Becoming a Traffic Technician
Traffic technicians study the data surrounding traffic flow and volume in order to increase the effectiveness and use of roadways. These professionals might also be called traffic control technicians or traffic engineering assistants. Their duties may be different from those of traffic signal technicians or maintenance workers, who are responsible for physically repairing damaged signals. Traffic technicians analyze data related to traffic flow, draw up proposals for new traffic lights or signs, design methods to improve traffic in congested areas, prepare work orders for new traffic signals, and work to improve traffic control systems. Many work hours might be spent seated at a desk in front of a computer.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field(s)||Civil engineering, engineering technology|
|Key Skills||Data analysis, programming, and computer-aided design|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2015)*||$43,930 (for traffic technicians)|
Sources: O*Net OnLine, *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Earn a Degree
A few different types of degree programs can prepare students for a career as a traffic technician, including those in civil technology or engineering-related fields. Students who earn a bachelor's degree instead of an associate's degree may be able to obtain higher-level technician positions without gaining additional experience.
As a student, consider taking courses in mathematics or computer science. Traffic technicians are required to understand concepts of design and have the ability to analyze data. Courses in mathematics can help students learn more about these areas. Other suggested courses include those in materials, drafting, structures, and highway technology.
Step 2: Gain Experience
Some state and local governments offer different levels of traffic technician positions. The entry-level positions are often available for those individuals who have little or no experience and who may need to work under the supervision of a traffic engineer. As traffic technicians gain experience, they can move up to more advanced levels, with a greater range of assignments and less supervision from senior-level employees.
Step 3: Gain Specialized Skills
In order to advance in the field, traffic technicians should work on acquiring skills while in entry-level positions. For example, the Michigan Civil Service Commission notes that some of these skills might include mastery of drafting instruments and tools, familiarity with traffic design procedures and policies, and the ability to carry out technical instructions.
So, those interested in a career as a traffic technician should prepare to earn a bachelor's degree in an engineering-related field and take courses in field such as data analysis, drafting, or even highway technology in order to analyze traffic data, traffic flow, speed, volume, and congestion and then design ways to improve traffic flow or even design new traffic systems.