Road Transport Manager

The Job and What's Involved

Road transport managers work in either passenger or freight transport. They are responsible for the efficiency and safe running of a fleet of vehicles and for planning the routes and schedules of the drivers.

Those who work in road haulage (freight transport) plan for vehicles to travel as fully loaded as possible to avoid waste of fuel and wages. They need to ensure goods are correctly looked after on the journey so they arrive on time and in good condition. In passenger transport, managers have to plan carefully to make sure buses and coaches are available when passengers want to travel.

The duties of a road transport manager can vary according to the size of their employer and type of business, but they are usually responsible for:

  • Making sure that the transportation of goods or passengers is carried out in accordance with UK and European Union (EU) law.
  • Complying with regulations governing vehicle safety, environmental controls on fuel emissions, driver hours, customs requirements and hygiene.
  • Estimating the number of people, or quantities and types of goods, needing to be moved and planning transport schedules and timetables.
  • Using planning software to analyse the costs of scheduled journeys and keep them within budget.
  • Making sure that enough staff and vehicles are available to operate the services.
  • Checking that timetables and schedules are followed.
  • Inspecting and licensing vehicles and arranging regular servicing.
  • Managing difficult situations, such as bad weather, breakdowns, accidents, security alerts or traffic congestion.
  • Liaising with suppliers and customers and dealing with complaints.
  • Making sure that documents, such as consignment and delivery notes, are completed correctly
  • Managing a team of staff.

Staff management duties could include:

  • The day-to-day running and supervision of a depot or traffic office.
  • Monitoring and managing the performance of staff.
  • Recruiting drivers and administration and supervisory staff.
  • Staff training and development.
  • Implementing disciplinary procedures when needed.

Transport managers usually work around 40 hours a week. This may include weekend and shift work to cover 24-hour operations. They may also be on call to deal with emergencies.

The working environment varies from offices and depots to being out on the road in all weathers.

Managers work closely with drivers and vehicles and may come into contact with fuel spillages, exhaust fumes and general road dirt. Some managers might occasionally lift heavy items. They may travel to meetings and other depots or to visit vehicles on the road, so a driving licence may be useful.

The starting salary for a road transport manager may be around £15,000 to £20,000 a year. In addition, allowances are paid for shift work and unsocial hours.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are more than 83,000 people employed as road transport managers. The industry is growing and there is currently a shortage of qualified managers.

Employers vary in size from small local companies to large national and international freight or passenger transport operators. Road transport managers are based throughout the UK, with South East and North West England having the largest number of road freight companies. Passenger transport operators are based throughout the UK.

Vacancies may be advertised in the local and national press, in Connexions centres and Jobcentre Plus offices, although some firms may recruit managers internally. Many larger companies recruit trainees at graduate level.

Education and Training

There are no specific entry qualifications for road transport managers. Entry to the industry is possible in several ways:

  • Through an Apprenticeship.
  • Into a junior management scheme which may require five GCSE's (A*-C), including English and maths.
  • With an HND, foundation degree or degree. Useful subjects include transport studies, logistics, business administration and business studies.
  • With a Masters degree in transportation management.

It is also possible to enter road transport through clerical work, administration, driving or warehousing or become a trainee manager after working in the road haulage business as a driver, clerk or supervisor. Some business and commercial awareness is important.

It is possible to take NVQ's at Level 2 in road passenger transport or, for road freight operations, in traffic office at Level 2 or 3.

Candidates may move into this area of work from management positions in other sectors.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Trainees usually study for a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), as every site operating a transport business has to have at least one person with this qualification. The CPC is designed for employees who have managerial or supervisory responsibilities and is equivalent to an NVQ at Level 3.

There are four types of CPC:

- National Road Haulage Operations
- International Road Haulage Operations
- National Passenger Transport Operations
- International Passenger Transport Operations

Training for these qualifications is available at many centres throughout the UK.

There are also NVQ's at Levels 3, 4 and 5 in transportation for professionals working at a strategic level.

It may be possible to study for a Transport and Logistics Certificate, Professional Diploma, Advanced Diploma or Masters degree with the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT). A specialist transport-related degree may give exemptions from some CILT examinations.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Road transport managers need:

  • Strong organisational skills for planning schedules, journeys and loads.
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • A high level of both spoken and written communication skills.
  • Good numeracy and IT skills for financial management.
  • Leadership and motivational skills.
  • Flexibility and the ability to make quick decisions.
  • To be good at working with people from diverse backgrounds.
  • The ability to work well under pressure and to tight deadlines.
  • To be self-motivated and able to work on their own initiative.

Your Long Term Prospects

There are opportunities to move between different types of company including logistics or distribution companies, parcel delivery firms, manufacturers, retail chains, car and van hire companies and contract fleets. It is also possible to specialise in other modes of transport such as rail, sea or air transport.

Within large multinational companies there are opportunities for managers to work overseas.

There are also opportunities for qualified and experienced transport managers in transport planning, consultancy and academic work.

Get Further Information

Careers in Logistics,
Langstone Technology Park,
Langstone Road, Havant,
Hampshire PO9 1SA

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK),
Earlstrees Court, Earlstrees Road,
Corby, Northamptonshire NN17 4AX
Tel: 01536 740100

GoSkills, Concorde House,
Trinity Park, Solihull,
West Midlands B37 7UQ
Tel: 0121 635 5520

Institute of Transport Administration (IoTA),
The Old Studio, 25 Greenfield Road,
Westoning, Bedfordshire MK45 5JD
Tel: 01525 634940

Skills for Logistics,
12 Warren Yard, Warren Farm Office Village,
Milton Keynes MK12 5NW
Tel: 01908 313360

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