How To Become a Transportation Engineer: A Complete Guide

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 11 August 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Transportation engineers plan, design and construct transportation facilities, such as roadways, waterways, bridges and airports. These professionals mainly focus on the safety and efficiency of transportation systems. Knowing more about this career path can help you understand what transportation engineering is and determine whether this field is right for you. In this article, we discuss how to become a transportation engineer, what these professionals do, how much they earn and what skills and qualities they need to become successful in this career.

What Is Transportation Engineering?

Transportation engineering is a branch of civil engineering that uses the latest tools, technologies and scientific principles to create advanced transportation systems. These systems can then facilitate faster and safer movement of traffic on roads, railways and airways. Any product or system that moves people and goods from one place to another can fall under the scope of transportation engineering.

Most transportation engineers are employed by government and state agencies and private consulting firms, but some also work as teachers and researchers in colleges and universities. These engineers are responsible for the safety, efficiency and economic viability of the transportation systems they design, build, maintain and supervise. The key areas where transportation engineers do research and design new solutions include:

  • Pavements

  • Highways

  • Seaports

  • Bridges

  • Airports

  • Public transit systems

  • Roads

  • Railroads

  • Depots

What Does A Transportation Engineer Do?

The exact roles and duties of a transportation engineer depend on the project they are handling, but some of their common duties include:

  • Designing and planning various transportation systems like bridges, railroads, highways, airfields and public transportation systems

  • Assessing the condition and maintenance requirements of existing transportation infrastructure

  • Overseeing day-to-day operations of new or existing transportation infrastructure

  • Studying the impact of various transportation and infrastructure projects on the environment

  • Making sure urban planners and government officials approve their projects

  • Ensuring that the construction plans, calculations and estimates for a project are realistic

  • Identifying construction problems and providing solutions in an innovative manner

  • Selecting and approving the materials for the construction of the transportation infrastructure

  • Ensuring that their projects comply with regulations and laws

  • Providing recommendations for traffic rules or policies

  • Analysing data related to traffic flow, accident probability and other statistics while planning or executing a new project

Related: 10 Valuable Data Analysis Skills

What Education Do You Need To Be A Transportation Engineer?

You typically need to have at least a bachelor's degree in civil engineering to be a transportation engineer. You can do an internship at a transportation company to gain experience in planning and developing transportation projects and evaluating and analysing traffic patterns. You can then pursue either a master's degree in transportation engineering or attain a professional engineering licence after gaining sufficient work experience in a relevant field.

How To Become A Transportation Engineer

If you are planning a career as a transportation engineer, consider following these steps:

1. Opt for the science stream after class 10

If you want to be an engineer, you can opt for the science stream, also known as the non-medical stream, after your 10th standard in school. Physics, chemistry and maths are the mandatory subjects to study in order to be eligible for engineering entrance exams after completion of the 12th standard. You also typically need to clear the 12th standard with a minimum aggregate of 50% from a recognised national or state level school board like the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

2. Earn an undergraduate degree

Next, you ca pursue a bachelor's degree in civil engineering or any related field. In order to get admission to an engineering college, you can clear an engineering entrance exam after your 10+2. There are several national and state-level entrance exams like the Joint Entrance Examination - Main (JEE-Main), the Birla Institute of Technology and Science Admission Test (BITSAT) and the Vellore Institute of Technology Engineering Entrance Examination (VITEEE).

Related: 13 Civil Engineering Interview Questions and Sample Answers

3. Pursue a postgraduate degree

You can apply for a master's degree course in transportation engineering after completing your bachelor's degree in civil engineering or a related field. Post-graduation is usually a two-year course. To get admission to the Master's programme, you can first sit the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE). You might also need a minimum aggregate of 55% in your bachelor's course to be eligible to sit the GATE exam.

Earning a postgraduate degree can help you gain enough knowledge to be successful in highly rated engineering positions. It also increases the odds of you earning higher wages and can offer you access to a management role.

4. Earn certifications and an engineering licence

If you want to work on government-funded projects, you likely need to be a licensed engineer. To attain a professional engineering (P.E.) licence, you can first sit the P.E. exam. Candidates willing to sit the P.E. exam might need a bachelor's degree in engineering from a college that is recognised by the Statutory Authority or Government of India and at least five years of professional working experience. In addition, you might consider earning a few certifications relevant to your field.

What Skills Do You Need To Be A Transportation Engineer?

Below are some useful skills that you need to gain to be a transportation engineer:

  • Problem-solving skills: Most of the work that a transportation engineer handles involves highly complex systems, which can lead to problems that are difficult to resolve. As a transport engineer, you can use your skills to provide a safe and cost-effective solution to those problems.

  • Mathematical skills: A transportation engineer spends most of their time in the office analysing data for smooth traffic flow and other statistics to plan an efficient transportation system. They use complex mathematical principles to assess various issues and plan future developments.

  • Decision-making skills: The complexity of a transportation engineer's usual tasks means that they can quickly and efficiently analyse every action and make appropriate decisions.

  • Leadership skills: Most transportation engineers lead a project from start to end. They often take responsibility for the success or failure of a new project. They typically know how to coordinate large teams of professionals and lead them to make sure they all have the same goals and work ethics.

  • Writing skills: Transportation engineers communicate with their team regularly. They can provide their coworkers and collaborators with highly technical information regarding the projects they are working on. They also submit reports to city officials and communicate with the public, so they often have excellent writing skills to properly communicate to different audiences with different levels of expertise.

  • Speaking skills: Transportation engineers can also benefit from being able to communicate effectively with their peers, employees, employers, officials and the public regarding the projects they are working on.

  • Data analysis skills: Transportation engineers constantly take part in tasks like reading and assessing large amounts of data. This is why it can be helpful to have data analysis skills to understand large data sets and to make decisions based on that information.

  • Multidisciplinary skills: Along with having the right education and expertise regarding transportation engineering, professionals working in this field also need to understand various economic, social, psychological and political aspects that are often linked with planning, building and maintaining infrastructure systems.

Related: Interpersonal Skills: Definitions and Examples

Where Does A transportation Engineer Work?

Transportation engineers usually spend most of their time in an office environment. Transportation engineers also often visit construction sites to conduct surveys and oversee ongoing projects, which can take place outdoors. They typically know how to work in adverse weather conditions and maintain communication in the presence of noisy machinery. Sometimes, they may need to work in shifts or complete overtime to meet project deadlines.

What Is The Average Salary Of A Transportation Engineer?

Your salary as a transportation engineer may depend on several factors, such as your job location, employer and professional title. For instance, after earning a transportation engineering degree, you may work as a:

  • Highway engineer: ₹3,74,822 per year.

  • Transportation specialist: ₹3,68,790 per year.

  • Transport manager: ₹3,46,983 per year.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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