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Transportation Engineer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Becoming a transportation engineer requires a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and degree requirements to see if this the right career for you.

Transportation engineers require a bachelor's degree in a related field. Master's degree programs are available and may be required for certain jobs or for career advancement. The job growth outlook for civil engineers is about as fast as average.

Essential Information

Transportation engineers focus on the design, construction and maintenance of transport systems. Most entry-level positions in the field will require a bachelor's degree in engineering, while advancement in the field may require a master's degree in the more specific discipline of transportation engineering.

The major focus of transportation engineers includes main thoroughfares and highways due to their overt use. Highway engineering, infrastructure design and the materials that make up local and national highways comprise important aspects of a transportation engineer's job. Though roads often require the most attention of engineers in this field, they may also work on railways, airports, seaports and canals.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in engineering
Other Requirements Some states may require licensure
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 8% (all civil engineers)
Median Salary (2016)** $63,566

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

Duties of a Transportation Engineer

Transportation engineers have various duties based on specific job levels. Engineers must be able to evaluate plans and proposals drafted by other engineers and make changes if necessary. Other common duties include analysis of schematics and engineering data, offering recommendations for traffic and driving policies, designing transit means and analyzing the effects of transit on urban areas. In addition, transportation engineers may oversee plans with contractors and calculate the overall costs for a project.

Transportation Engineering Requirements

Education Requirements

Most entry-level jobs in transportation engineering require a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. Some schools offer transportation engineering as an undergraduate degree focus or concentration. An accredited bachelor's degree program in civil or transportation engineering may last 4-6 years. Coursework often includes calculus, physics, chemistry, solid-fluid mechanics and thermodynamics, as well as professional studies in traffic control, optimization and environmental issues.

Advancement in the transportation engineering workplace may require a candidate to get a master's or doctorate degree. Unlike most undergraduate programs, graduate-level studies may offer a specific focus on transportation engineering. Professional courses may include pavement design, municipal infrastructure design or travel demand forecasting. Some schools offer specialized concentrations in highway engineering, traffic safety or urban development.

Work Experience and Licensing Requirements

Work experience varies according to employer and job level. In some instances, organizations or agencies may provide entry-level job training for new engineering graduates. Though specific requirements vary by state, all public transportation engineers require licensure, which consists of a 2-part proficiency test. Graduation from an accredited program qualifies workers to begin the licensing process, though several years' experience must be completed to earn full, professional licensure.

Career and Salary Information

Employment of all civil engineers, which includes transportation engineers, is expected to grow by 8% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also reported that the median salary for this group was $82,220 as of May 2015. As of January 2016, Payscale.com reports an annual median salary for transportation engineers of $63,566.

Besides a college degree, transportation engineers may be required to obtain state licensure. Requirements can vary, but full, professional licensure typically involves education requirements, work experience and passing a qualifying exam. Those in this field can expect a median annual salary around $64,000.


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