How To Become a Transportation Engineer

A transportation engineer is consulting plans on a laptop at a work site.Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) develops a report that analyzes the United States’ infrastructure. In its most recent report, published in 2017, the ASCE gave the country a score of D+. The ASCE’s report noted that in addition to its roads and other infrastructure, the nation’s bridges were also in need of significant repair, with the average cost of improvements estimated at $123 billion.

The ASCE estimates that $4.6 trillion needs to be invested in the nation’s infrastructure through 2025 to mitigate damage and retain infrastructural integrity. To meet this demand, professionals with an advanced degree in civil engineering and a background in transportation engineering are needed to help lead this far-reaching effort.

How to become a transportation engineer
  1. Earn a bachelor’s degree. Becoming a transportation engineer requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year university. …
  2. Take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. …
  3. Gain professional experience. …
  4. Earn a master’s degree. …
  5. Get certified.

Civil Engineering Academy Podcast Ep. 66 – Tips to Become a Transportation Engineer with Brent Chase

What does a transportation engineer do?

The exact work responsibilities and duties of a transportation engineer typically depend on their specific job level and assigned project. Some of their general tasks are:

What is a transportation engineer?

Transportation engineers are tasked with designing and building various transportation systems, such as airports, roads, bridges, bus systems and railways. Most of them are employed by government and state agencies and by private consulting firms, but some also work as teachers and researchers in colleges and universities. Most transportation engineers are responsible for the safety, efficiency and economic viability of the transportation system they design, build, maintain and supervise.

What is the average salary of a transportation engineer?

Consider these steps for earning a job as a transportation engineer:

1. Earn a bachelors degree

Becoming a transportation engineer requires a bachelors degree from an accredited four-year university. The most useful degrees are usually civil engineering and civil engineering technology, as they introduce the student to important subjects like engineering mechanics, fluid dynamics, mathematics, statistics and others.

2. Take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam

Most students who want to become engineers take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam either prior or right after graduation. Those who want to become transportation engineers take the civil engineering exam, which lasts six hours and has 110 questions regarding mathematics and statistics, ethics and professional practice, engineering economics, statics, dynamics, mechanics of materials, materials, fluid mechanics, surveying, water resources and environmental engineering, structural engineering, geotechnical engineering, transportation engineering and construction engineering.

3. Gain professional experience

4. After completing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam you can start your career in engineering with a junior position under the supervision of a licensed engineer. Every state has a minimum work experience requirement for those who want to become fully licensed civil engineers, with most requiring four years of experience. After completing this minimum work experience requirement, you can take the Professional Engineer exam, which certifies you as a licensed engineer.

5. Earn a masters degree

Earning a postgraduate degree in civil engineering 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. Postgraduate courses also prepare you for the certification exams needed to specialize as a transportation engineer.

6. Get certified

The final step towards becoming a transportation engineer is completing one of the six certifications issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) that are related to a career in transportation engineering. The available certifications vary depending on your desired specialization and are coastal engineering, geotechnical engineering, ocean engineering, navigation engineering, water resource engineering and ports engineering. Eligible candidates need to have at least eight years of engineering work experience and a Professional Engineering license.

The most important skills for a transportation engineer

Some of the most useful skills for a transportation engineer are:


What skills do you need to be a transportation engineer?

Knowledge of intelligent transportation and traffic management systems technology and applications. Knowledge of traffic operations theory and practice. Knowledge of engineering office practices and procedures. Ability to make mathematical computations and design engineering projects.

What does transportation engineer do?

Transportation engineers plan roadway construction and maintenance, as well as design airports, subways, and metro transit systems. Civil engineers often work outdoors at construction sites to monitor progress and troubleshoot any problems that come up.

Is there a demand for transportation engineers in the future?

Demand for Transportation Engineers is expected to go up, with an expected 33,850 new jobs filled by 2029. This represents an annual increase of 1.25 percent over the next few years.

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