Job Family: Transportation, Supply, and Logistics Cargo Specialists
Services Offering this Occupation
Army  | Navy  | Air Force  | Coast Guard  | National Guard

Photo 1: Cargo specialist moves ordnance. Photo 2:
Cargo specialist drives forklift to transport supplies.

Short Description
The military delivers supplies, weapons, equipment, and mail to United States forces in many parts of the world. Military cargo travels by ship, truck, or airplane. It must be handled carefully to ensure safe arrival at the correct destination. Cargo specialists load and unload military supplies and material using equipment such as forklifts and cranes. They also plan and organize loading schedules.


What They Do
Cargo specialists in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Load supplies into trucks, transport planes, and railroad cars using forklifts
  • Load equipment such as jeeps, trucks, and weapons aboard ships, using dockyard cranes
  • Pack and crate boxes of supplies for shipping
  • Inspect cargo for damage
  • Plan and inspect loads for balance and safety
  • Check cargo against invoices to make sure the amount and destination of material are correct

Helpful Attributes
Helpful school subjects include general office and business mathematics. Helpful attributes include:
  • Interest in working with forklifts and cranes
  • Preference for physical work

Training Provided
Job training consists of classroom instruction, including practice in loading cargo. Further training occurs on the job. Course content typically includes:
  • Operation and care of forklifts, power winches, and cranes
  • Techniques for loading and storing cargo
  • Techniques for planning and scheduling cargo shipments
  • Safety procedures for handling potentially dangerous cargo

Work Environment
Cargo specialists work outdoors on loading docks and indoors in warehouses.


Civilian Counterparts
Civilian cargo specialists work for trucking firms, air cargo companies, and shipping lines. They perform duties similar to military cargo specialists. Depending on specialty, they may also be called industrial truck operators, stevedores, longshoremen, material handlers, or cargo checkers.

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