Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics

If you’re interested in any form of transport – be it air, land or sea – and have a head for mass production, then the manufacturing, transport and logistics industry could be just the fit for you!

In Australia, where a high percentage of the materials produced and sourced are exported internationally, the manufacturing, transport and logistics industry is crucial in meeting demand and ensuring Australia remains a strong player in the global economy.

This industry is responsible for the safe production, transport and delivery of a wide variety of goods – both nationally and internationally. It encompasses a variety of transport channels, including:

  • Storage and warehouse sorting
  • Freight transport
  • Heavy and/or dangerous goods transport
  • Marine and aviation transport
  • Scenic or sightseeing transport

The industry also encompasses logistics which includes:

  • Managing and organising transport, nationally and internationally
  • Transport infrastructures, such as roads, air and rail
  • Customs
  • Couriers, drivers and delivery personnel

Within the manufacturing side of the business, you could be involved in:

  • Production and assembly of parts or goods
  • Quality assurance and checks
  • Machine handling, including heavy-goods machinery such as forklift trucks
  • Maintenance and engineering

The industry as a whole is like one big, well-oiled machine, with every single individual playing a vital role in its success. Although each of these segments stands along in its own right, it’s the intersection of these key sectors that creates one incredible industry accumulatively.

Whether coordinating the production and transport of a high volume of goods or a small scale delivery of niche products – every person working in the sector has a valuable role to play.

If you’re someone who enjoys a fast-paced, hands-on working environment, with plenty of routine alongside problem-solving, a career in manufacturing, transport and logistics could be the right place for you.

What You Could Do

Roles across the industry are highly varied and include a mix of low-skilled, entry-level positions, highly-skilled roles, and professional roles requiring specialised knowledge.

Here’s a look at some of the top jobs you could pursue:

  • Couriers and Delivery Drivers: Couriers and delivery drivers are the final point in delivering an item or items in the full logistics supply chain. They’re responsible for getting parcels, packages, and deliveries to their destination securely, and safely. Couriers and delivery drivers may work for extensive warehousing and manufacturing organisations or independent delivery services contracted by other organisations. The role is often fast-paced, with a degree of customer service and problem-solving.
  • Crane and Hoist Operators: Crane and hoist operators have a specialised skill set in safely managing heavy-duty machinery to move large items. This might include large pallets of products or shipping containers onto aircraft or ships designed explicitly for large-scale shipping and freight. These workers need resilience, patience and a keen eye for detail to ensure they work quickly and smoothly and get deliveries ready to go on time.
  • Freight or Cargo Handler: Freight and cargo handlers load and unload trucks, containers and trains, and transfer cargo between ships and other forms of transport and storage facilities. It may also require cross-referencing deliveries against an inventory to ensure everything is where it should be. These are typically entry-level roles where you can work your way up to senior management. The position requires attention to detail, teamwork, excellent communication skills and time management.
  • Importers, Exporters and Wholesalers: Importers, exporters and wholesalers plan, organise, direct, control and coordinate the operations of importing, exporting and wholesaling establishments. The role usually requires some formal qualifications and specialist knowledge, especially regarding customs and international export.
  • Production Assemblers: A vital role within manufacturing, production assemblers put together components and subassemblies that go into the production of metal products, electrical and electronic equipment, construction and joinery products – to name a few! The role is typically entry-level with lots of scope to grow professionally and work up into management roles.
  • Supply and Distribution Manager: Supply and distribution managers plan, organise, direct, control and coordinate the supply, storage and distribution of goods, products and services produced and used by organisations. They usually oversee a warehouse or several warehouse facilities across a location and take responsibility for ensuring deliveries go out and are received on time across multiple locations. They may also review reports and analyse data to understand market trends and make decisions on future supply, demand and distribution needs across their chosen sector. The role typically requires some formal qualifications and specialist knowledge.

These job roles are only just scratching the surface!

The best way to learn more and help form decisions about the roles available and what you might be suited for is to conduct as much research as you can and build a profile from there.

Graduate Outcomes & Gender Split

While a degree isn’t crucial for every role or career pathway into the industry, it can help to know what employment from this route looks like.

The Graduates Outcome Survey tracks graduate employment across different industry sectors.

Here’s a look at some graduate outcomes for engineering and related technologies:

  • Engineering and Related Technologies Graduates in Full-Time Employment: 83%
  • Engineering and Related Technologies Graduates in Employment Overall: 87.6%

Keep in mind that this doesn’t account for graduates working part-time and/or who may have continued to higher studies; these are promising percentages!

