Is A Career In Fleet Management Right For You?

Fleet management isn’t one of those careers that you hear a lot about at job fairs or business school seminars. However, it’s one of the more promising career routes for someone who is looking for a fun, rewarding, and fast-paced job environment. 

What is a Fleet Manager?

According to Indeed.com, “Fleet managers are transportation professionals who specialize in the logistics of safe, reliable and efficient transport. They lead a team of drivers for a variety of employers, including corporations, manufacturers, government agencies and many others.”

Fleet managers are responsible for handling a variety of tasks, including:

  • Purchasing new vehicles for the fleet within budget constraints
  • Overseeing vehicle maintenance, including preventive maintenance, to maximize the life of fleet vehicles
  • Building out the proper maintenance facilities and/or contracting with the right shops
  • Hiring and training drivers and maintenance staff
  • Supervising drivers to ensure they follow specific safety guidelines
  • Optimizing routes, vehicles, and driving habits for optimal efficiency
  • Complying with laws and policies outlined by the U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Reporting to upper management

Fleet managers can work in any number of settings. There are fleet management positions in large public companies, private companies, and government agencies. Almost every industry has fleet management roles available. This provides flexible options for those who want to make a career out of fleet management.

How to Become a Fleet Manager

There’s no concrete path or formula for becoming a fleet manager. Unlike certain industries, like law or healthcare, the path is a little more open for interpretation. Having said that, there are certain things you can do to get your foot in the door.

  • Education. Most companies will require a minimum of an associate’s degree in order to apply for fleet management positions. However, you’ll find that having a bachelor’s degree makes you a much more competitive candidate. Degrees in logistics, business administration, automotive technology, and accounting are helpful. 
  • Training. The traditional route to becoming a fleet manager involves interning or obtaining an entry-level job in fleet operations. This provides some of the initial experience needed. It also helps you gain the inside track within a company.
  • Certifications. There are certain certifications that can help you strengthen your resume and get noticed by companies that are hiring fleet managers. This includes a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) Certifications (such as the Certified Automotive Fleet Manager designation), Certified Public Fleet Professional (CPFP), and North American Transportation Management Institute (NATMI).

Tips for Building a Successful Career

While there are some technical aspects of getting your foot in the door – including the ones highlighted above – there’s also the “soft” side of building a career. In other words, you also have to prioritize:

  • Networking. As the old saying goes, it’s not what you know but who you know. This definitely rings true in the world of fleet management. Once you have all of your basic education and certifications in place, it becomes a career of building your network and leveraging experience to find new opportunities for growth. 
  • Skill stacking. The most successful fleet managers are the ones who are committed to constant and never-ending improvement. If you want to be in the upper echelon of this industry, you must do the same. One suggestion is to master your familiarity with technology. Fleet maintenance software is the way of the future. If you know how to get the most out of it, you’ll never hurt for opportunities. 
  • Time. This is very much an industry where experience plays a role in hiring. No large company is going to hire a fleet manager who only has a year or two of experience. It doesn’t matter how well you ace the interview or what credentials are on your resume – there’s no replacement for time in this industry. Part of building a successful career as a fleet manager is putting in that time and working hard to gain the experiential knowledge it takes to become a highly respected professional. Whether this is right or wrong, who’s to say? Nevertheless, it’s how things work in this profession.

Adding it All Up

The role of fleet manager isn’t for everyone. It can be highly stressful and the work often goes unnoticed and underappreciated by management. Having said that, it can be a very rewarding career for those who like to see tangible evidence of the work they put in. Thanks to all of the advanced analytics and tracking that is now available, you know without a doubt when things are working. 

Data from Indeed shows that the average salary for a fleet manager is somewhere around $61,000 in the United States (with top fleet managers in large organizations getting paid as much as $120,000 per year). So if you’re looking for competitive work that provides a nice living, this is definitely a career worth pursuing!

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