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What Does a Port Manager Do?

Despite the decline in oil prices, the port and maritime industry remains strong and vital to the economy. Even with the growing number of vehicles on highways, shipping activity continues to increase.

Two factors are driving the surge in water transportation per Inside Energy. One is Mexico's increased demand for energy from the U.S. The second factor is the lifted ban on U.S. crude exports in 2016.

Port processes need to function better to handle the increased activity. This means improving productivity levels, according to "IHS Markit: Productivity Falters at World's Top 30 Container Ports." One cause is the time between arrivals and berthing, which has reached unacceptable levels. Fuel costs accrue for every hour a ship remains in port.

Increasing productivity levels requires changing the behavior, processes, and mindsets of terminal operators and shipping vendors. This puts port managers in a position to facilitate the needed improvements.

Maritime Industry Foundation states that a port or terminal manager is responsible for organizing and overseeing activities in a port. These activities involve loading and unloading ships, profit and loss management, operations efficiency, cargo storage and verifying that the port complies with regulations.

Some of the main tasks of the port manager include:

  • Organizing and managing staff to get work done according to organizational requirements.
  • Directing activities for dispatching, routing and tracking transportation.
  • Implementing transportation schedules or policy changes.
  • Being the point of contact for all workers.
  • Monitoring operations to ensure compliance with policies and procedures, safety rules, and related regulations.

In some positions, the responsibilities of a port manager could be limited to one aspect of port management. Such an aspect could be logistics, sales or compliance.

What Does It Take to Work in Port Management?

Typically, employees new to terminal or port management work in a specific area of a port before moving up into port management. O*Net Online reports that more than 40 percent of transportation managers have a bachelor's degree. The projected employment for transportation managers in Texas is expected to grow 20 percent by 2024 according to CareerOneStop.

The path to port management starts with a bachelor's degree in one of these fields:

  • Transportation administration.
  • Maritime or port management.
  • Business administration.
  • Transportation and logistics management.

In addition to knowledge of port management, successful port managers have the following skills:

  • Planning and coordinating.
  • Leadership and supervising.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Customer service.
  • Decision-making.

Most ports operate 24/7, which means the port or terminal manager may need to work off hours or in shifts. The work may be done in an office setting. Considering the job involves supervising port activities, it also requires a lot of standing and walking.

How Can I Learn More About Port Management?

Lamar University offers an online Introduction to the Port Management course. Students learn about the different areas of port management in privately and publicly owned and operated facilities. The course material delves into port governance and maritime industry structure.

This introductory course is part of the Master of Science in Port and Terminal Management online program at Lamar University. Earning an M.S. in Port Management requires completing 12 courses for 36 credit hours. Each course runs for eight weeks.

Students can complete the program in as few as 14 months. Students obtaining the degree gain a deeper understanding of operations management, logistics, project management, safety and risk assessment.

Learn more about the Lamar University Master of Science in Port and Terminal Management online.


CareerOneStop: Projected Employment for Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers in Texas

World Maritime News: IHS Markit: Productivity Slows Down at World's Top 30 Container Ports

Inside Energy: Oil Exports Bring Boom Times to Texas Port

Maritime Industry Foundation: Port Manager

O*NET Online: Summary Report for Transportation Managers

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