Transport Scheduler

The Job and What's Involved

Transport schedulers organise and plan so that trucks, buses or trains run efficiently and on time.

In the road transport industry, they organise vehicles and routes on a daily basis to ensure that deliveries to customers are completed quickly and efficiently. Their activities may include:

  • Scheduling and supervising vehicles.
  • Ensuring that all customer transport requirements are completed on time.
  • Making sure that all drivers have the correct documentation and equipment.
  • Maintaining a transport database, inputting all information accurately and on time.
  • Checking drivers' worksheets to ensure they keep within their allowed working hours.
  • Identifying new opportunities or improvements to the transport operation.
  • Analysing existing systems and developing new ones to improve efficiency.
  • Preparing staff rotas to ensure the best use of drivers.
  • Ensuring that vehicles are despatched fully loaded if possible.

Transport schedulers often support a transport manager or supervisor in the day-to-day running of the department.

Transport schedulers also work in road passenger transport, where they may ensure that buses leave the depot on time, properly staffed and equipped, and maintain the schedules according to the published timetables.

Schedulers may also work on railways, where they may be involved in preparing detailed timetables. Schedulers working as controllers ensure that trains arrive and depart on time across the network. They also handle any problems that might arise if train times are affected by breakdowns or accidents.

Transport schedulers liaise with other internal departments such as sales, procurement, warehousing and accounts. They may also have to deal with customer complaints resulting from transport problems and delays.

Transport schedulers usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, depending on the operation, they may have to work evenings and weekends, or be on call to deal with emergencies. Many large companies run 24-hour operations, and schedulers may have to work shifts.

They usually work in a warehouse or a traffic office. Offices are normally well equipped with computers and office machinery such as fax machines and photocopiers. They may also spend time in a despatch depot, dealing with drivers and supervising the despatch of vehicles. This may involve working outside for part of the time.

Starting salaries for transport schedulers may be around £15,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

About 1.7 million people work in logistics, which has grown to be the UK's fifth largest industry. Around 400,000 people work in the road transport sector, with a further 200,000 in the bus and coach industry. Most large logistics and distribution firms employ a transport scheduler.

Most transport schedulers work in the road freight industry. Employers are often delivery organisations, such as the Post Office and other companies offering mail services, which operate fleets of vehicles across the UK. Transport schedulers may also work for major retailers, wholesalers, and warehousing and distribution firms.

Transport schedulers working in the passenger transport industry may work for one of the national bus companies or one of the 31 train operating companies.

The Skills for Logistics website provides information and guidance on careers in transport and logistics.

Vacancies may be found on the websites of the larger transport and distribution organisations, in local newspapers and at Jobcentre Plus offices.

Education and Training

Formal qualifications are not always necessary, but employers generally expect a good standard of education, with GCSE's (A-C) or equivalent qualifications, including English and maths.

Some companies may offer Apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Transport schedulers are usually trained on the job under the supervision of a transport or distribution manager, or a more experienced colleague. During their training they may also work towards NVQs at Level 2 or 3 in a range of subjects relating to transport and distribution. These include NVQs in:

- Carry and Deliver Goods
- Distribution, Warehousing and Storage Operations
- Driving Goods Vehicles
- Mail Services
- Rail Transport Operations (Passenger Services)
- Road Passenger Transport
- Storage and Warehousing
- Traffic Office.

Depending on the nature of the job, they may also work towards NVQ's in administration, accounting and information technology.

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT(UK)) offers an introductory certificate which is designed for employees new to the profession or for students at secondary school or in further education. It provides a broad understanding of the integrated supply chain with relevance to movement of goods and people.

Also available is the Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC), which is a qualification recognised by the Department of Transport. It is designed to show that the individual has attained a set level of knowledge in the major areas of their profession.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Transport schedulers should:

  • Be good at planning and organising work schedules.
  • Have good forward-planning skills.
  • Have good spoken and written communication skills.
  • Be flexible when dealing with difficult situations.
  • Be good at analysing information.
  • Have good numerical skills.
  • Be able to prioritise their work and the work of others.
  • Feel comfortable working in a high-pressure environment.
  • Be accurate and pay attention to detail.
  • Be confident using computer packages, including spreadsheets.

Your Long Term Prospects

Transport schedulers may progress in the transport and distribution industries to a supervisory or management position, particularly if they have relevant vocational qualifications.

Get Further Information

The Chartered Institute of Logistics &
Transport, Logistics and Transport Centre,
Earlstrees Court, Earlstrees Road,
Corby, Northamptonshire NN17 4AX
Tel: 01536 740104
Website: www.ciltuk.org.uk

The Institute of Export,
Export House, Minerva Business Park,
Lynch Wood, Peterborough PE2 6FT
Tel: 01733 404400
Website: www.export.org.uk

Skills for Logistics,
14 Warren Yard, Warren Farm Office Village,
Milton Keynes MK12 5NW
Tel: 01908 313360
Website: www.skillsforlogistics.org

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