Army Cargo Specialist

Army Cargo Specialist (MOS 88H): Career Details

Army Cargo Specialist (MOS 88H) are responsible for transferring or supervising the transfer of passengers, cargo and equipment.

Cargo Specialist complete transfers to and from, land, air and water.

These specialist ensure that troops receive the supplies, weapons, equipment and mail needed for operations.

Qualifications and Training

To enter into the Cargo Specialist MOS individuals must take the ASVAB and receive a minimum score of 88 on the General Maintenance portion.

After all entry testing, recruits will head to Basic Combat Training for 10 weeks.

Soldiers will then attend Advanced Individual Training for 8 weeks.

Advanced Individual Training includes classroom and field instruction with skills gained in operation, techniques and safety procedures of cargo loads/unloads.

Skills that are helpful in this Army MOS:

  • Interest in business mathematics
  • Heavy Machinery experience
  • Interest in working in locations such as airports, seaports and ocean beach terminals
  • Enjoy a job involving physical work

 Related Article: 10 Pros and Cons of Joining the Army

What Does a Cargo Specialist Do?

Army Cargo Specialist MOS 88H
Army Cargo Specialist lift a transport case during training. Image:

Cargo Specialist work day and night to ensure that Army personnel receive shipments in a timely manner.

These shipments contain everything from medication to letters from home.

They are responsible for manually and mechanically receiving/shipping supplies, weapons, equipment and mail.

Soldiers in this MOS operate heavy machinery and must be comfortable safely using forklifts, power winches, container handlers and cranes.

Specialist both operate and maintain the equipment they use.

Using proper techniques, soldiers will load and unload supplies and equipment.

This may require loading and unloading from ships, beaches, docks, boxcars, railheads, vehicles, aircraft and warehouses.

Soldiers will move containers, load containers onto other transportation methods and also load/offload the product inside of containers.

Another job function of the specialist is to hook up cargo to be lifted and guiding that operation.

When loading or offloading from a vessel, the specialist will be required to operate ocean liner vessel equipment.

Specialist ensure the proper storage of the cargo and that all cargo is secured for transport.

When completing transfer operations specialist will inspect, count and document cargo.

They ensure that the correct equipment, in the correct amount, are in each shipment and manifest.

Information will be documented using manual and automated data processing systems.

Specialist plan and schedule cargo shipments.

They will create load plans for air shipment and ocean liner vessels.

In the event that there is dangerous cargo, specialist will ensure that they, as well as all unit members, follow all safety procedures.

They will contact the next destination, coordinate onward movement and ensure special cargo handling equipment at the next destination.

Specialist handle communications activities and provide guidance for other personnel.

They prepare training programs, tactical plans and training materials.

Specialist can help with the transfer of passengers in addition to cargo.

The Army Recruiting video below provides more information on job duties.

What Does a Cargo Specialist Get Paid?

This position is entry level and provides soldiers with pay based on rank and time of service.

Unless recruits have a prior Military background or formal education, they can generally expect to start out with $20,000 a year in base income.

There are other opportunities to add to this income with recruiting bonuses, special pay and benefits.

Recruits can earn a recruiting bonus with this position for shipping to training quickly and earn special pay for certain situations such as deployment.

View the below table for Army pay.

InsigniaPay GradeRankAbbreviationMinimum Monthly Pay
E-1 +4 monthsPrivatePVT$1,917.60
E-2Private Second ClassPV2$2,149.20
army e 3 insignia - pfcE-3Private First ClassPFC$2,259.90
army e 4 insignia - specialistE-4SpecialistSPC$2,503.50
army e 4 insignia - corporalE-4CorporalCPL$2,503.50
e-6E-6Staff SergeantSSG$2,980.50
E-7Sergeant First Class SFC$3,445.80
army master sergeant iconE-8Master SergeantMSG$4,957.20
E-8First Sergeant 1SG$4,957.20
E-9Sergeant MajorSGM$6,055.50
E-9Command Sergeant MajorCSM$6,055.50
e 9 sergeant major of the army insigniaE-9Sergeant Major of the ArmySMA$6,055.50


The Army provides benefits that help the soldier in areas that most civilian careers do not.

They provide housing and food to those living on base.

They also provide a Military Clothing Allowance and tuition assistance.

Other Army benefits:

  • Medical and Dental
  • Paid sick time
  • 30 days paid vacation
  • Low-cost life insurance

Related Article: Army Tactical Power Generation Specialist (MOS 91D): Career Details

Job Reviews

Most reviews of the position are positive.

The overall rating on this position was a 4.4 with Work/Life Balance being the lowest scoring category.

Soldiers who have been in this position state that the position can be busy one day and slow the next.

Cargo Specialist who left positive reviews mention benefits, career advancement, ability to learn and education opportunity as pros for the position.

Specialist who left negative reviews discuss the amount of time away from home and leadership as cons.

The review below provides job duties of the Cargo Specialist.

Image: Indeed

The review below provides positive aspects of the position.

Army MOS 88H
Image: Indeed

Related Article: Army Ammunition Specialist (MOS 89B): Career Details

Civilian Career Opportunities

Cargo Specialist work with heavy duty equipment in a variety of areas that allows for civilian career opportunities with trucking companies, air cargo and shipping lines.

The experience with equipment offers civilian careers as a truck operator, industrial worker or material handler.

Cargo planning and checking skills equate to civilian careers as Logistics Coordinators or cargo checkers.

Skills earned working on vessels allows soldiers to gain experience that helps with stevedore or longshoreman potential career opportunities.

Through the Army’s COOL program, Cargo Specialist can gain credentials in Rigger certification, crane operations, safety and more related areas.

These credentials assist with Army promotion points and leads to more civilian career opportunities.


Cargo Specialist MOS 88H
Army Cargo Specialist preparing to hook a loader to a container. Image:

Army Cargo Specialist (MOS 88H) transfer and supervise shipments that hold supplies, weapons, equipment and mail.

These soldiers work to ensure passengers, cargo and equipment are safely and accurately transferred.

This position requires basic entry testing including scoring requirements on the General Maintenance portion of the ASVAB.

The entry-level position provides soldiers with base pay, benefits and allowances.

Previous Cargo Specialist recommend the position for the skills learned and opportunities to advance.

Civilian career opportunities related to this position include jobs in shipping, trucking and vessel operations.

Related Article: Army Chaplain Assistant (MOS 56M): Career Details


Army Transportation Corps

Army MOS 88H Career Details


Zach B.

Originally posted on 11/05/19

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