What does a Transportation Engineer do?

Sara Schmidt

Railway, bus, highway, and airport systems are intricate infrastructures that require considerable planning and development. A person who designs these systems is known as a transportation engineer. Transportation engineers may work for a variety of sectors, including consulting firms, private businesses, universities, and government agencies.

Transportation engineers assess traffic patterns and make recommendations on how best to improve them.
Transportation engineers assess traffic patterns and make recommendations on how best to improve them.

Depending on his or her specialty, a transportation engineer may be responsible for specific tasks in one concentration only. People who study railroad systems may work only on rail services, while those who concentrate in traffic engineering exclusively may develop new roads and design traffic patterns. A transportation civil engineer who works in the general field may perform all of these tasks, as well as others.

A transportation engineer may spend much of her or his time working in an office setting.
A transportation engineer may spend much of her or his time working in an office setting.

Supervision of transportation construction and repair may be a task covered by transportation engineer jobs. Another duty may be to assist in teaching researchers or other teachers at the university level. Solving problems, such as creating alternative routes to congested traffic areas, is another specialty of the transportation civil engineer.

Transportation engineers may work for private companies and consulting firms, among other sectors.
Transportation engineers may work for private companies and consulting firms, among other sectors.

During road construction, engineers must make sure design plans and highway department standards are fully met. They also must be flexible, adapting to changes in plans when necessary and devising new strategies. They are responsible for calculating project costs, land availability, and local needs when planning a new transportation system. Constructing detailed proposals, following careful planning, and coordination is another job task of the transportation engineer.

Transportation engineers may work in office settings, though they often are required to work at construction sites as well.
Transportation engineers may work in office settings, though they often are required to work at construction sites as well.

Inspection following a completed project is usually a requirement of transportation engineer jobs. Engineers must ascertain whether or not completed subway, train, bus, road, and other systems are safe for drivers and passengers. Other job titles an engineer may carry include designer of transportation systems, construction supervisor, and project engineer.

Supervision of transportation construction and repair may be a task covered by transportation engineer jobs.
Supervision of transportation construction and repair may be a task covered by transportation engineer jobs.

Work conditions vary depending on the company and specific position. Engineers may work exclusively in an office setting, though usually they will be required to work at construction sites as well. An engineer should expect to work in all kinds of weather conditions. A forty-hour work week is typical, though overtime is often necessary.

A bachelor's degree in civil engineering is typically required to become a transport engineer.
A bachelor's degree in civil engineering is typically required to become a transport engineer.

To become a transport engineer, a bachelor's degree in civil engineering is typically required. A strong foundation in science, math, and computer systems is advisable. Other courses that can be helpful include communications, English, social sciences, political science, and business administration classes. Transportation engineers usually continue their education throughout their careers through various conferences, seminars, and conventions.

A transportation engineer can expect to have a considerable income on average. Engineers who obtain higher degrees can expect to make more money. Employment outlook for this position is considered good, as transport engineering is something that most societies require. As systems become more sustainable and technologically advances, more innovative transportation engineers are needed to help areas cope with change.

Transportation engineers may work closely with construction crews to design and build tunnels, bridges and other projects.
Transportation engineers may work closely with construction crews to design and build tunnels, bridges and other projects.

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Discussion Comments

anon999474

It would be nice if at least one road or freeway was properly designed. I don't think transportation engineers actually do work. They should hold their pay until they actually do some work and fix the roads. If you truly think about it, what is the purpose of having exits off highways right next to the merging of another freeway? All it does is cause accidents, traffic jams, etc..

Logicfest

Do they actually bother with transportation engineers here in the South? A lot of major roads look like they were designed by someone who was very drunk when putting together intersections, timing red lights, etc.

John F. Kennedy once negatively commented that Washington, D.C. had all the hospitality of a northern city and the planning of a southern one. He may have been right.

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