Huang was born in Dafeng, Jiangsu. He graduated from Nanjing Navigation Engineering College in 1962 (later known as Shanghai Maritime University). In 1963 he was assigned to work in the Port of Qinhuangdao. By 1982, he was promoted to the head of administration at the Port. In 1985, he was named Vice Minister of Transportation. In 1988 he became President of the National Transportation Investment Company. In 1991 he became Minister of Transport.
In October 2002 he was transferred to work in Chongqing, a megacity on the western interior. In December 2005 he left his post to sit on the National People's Congress Internal and Judicial Affairs Committee. Between 2008 and 2013, Huang was the chair of the committee.
Huang was a member of the 14th, 15th, and 16th Central Committees of the Communist Party of China, and a Standing Committee member of the 11th National People's Congress.