How to become a transportation engineer

Last Updated on January 18, 2023

Transport engineers are highly intelligent and analytical individuals that work to design and engineer new transportation systems and infrastructures. A transport system is the idea of creating a route for people to easily move from one place to another. This may be done by car, plane, boat, or even foot. Transport engineers are the masterminds behind transporting people from point A to point B in ways that are efficient and convenient.

Becoming a Transport Engineer is a fulfilling career on so many levels. It gives you a chance to focus on designing new transportation infrastructures – such as airports, bridges, and highways. You will collaborate with a team of engineers and you’ll use data analysis to identify the impacts of everything from new buildings to traffic accidents.

Transport Engineers can be found in a number of settings, including national and local government departments, international or national transport companies, educational institutions (universities, colleges), and private consulting firms. In each of these organizations, Transport Engineers work in a variety of roles and situations.

Becoming a transport engineer is a challenging, but rewarding career. You will be working in a variety of settings such as design and consultancy firms, government offices, research institutes, or private corporations. Essentially what transport engineers do is analyze data, traffic flow and accidents. They build algorithms to accurately describe the behavior of vehicles and their interactions with the road system. However they also take into account economic concerns such as finances and vehicle capacity.

A Transportation Engineer is an engineer that designs or improves transportation systems to allow for safe and efficient traffic flow on roadways, airplanes, trains, ships, buses, and more.

What Does a Transportation Engineer Do?

Transport Engineers focus on designing new transportation systems and infrastructures, including highways, airports, trains, bridges, etc. They do this by analyzing data, identifying problems, and solving them with innovative solutions. Solving these complex problems typically requires the collection and evaluation of systems, traffic flow, accidents, costs, and other statistics. Transport Engineers may also be required to collaborate with other parties on certain projects, including utility companies and government departments.

Where Does a Transport Engineer Work?

Most Transport Engineers spend the majority of their workday in an office environment. They must be proficient in using various pieces of office equipment, including email, telephone, and various computer software programs. However, a Transportation Engineer may sometimes be required to visit construction sites to evaluate and oversee the progress of work. When working on site, they must be able to endure adverse weather conditions and noisy machinery. Transportation Engineers work full-time schedules, though many work overtime if they are involved in directing or overseeing projects.

Transportation engineers focus on designing new transportation systems and infrastructures, including highways, airports, trains, bridges, etc. Their goal is to analyze data, identify problems, and solve them with innovative solutions. Solving these complex problems typically requires the collection and evaluation of traffic flow statistics, accident data, costs associated with the project, and other relevant information.

What Is the Average Transportation Engineer Salary?

Transport Engineers earn an average of $79,340 a year. The lowest 10% make around $51,280, while the highest 10% earned around $122,020. Most Transport Engineers work for private architectural or engineering firms, with a smaller percentage working for the state and local governments.

StateTotal EmploymentBottom 25%Median SalaryTop 75%
District of Columbia1,110$68,580$84,820$101,450
New Hampshire1,100$57,080$70,180$84,850
New Jersey6,720$70,110$88,580$109,930
New Mexico1,190$61,220$75,020$89,480
New York12,800$67,520$82,750$105,140
North Carolina7,670$59,990$72,930$90,210
North Dakota950$55,460$68,810$84,850
Puerto Rico2,220$35,700$48,660$66,310
Rhode Island690$70,310$87,220$103,560
South Carolina5,920$51,600$70,940$95,320
South Dakota990$53,900$64,140$76,820
West Virginia1,290$49,690$65,980$81,710

Why Transportation Engineers are in demand & Why Transportation Engineering a good career option?                     

  • Demand and Supply Gap

Massive capital investment on transport infrastructure project is happening across the globe and it will continue to happen. There is a huge demand for skilled Transportation Engineers to fulfil the project resource requirement. and there is huge shortage of skilled Transportation Engineers.

  • Complex Tasks / Complex Technical Skills

Latest transportation software’s and modelling tools are very complex. Its needs advance level skillsets to run the model and get the output. Rapidly changing technology means you need to update yourself all the time. As a result, there is always a scope for newbies to chip-in,  break the status-quo and develop a better and more effective product and solution.

  • Variation

Transport Engineering jobs varied from modelling and simulation of one urban road junction to regional modelling of a metropolitan region covering multiple towns, so as the modelling tools. Means, you will have multiple options to excel your career within the transportation engineer sector.

As a transport planner, you can apply for professional tiles such as Chartered Transport Planner with the Transport Planning Society or the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.  These are well-recognised titles world over and significantly improve the possibility to become project manager, discipline leads, etc.

Transportation Engineer Educational Requirements

Transportation Engineer jobs are specialised skilled jobs, so the minimum requirement is a master’s degree in Transportation Engineering or Transportation Planning along with a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering or B. Planning or B.Arch.

Further study in Transportation Engineer like doctorate degree would surely enhance student’s profile and receiving an offer from a high-end cutting-edge employer would be very much possible.

What is the Average Transportation Engineer Salary?

The 2019 survey of suggests that the average salary of an entry-level Transport Engineer in the USA is $66,134. Although if you drill down to city and experience levels, it varies significantly. The salary structure of Transport engineers in other countries also stays in higher brackets, so overall the Transportation Engineering profession offers a decent salary package and exciting career opportunities.

Required EducationBachelor’s degree in engineering
Other RequirementsSome states may require licensure
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*6% (for all civil engineers)
Median Salary (2019)**$66,134 (for all transportation engineers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **

Where do Transportation Engineers work or Job Outlook of Transportation Engineers

Transportation Engineers mostly work in an office environment with a limited requirement of site visits to examine spots for automatic traffic survey counters or to familiarise with local traffic network of the project area or review black spots of road accidents, etc.

