InTrans / May 08, 2017

Transportation & me: A traffic planner

Go! Magazine

Traffic at nightposted on May 8, 2017

Is working in the transportation industry the right career path for you? Before you answer, consider this: There may be jobs and opportunities out there that you haven’t even thought of yet.

One exciting transportation-related career is that of a traffic planner, or, in other words, a “logistical” planner. In essence, these are the “problem solvers” in the world of transportation, often having to troubleshoot moving large groups of people in a short period of time.

There are many factors involved in that kind of planning, like challenges related to geography, security, customs, or culture. Traffic planners come in handy for special events like the Olympics or Super Bowl, and in times of severe weather, among other events and traffic-related issues.

Transportation and you

Do you have what it takes?

Heavy traffic and freeway backups
Heavy traffic and freeway backups. Photo from FEMA photo library.

Some important qualities to have when considering this field are analytical, communication, decision-making, management, and writing skills.

You’d need to analyze information and data from a variety of sources, like censuses and environmental impact studies. You’d need to be able to communicate clearly and effectively. You’d combine analysis, creativity, and realism to choose the appropriate action or plan.

The basics

Do you possess the qualities it takes to be a traffic planner? If so, what kind of education and experience do you need to do the work?

To start, you may need a bachelor’s degree in planning, civil engineering, or a related field. Typically, you’ll also need at least a few years of transportation planning experience. They might prefer you have a master’s degree or planning certification. In 2015, there were 72 programs that offered a master’s degree in planning in the United States.

You can earn your certification as a professional transportation planner one of two ways: as a Certified Transportation Planner (CTP) through the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) or as a Professional Transportation Planner (PTP) through the Transportation Professional Certification Board, an autonomous body affiliated with the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

Some details

Now, let’s take a closer look. What would the work environment be like? What’s the salary?

As a general transportation planner, you might work in local government, attending local meetings with different neighborhood groups on evenings and weekends. You might also work for a state government or private company. You’d might work in a large, metropolitan area and travel to different development sites.

As a more specific type of transportation planner, traffic planners earn a median salary of about $76,000 per year in the US. Salaries range from $45,000 on the starting end and go up to $118,000 annually on the high end. You’d work normal business hours, though one in five planners worked more than 40 hours a week in 2014.

Employment for planners is projected to grow six percent between 2014 and 2024, at an average speed, with factors like population growth, economic conditions, and environmental concerns driving the employability of planners.

Defining “different”

Working in the transportation field as a traffic planner, especially if you’re getting to plan around high-stake events, seems to be anything other than an ordinary transportation career. You’d have the potential of doing something totally out of the ordinary!

Crowded parking at special event
Crowded parking at special event. Photo from pixabay.

To increase your odds of getting the right traffic planning career, getting certified might be your next “planned” step.

So, what do you think? Could you plan the traffic routes around a music festival? Or maybe plan the traffic around the Super Bowl, 10 years from now? Or maybe another career in transportation is more your style? This month, check in to check out other careers in the ever-expanding world of transportation!


Related links

Browse traffic planning-related jobs:

By Hannah Postlethwait, Go! Staff Writer

Go! Magazine Article Index