Transportation engineers design or improve transportation systems or parts of systems. They are analyzers, creators and explorers whose work facilitates safe and efficient traffic flow on highways, streets, railways, bridges, airports and commuter trains.
They must be adept at design thinking, problem solving, math, and AutoCAD. Communication, teamwork, project management are also key, as transportation engineers work closely with a variety of people, from contractors to utility companies and government agencies. Their responsibilites include designing or preparing plans and specifications for new transportation systems; planning modifications of existing infrastructure to improve traffic flow; checking construction plans, design calculations, or cost estimations to ensure completeness, accuracy, or conformity to engineering standards or practices; and designing or engineering drainage, erosion, or sedimentation control systems for transportation projects. They also prepare project budgets, schedules, or specifications for labor or materials and discuss plans, specifications, and work schedules with necessary parties.
Most transportation engineers work for private architectural or engineering firms, or for state and local governments. They generally work in a variety of locations and conditions, splitting their time between the office and at construction sites, monitoring operations or gathering data.
Entry-level jobs require a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering (with a concentration in transportation engineering, if available) as well as state licensure. Employment is projected to grow 6% by 2028 for all civil engineers, generated by the need to revamp aging transportation infrastructure as well as the interest in renewable energy sources that will produce new infrastructures in certain regions.