How to Become a Terminal Manager in the US

Terminal Manager ETV South Carolina

Whether you are travelling by road, rail, water or air, chances are high you will come across a terminal manager. This is the professional who works to enhance the efficiency of stations where freight and passengers are assembled or dispersed. If you are a competent planner who fancies a job in the transportation industry, read on!

What Do Terminal Managers Do?

The day-to-day duties of terminal managers include:

  • Coordinating the distribution of freight and boarding of passengers
  • Supervising a staff that may include terminal technicians and terminal guides
  • Investigating and resolving customer complaints
  • Investigating the causes of accidents at the terminal
  • Ensuring compliance to transportation laws and regulations
  • Developing strategies to improve terminal efficiency
  • Training employees on topics such as handling hazardous freight
  • Managing passenger traffic at the terminal
  • Providing assistance to passengers with special needs.

Work Environment

Since many terminals operate on a 24-hour schedule, expect to work on a shift basis. Although some terminal management tasks are accomplished in an office environment, you will spend most of your time on your feet supervising transportation activities.


Here is the average annual salary for terminal managers in the US:



Annual Wage

Terminal Manager



Source: Indeed

Education Requirements

The road to becoming a terminal manager begins in college, where you should pursue at least an associate’s degree in any of the following fields:

  • Transportation and logistics management
  • Business administration
  • Transportation administration.

Some employers may prefer job-specific degrees. For example, if you aspire to work as a terminal manager in an airport, you can improve your prospects by pursuing a degree in aviation management.

It is also possible to begin as a terminal operator and work your way up to terminal management with increase in experience.

Important qualities

Apart from transportation management knowledge, you will also need the following to excel as a terminal manager:

  • Excellent planning and coordinating skills
  • Strong organizing skills
  • Strong leadership and supervisory skills
  • An understanding of national and local transportation laws
  • Good problem-solving skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Good customer service skills
  • Good decision-making skills
  • Good business skills.

Career Advancement

After getting employed as a terminal manager, you will undergo on-the-job training to improve you familiarity with the company’s operations and transportation schedules. Thereafter, you can take the following steps to heighten your career progression prospects:

  • Pursue a relevant professional certification—If you work in a container port, for instance, you can earn the Professional Port Manager from the American Association of Port Authorities
  • Pursue a bachelor’s degree in transportation management or any other relevant field.

Job Opportunities

As a qualified terminal manager, you can be employed by:

  • Airports
  • Container ports/ shipping companies
  • Bus terminals
  • Rail terminals
  • Trucking companies

As you gain more work experience and obtain professional certifications and advanced degrees, you increase your chances of moving into a senior management position. This means that if you work as an airport terminal manager, you could become the overall airport manager.

According to the Occupational Information Network (O*Net Online), the employment of all transportation managers will grow from between 3 and 7 percent through 2022. The best employment opportunities will be available to individuals with a degree.

So if you are good at planning and coordinating, earn a relevant degree and this job might be yours.