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Fleet manager responsibilities are increasing, and many of today's commercial fleet managers are no longer tactical, day-to-day employees. Commenting on this sea change, one fleet manager said, "the [fleet manager] job is truly being recognized as more of a strategic position, with a tremendous opportunity to impact bottom-line results, as opposed to operational."

Validating this assertion, Automotive Fleet's 2008 Biennial Salary Survey found 17 percent of commercial fleet managers earned more than $100,000 per year in 2008 (Chart 1).

Analyzing the higher fleet manager pay, one fleet manager said, "I think organizations are realizing the value of experienced fleet managers and are compensating them accordingly. Additionally, many managers have held their positions for extended periods and have had salary increases resulting from longevity."

Assessing from a different perspective, one fleet manager noted, "With a reduction in true, full-time fleet managers, the fleet responsibility is being given to experienced, tenured managers in other areas within the business, such as finance, HR, etc., who may be earning more than $100,000 because of their current position, not necessarily because of the fleet position."

In 2008, only 14 percent of fleet managers were paid less than $50,000. Overall, 83 percent of fleet managers surveyed received a pay increase in 2008 (Chart 2).

Of respondents who did not receive an increase, one fleet manager commented her company "did not provide pay increases for the first time in 99 years." Another fleet manager spoke of salary freezes in his company over the past two years.

Four percent of survey respondents reported a decrease in pay in 2008, while 13 percent reported no change.

Numerous Factors Influence Pay

Fleet managers who supervise two or less staff members receive a median annual salary of $62,500 compared to $87,500 for fleet managers supervising more than three staff members.

The number of vehicles managed also influences fleet manager salaries (Chart 4). Fleet managers who oversaw more than 1,000 vehicles reported the highest compensation, a median pay of $87,500.

Education also has an impact on a fleet manager's salary. The highest paid fleet managers surveyed completed some post-graduate study and received a median income of $97,500 (Chart 6). Fleet managers who received an MBA received the second-highest median income of $90,000.

Fleet managers who worked in the fleet industry for more than 20 years reported the highest median salary of $85,000 (Chart 7).

Reporting Department Affects Salary

As far as the department a fleet manager reports to, 14 percent of fleet managers report to the purchasing department in 2008 and received the highest median salary of $85,000 (Charts 9 and 10), followed by the transportation department at $75,000 per year, representing 10 percent of surveyed fleet managers. Fleet managers who reported to the sales department reported the lowest median salary in 2008 at $62,500 (2 percent of fleet managers surveyed).

The study also revealed 22 percent of surveyed fleet managers receive a company car with their position.

A slim majority of fleet managers (55 percent) reported fleet was their only responsibility in 2008 (Chart 12). Typical additional responsibilities include planning and managing meetings (16 percent), personnel relocation (6 percent), and travel services management (3 percent).

Fleet managers surveyed generally agreed responsibilities would increase in 2009 while pay would stay the same. One fleet manager commented her workload would increase "due to the increased number of units to manage, increased need for more sophisticated reporting to help field managers reduce fleet costs, reductions in fleet department head counts per vehicle, etc."

Another fleet manager said, "I think there is a great likelihood I will be assuming additional duties with no additional compensation. Everyone here is just thankful to have a job."

In contrast, one fleet manager noted she "did not envision increased responsibilities as our company has been aggressively outsourcing positions and responsibilities."

Fifty-nine percent of fleet managers surveyed in 2008 reported they spent 76-100 percent of their time on fleet (Chart 13), followed by 22 percent of fleet managers reporting only being able to spend 51-75 percent of their time on fleet management. Nineteen percent of fleet managers say they spent less than half their day on fleet management.

Fleet managers in the Midwest reported the highest median salary at $77,500 (Chart 15), while fleet managers in the East South Central region reported the lowest median salary at $60,000, followed by the Mountain region at $67,500.