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Traffic Engineer: Job Description, Salary, Duties and Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a traffic engineer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Traffic engineers use their education and experience to design ground transportation. They are typically required to have a bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited program and a professional engineers license. Job growth for all civil engineers is slightly higher than the average for all occupations.

Essential Information

Traffic engineering is a branch of civil and transportation engineering. Traffic engineers apply principles and practices from these disciplines to design and construct roads, freeways, and other means of ground transportation. They typically have graduated from a civil engineering bachelor's degree program. Some employers may favor engineers who are licensed professional engineers (PEs).

Required Education Bachelor's degree from an ABET-accredited program
Other Requirements PE license
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 8% for all civil engineers*
Median Salary (2015) $82,220 for all civil engineers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for a Traffic Engineer

Entry-level traffic engineers may begin their careers by researching and planning traffic studies, including collecting data on road construction, land development, and traffic signals. Traffic engineers may use specialized computer software to analyze these studies, as well as simulate the effects of using different materials or signals. Although these professionals may perform some field work, most of their time generally is spent researching and analyzing information in an office setting.

Experienced traffic engineers may take on a project manager role and spend more time in the field or meeting with clients and government officials. These professionals review the work of technicians and less experienced engineers to ensure compliance with Department of Transportation regulations. Additionally, more experienced traffic engineers may analyze the environmental impact of proposed construction and check specifications for adherence to engineering standards.

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Salary for a Traffic Engineer

Salary.com, as of September 2016, noted that the middle half of transportation engineers with less than three years' experience earned between $48,454 and $57,580. The same site reported that the middle 50% of transportation engineers with 5-8 years' experience earned between $73,741 and $100,786.

Duties for a Traffic Engineer

Traffic engineers may act as consultants on projects, providing guidance in technical areas, such as which structural materials to use in an application. Engineers also may specialize in using computer software like AutoCAD, McTrans' Highway Capacity Software, and Trafficware's Synchro. Job postings sometimes indicate that additional duties may include writing technical reports on findings or making formal presentations on models and simulations.

Outlook for a Traffic Engineer

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), civil engineering jobs are expected to rise by 8% during 2014-2024 due to increasing infrastructure improvements. Job seekers who have earned a PE license by graduating from an accredited bachelor's degree program, accruing at least four years of work experience, and completing the required state licensing exams may have better employment opportunities.

The work of traffic engineers varies and can include spearheading land development projects, analyzing related studies, and simulating the effects of proposed materials or signals. A bachelor's degree and licensure is required. The median annual salary for all civil engineers was $82,220 in 2015.

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