What Does a Transport Engineer Do?

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  • Written By: K. Kinsella
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2019
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A transport engineer develops new ways to move people and goods over varying distances. Some engineers also work to enhance existing technology and transportation methods in order to improve efficiency and safety standards. Many transportation engineers are employed by national or municipal governments while others work for manufacturing firms or transportation providers. Transportation engineer jobs are found all over the world, although jobs in this field are more numerous in industrialized nations as well as major metropolitan areas.

Typically, a transport engineer has a college degree in civil or mechanical engineering. Civil engineering students learn about urban planning and civic infrastructure. Mechanical engineers learn how to create and operate the different types of machinery found on boats, airplanes or trains. Some engineers begin work as mechanics but take on basic engineering jobs after several years working in junior less-skilled positions.

Civil engineers work alongside urban planners and design roads for urban areas. In congested metropolitan areas, engineers have to design bridges and multi-level roads that are strong enough to safely transport large volumes of traffic. Engineers make scale models of proposed road and bridge designs and calculate the pressure that different types of structures can withstand. Civil engineers employed by government entities have to try and keep costs to a minimum without compromising safety.


Municipal governments often employ transport engineers to work on specific vehicles such as trains and buses. A transport engineer has to conduct regular safety inspections to ensure that train tracks, roads and waterways are in working order. When structural problems are detected, the transport engineer has to propose solutions to address the issues in the least expensive and least disruptive way. Engineers, who are assigned to particular vehicles, have to fix mechanical problems although basic issues are often dealt with by mechanics rather than transport engineers.

Transportation firms and companies that manufacturer airplanes, boats and trains, employ transport engineers who are responsible for developing new types of vehicles and transportation systems. In many instances, teams of engineers work together to develop prototypes of new vehicles. Test vehicles are created and analyzed, although only the most reliable and cost-efficient vehicles are ever manufactured.

Some experienced transport engineers are self-employed or work alongside other engineers in small firms or partnerships. These freelance engineers often develop new technologies which are sold to manufacturing firms. Other private engineers are recruited on a contract basis to work for municipal governments. In many instances, governments choose to cut overall costs by contracting freelance engineers rather than retaining full-time civil engineers on the city payroll.


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