*Figures from 2020 survey results.

Gender Split

The gender split across the industry depends on the segment of the sector you work within. The agricultural and horticultural industry has typically been very male-dominated, but this is beginning to shift.

Recent statistics indicate the split for manufacturing and production-based roles are:

  • 29% Female
  • 71% Male

Recent statistics indicate the split for transport and logistics roles based roles is:

  • 20% Female
  • 80% Male

Average Salary

Current surveys in the sector indicate the median salaries for full-time roles in this industry as:

  • Couriers and Delivery Drivers: $42,000-$57,000
  • Crane and Hoist Operators: $63,000-$86,000
  • Wholesale Managers: $71,300-$85,000
  • Production Assemblers: $51,200-$68,900
  • Production Managers: $86,800-$127,000

Salaries can be pretty varied, with lower expectations for entry-level roles.

Salaries are also determined by several factors, including:

  • The segment of the industry you work within.
  • Your job title and seniority.
  • The amount of experience you have.
  • Location, some rural areas may pay less than roles in main cities.

Industry Growth

According to the Australian Skills and Industry Committee, the manufacturing, transport and logistics industry employs more than half a million people across its major sectors. Growth in the industry has only continued to increase, and as Australia maintains a strong reputation in the global economy, this is not expected to change.

While employment in the industry remains strong, there have been some top priority skills identified for anyone seeking to build a sustainable career in transport and logistics. These include:

  • Health and safety qualifications
  • Compliance knowledge
  • Digital skills

The priority occupation skill is driving, with the most advertised job roles being bus and coach Drivers, followed by appropriately licenced truck drivers.

A skills shortage has also  been identified in the following roles:

  • Heavy vehicle drivers
  • Drivers (general)
  • Educators, trainers and assessors
  • Warehousing
  • Management

The most recent data collated by the Australian Skills and Industry Committee has identified three new industry workforce skills developments that also need to be considered as the sector continues to grow.

These predominantly relate to the emergence of new technologies and automation, including:

  1. Automated logistics and warehouses: Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and technologies, robotics can minimise labour and optimise warehouse operations.
  2. Automated guided vehicles (AGVs): These can be used to perform pallet transport, storage and retrieval and drones for stocktaking and inventory management.
  3. Digital supply chain: Data analytics and artificial intelligence can assist organisations shift to data-driven decision making by predicting orders based on previous customer behaviour.

These new skill areas should be seen as opportunities for renewed skill growth across new and existing workers in the industry. As new technologies emerge, some traditional roles may no longer continue, but it means new roles can be created to continue to support the industry and existing workforce.

Qualifications and Entry Pathways

For some professional roles, a bachelor degree can set you up well with the foundation of theory and knowledge to help you build a successful career in the industry.

Degree pathways you could pursue include:

  • Bachelor of Transport and Logistics
  • Bachelor of Transport Management
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical)
  • Bachelor of Science (Advanced)
  • Bachelor of Global Logistics
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (Nautical)

For some pathways, vocational education and training (VET) courses can offer specialised and valuable springboards into manufacturing and transport careers in particular.

Relevant qualifications you could pursue include:

  • Certificate II in Logistics
  • Certificate III in Driving Operations
  • Certificate IV in Driving Operations
  • Certificate II in Warehousing Operations
  • Certificate III in Warehousing Operations

Other pathway options might include:

  • Scoring an apprenticeship or traineeship: You can start a school-based apprenticeship or traineeship from Yr 9 and work to gain industry-specific qualifications alongside your certificate of education and work experience.
  • Work experience once you leave school: If you leave school at 16, you can apply for work experience and school-leaver programs in entry-level positions and work your way up over time. Many organisations will also support you to gain further professional qualifications. You’ll need a robust skill set and good grades in Maths and English as a minimum.

Requirements will depend on the type of role you want and the company – so make sure you do some research.

Whatever your circumstances, grades or preferred way forward – there’s a qualification pathway that will work for you.

Best Places to Study

Where you choose to study will be dependent on a range of factors, but some universities are rated higher than others for specific subjects.

Some of the best-rated universities for transport and logistics studies include:

  • University of Sydney’s Institute of Transport and Logistics
  • University of Adelaide
  • Swinburne University of Technology
  • University of Technology Sydney
  • Edith Cowan University
  • University of Canberra
  • Griffith University

Where to Learn More

You can find out more about different pathways through professional bodies and organisations advocating for careers in the sector.

Some good places to start include:

And many more!

Each state will also have several professional organisations that can help you learn more about the industry, network, and develop your career.