work environments vary by occupation. While some truck drivers may work long hours and travel large distances, people who work in warehouses are more likely to work eight-hour shifts. Physical strength is necessary for some jobs, while word processing and spreadsheet skills are priorities in others.

For the Transportation, Distribution and Logistics career cluster, the greatest number of new jobs in North Carolina are projected to include heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers; laborers, and freight stock, and material movers; hand packers and packagers; and automotive service technicians and mechanics. Many jobs require a high school education, but postsecondary education – usually no higher than a bachelor’s degree – is needed for some occupations. Workers often find jobs in temporary service agencies, long distance freight trucking businesses, new car dealerships, warehouse and storage facilities, or express delivery companies.

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Core Skills

The following Core Skills are necessary for success in these occupations.

  • Repairing - Repairing machines or systems using the right tools
  • Equipment Maintenance - Planning and doing the basic maintenance on equipment
  • Operation & Control - Using equipment or systems
  • Installation - Installing equipment, machines, wiring, or computer programs
  • Troubleshooting - Figuring out what is causing equipment, machines, wiring, or computer programs to not work
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or display screens to make sure a machine is working
  • Equipment Selection - Deciding what kind of tools and equipment are needed to do a job
  • Quality Control Analysis - Testing how well a product or service works
  • Time Management - Managing your time and the time of other people
  • Coordination - Changing what is done based on other people's actions

Career Pathways

Career Story

Noah Wiggins

Lenoir Community College

Automotive Systems Technology Instructor

"I wanted to help provide the industry with well-equipped, entry-level technicians."

With 17 years of experience in the automotive field, a high school diploma, and an Associate degree in Automotive Systems Technology, Noah Wiggins landed a teaching job back where he earned his degree at Lenoir Community College.

For years, Wiggins had entertained the idea of teaching what he had learned in his work. One reason for considering this option was that training others was part of his job duties while still working as an automotive technician.

“This helped me realize I wanted to help provide the industry with well-equipped, entry-level technicians,” he says.

Now he develops lesson plans and provides instruction in the classroom as well as in the lab.

“What I like most about my job is to see a student have that ‘light bulb’ moment and realize that I have played a role in their understanding of automotive technology,” he declares. “I also really enjoy spending the workday with great fellow employees.”

Prior to coming to LCC, Wiggins spent five years providing various automotive services ranging from routine maintenance to parts counter duties. He earned certifications as a Nissan Master Certified Technician and as a Toyota Expert Technician.

Wiggins says that learning how to manage his time and developing his soft skills have prepared him most for his current position.

“Those areas allow me to be able to easily relate to students and staff. I also participated in work-based learning, which allowed me to gain valuable on the job training to better be able to apply what I was learning in the classroom.”

While Wiggins was unable to participate in SkillsUSA as a student years ago, he now participates as an event leader.

“I would have welcomed the opportunity back then, and I encourage students to participate in outside organizations to hone the skills they learn in the classroom.”

Looking back over his time in the automotive field, Wiggins said the industry changes from year to year.

“Some of the biggest changes have to do with new technology that gives the driver more information,” he said. “What that has meant for me as a technician is that I have to update my training every year to retain my certification and to be able to keep up with technology as it is produced.”

The best advice Wiggins offers to students is to always be on time and maintain good attendance.

“Be professional,” he adds. “Never stop learning and never stop expanding your skill set.”

Go to Career Cluster Matrix to find occupations by cluster and interest type.