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The road to high wages: Transportation occupations

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What’s a good route to a career with high wages? Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that working in some transportation occupations might help you reach that destination.

The chart shows selected transportation occupations in which workers earned median annual wages that were higher than those earned by 75 percent of all workers in May 2009. The median annual wage—the point at which half of all workers in an occupation earned more than this amount and half earned less—was $33,190 in May 2009 for workers across all occupations.

College was not the most significant source of education and training for workers in most of the occupations in the chart. But all of the occupations required some type of formal training, work experience, or a combination of the two. Such requirements reflect the fact that workers in these occupations have complex job duties and are often responsible for travelers’ safety.

Prospects are good for these selected occupations. Most of them are expected to have faster than average employment growth over the 2008–18 decade. Employment growth for air traffic controllers, airline pilots, and rail conductors is expected to be about average over the same decade.

Wage data in the chart are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics program (online, see Data on education and training and projected job growth come from the BLS Employment Projections Program ( To learn more about these occupations, including detailed descriptions of their job duties, required education and training, and more, consult the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook, available in most libraries and online at

Median wages of workers in selected transportation occupations, May 2009

Median annual wages of selected transportation occupations, May 2009

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U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Last Updated: March 17, 2011