Transportation engineering consulting firms, transport software development firms, road safety audit firms, etc are potential employers of Transportation Engineers.

Global Job Opportunities:

Acquiring a degree or master’s degree from well recognised educational institutions is the preferred choice of many aspiring students as far as a global job opportunity is concerned. Having strong software capabilities of demanding transportation engineering software also opens various global job opportunity. Various multinational consulting firms also provide intracompany transfer opportunities to their employees from one country to others if a suitable candidate is identified.

Key Transportation Engineering Software’s:

  • Junction and Signal Design

Transport Research Lab, UK provides ARCADY, PICADY & OSCADY for the designing and modelling priority junctions, such as roundabouts and crossroads.

  • Arcady:

Arcady is designed for the assessment of roundabouts. It forecasts accident rates, size, queue and interruption for practically any size of the roundabout.


Picady envisages accident rates, sizes, queue lengths and delays (both queuing and geometric) at non-signalised major/minor priority junctions.

  • Oscady

OSCADY delivers assessment and optimisation of simple isolated signalised junctions. If shared with an ARCADY roundabout in Lane Simulation mode, it can also be used to assess partially signalised roundabouts.

  • Transit

TRANSYT controls optimum, synchronised traffic signal timings and is suitable for urban intersections and networks, signalised or unsignalled roundabouts and motorway intersections.

  • Traffic Control

TRL also offers design software for signal fittings, from the feasibility stage to managing the application, through to scheme commissioning.

MOVA is intended to cater for the variety of traffic situations, from very low flows through to a junction that is oversaturated. MOVA operates in a delay minimising mode; if any approach becomes overloaded, the system shifts to capacity make the best use of the procedure.

SCOOT is an actual and competent solution for controlling traffic on signalised road networks. By exploiting the use of live data from vehicle sensors, SCOOT rapidly regulates traffic signal settings to reduce vehicle interruptions. SCOOT replies rapidly to changes in traffic, but not so fast that it is wobbly; it avoids large variations in control performance as a result of provisional changes in traffic patterns.

LinSig is a complete design and modelling package for traffic signal junctions moreover individually or in a network of numerous junctions

  • Transport Planning and Land-use

CUBE – Cube is the only modelling platform that addresses all aspects of transportation planning, engineering, and land-use. With an open platform, Cube allows to size and regulate models of any type.

  • Economic Appraisal

HDM-4: The Highway Design and Maintenance Standards Model (HDM-III), developed by the World Bank, has been used for over two decades to combine technical and economic appraisal of road investment projects, standards and strategies. The International Study of Highway Development and Management (ISOHDM) has extended the scope of the HDM-III model to provide a harmonized systems approach to road management, with adaptable and user-friendly software tools. The new Highway Development and Management (HDM-4) system is the result of the study.

What Is the Job Demand for Transportation Engineers?

How To Become A Road Engineer

The job demand for Transport Engineers is expected to increase by 20% in the next 10 years, which is much faster than the average occupation. New jobs will be generated by an ever-growing population and aging infrastructure, which will require maintenance and perhaps complete revamping. In addition, the new interest in discovering and proliferating renewable energy resources will produce brand new transportation infrastructures in certain regions.

What Transportation Engineering Degree Options Exist?

Transport Engineers must have a bachelor’s degree from an ABET-accredited program in civil engineering at minimum. This is essential to obtaining licensure, which is required in all states. To obtain a license, most must pass several official examinations, participate in a few internships, and obtain adequate amounts of work experience.

Many Transport Engineers go on to obtain their master’s degree, which can be helpful for obtaining higher paying management positions.

Gain the Penn State advantage in engineering

Engineering and technology drive the changes and innovation taking place in every segment of society, including banking, manufacturing, medicine, aerospace, and defense. To be at the forefront of those changes and to have a competitive advantage over others, you need the knowledge and skills that employers demand. Penn State’s online engineering degree programs can give you that advantage.

Engineering Programs
Grad Engineering 2021
Nationally Recognized
Penn State’s online graduate engineering programs are highly ranked by the U.S. News & World Report Best Online Programs rankings.
Electrical Engineering (Master of Engineering)
Prepare for a broad range of electrical engineering careers by focusing on practical, hands-on course work developed by experts in the field. This online master’s degree program does not require GREs or a thesis.
Engineering Management (Master’s Degree)
Build your technical leadership skills in this cohort-based online master’s degree program that encourages collaborative learning and peer teamwork as you explore engineering management with world-class Penn State faculty.
Engineering Leadership and Innovation Management (Graduate Certificate)
Supplement your technical engineering skills with courses focused on communication, ethics, entrepreneurial thinking, and professionalism. This online certificate program was designed for working engineering professionals who want to prepare for leadership positions.
Mechanical Engineering (Master of Science)
Learn from faculty who are experts in their fields of study as you build your knowledge of research, analysis, and design in mechanical engineering. With limited formal course requirements, this online degree program lets you customize your plan to match your professional goals.
Nuclear Engineering (Master of Engineering)
Tailor this online master’s degree program to support your educational and professional goals. This nonthesis Penn State program offers a relevant and flexible nuclear engineering curriculum with course work developed by experts in the field.
Software Engineering (Master’s Degree)
Gain valuable experience in learning to develop cutting-edge approaches to creating, maintaining, and improving software systems. This cohort-based online master’s program mimics the remote-workplace environment often found in the global marketplace.
Software Engineering (Bachelor of Science)
This ABET–accredited online software engineering degree program is ideal for creative thinkers interested in coding and programming, mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Work with real companies during an industry-sponsored senior design project.
Systems Engineering (Master of Engineering)
Collaborate with your peers as you learn to identify, analyze, and manage complex systems and processes. This cohort-based online master’s degree program encourages systems engineering students to build ties and gain perspectives from their peers in other disciplines.

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