Although an $8.9-trillion industry, transportation careers are usually not among the best-paying.

According toZippia’s report, an average transportation worker makes about $30 per hour, which is still above average.

But with all the different job opportunities in all four transportation modes (water, air, rail, road) and salaries ranging from $30,000 to $150,000, it might be confusing to determine which ones are well-paying.

The following are lists of best-paying jobs in all transportation industries to give you an idea of average salaries in 2020.

Best-Paying Jobs in Air Transportation

With an average salary of $84,065, air transportation is the best-paying industry compared to road, rail, and water transportation. But on average, male workers in air transportation earn 5% more than their female counterparts.

Here are the three highest-paying jobs in air transportation.

1. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers. ($180,796)

An airline pilot’s hourly pay ranges from $20 to $50, making it the highest-paying job in the industry. A flight engineer, on the other hand, earns about $33 to $42 per hour.

2. Architectural and engineering managers. ($150,365)

Architectural and engineering managers in the aviation industry earn three times higher than an average US worker.

3. Flight attendants. ($50,249)

Despite being one of the most-specialized careers in the aviation industry, flight attendants earn less than a full-time worker’s annual wage. While the average yearly income in the US is $56,287, flight attendants make roughly $50,000.

Best-Paying Jobs in Rail Transportation

Overall, the railroad is the second best-paying industry in transportation. With an average yearly income of $78,031, railroad workers’ salary is 27.8% above an average American. However, the job growth is negative, and the future of careers is not promising.

Here are the top three well-paying jobs in railroad transportation.

1. Locomotive engineers and operators. ($93,362)

Operators and engineers make up 18% of the railroad transportation workers. They work up to 47 hours per week, earning $29 to $44.

2. Railroad conductors and roadmasters. ($75,939)

Railroad conductors in the US earn up to $27 per hour, while roadmasters in specific cities like San Mateo, CA, make up to $32.87. But it’s hard to get into these two careers because they occupy 18.6% of the whole employment in the railroad industry.

3. Railtrack laying and maintenance equipment operators. ($68,168)

With a 2.51% share in rail transportation occupations, rail-track laying and maintenance is not a common career. But in states like California, the hourly pay for these jobs can rise to $21.57.

Best-Paying Jobs in Marine Transportation

The average salary for water transportation jobs is $70,276. So, of all the four modes, marine transportation is the third best-paying industry. However, there’s a $5,000 gap between female and male workers, and the job’s growth rate is only 2.43%.

Although the pay is less than air and railroad transportation, this industry works longer hours. Full-time marine transportation workers are on duty for 51.7 hours per week, above the 34.40 average.

Here are the best-paying jobs in water transportation.

1. Maintenance and repair workers. ($115,757)

With a 0.89% share in the overall marine transportation occupations, Maintenance and repair workers are in demand. And they are among the top-earning workers in the industry.

2. Marine engineers and naval architects. ($102,439)

The average hourly wage for marine engineers is about $40. But depending on the state, it can get as high as $70. However, marine engineering and naval architecture are among the specialized jobs that are hard to get into.

3. Ship and boat captains and operators. ($95,394)

Boat captains and operators make $29.77 an hour.

Best-Paying Jobs in Road Transportation (Trucking)

Unlike other modes, there is not enough data on road transportation. But the latest numbers indicate that owner-operator jobs are still the best-paying ones.

1. Owner-operator trucking. ($221,000)

Owner-operators can earn anything between $221,000 up to $369,819 per year, especially in states like California.

2. Ice-Road driver. ($78,000)

Although a fairly dangerous occupation, ice-road trucking is among the top ten best-paying trucking jobs. Drivers could make up to $78,000 per season. But since it’s a seasonal job, the yearly salary can’t compete with that of the owner-operators.

3. Oversized-load driver. ($73,000)

Over-dimension loads create a profitable career for truckers. And the yearly wages vary from $73,000 up to $120,000.


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