transportation engineer
How to Become a

Transportation Engineer

The complete career guide to be a Transportation Engineer: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $87,940
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 8.4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute

Transportation engineers develop plans for systems of mass transportation, such as subways, trains, ship ports, and harbors. They take many factors into account when forming plans for their projects, including likely utilization of systems, how utilization will change over time, and environmental impacts.

Recommended Schools

What is a Transportation Engineer?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in transportation engineer roles:

  • Develop plans for major mass transportation projects: subway systems, trains, ship ports, harbors, etc.
  • Analyze the impacts and sustainability of planned projects, considering likely utilization of systems, how utilization will change over time, and environmental impacts
  • Apply for all permits that will be needed for the construction of planned projects
  • Devise estimates for the overall costs of projects—including the costs of labor and materials—and work with project leaders to make cost-saving changes when required
  • Monitor progress during the construction phase to ensure projects are being built to specifications

A Day in the Life

Transportation engineers design plans for major mass transportation projects. They work with business leadership, government offices, construction companies, and architects to develop plans for new mass transit and transportation systems like subways, trains, and ship harbors. Because these types of projects have major impacts on the residents of the area where the transit system is being built, engineers must engage in a significant amount of analysis and planning prior to plan finalization.

Thorough analysis is required for the planning of mass transportation projects. For example, when planning for the construction of a new subway system, transportation engineers must determine the path of the subway throughout the city, potential stops along the path, and the potential usage of the system in both the near and distant future. This allows transportation engineers to design systems that alleviate—rather than complicate—traffic congestion in a city.

Another major planning activity that transportation engineers are responsible for includes estimating the costs of both labor and materials for planned projects. Both government and businesses will have set budgets for projects, so transportation engineers must determine if plans can be completed within allocated budgets. If they can’t, the engineer must work with project managers and leaders to find cost-savings opportunities that will not impact the functionality or safety of designed transportation systems.

Typical Work Schedule

Most transportation engineers work full-time during normal business hours. Overtime is occasionally required in order to finalize plans or hit project deadlines.

Projected Job Growth

As cities grow larger and the general public becomes more aware of the impacts of daily commutes in cars on the environment, demand for transportation engineers is expected to grow to design and maintain new and existing mass transit systems.

Typical Employers

Most transportation engineers are employed by engineering companies, local, state, and federal governments, and construction companies.

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How To Become a Transportation Engineer

The starting point for becoming a transportation engineer is earning a bachelor’s degree. Some aspiring transportation engineers pursue general civil engineering degrees, while others may be able to find programs that are more specialized for transportation engineering. Regardless of which type of degree is pursued, having a bachelor’s degree in a civil engineering discipline allows aspiring transportation engineers to take a licensing test that allows them to find work as intern or apprentice engineers.

While every state has its own requirements for licensing transportation engineers, most require engineers to first earn an intern license and accrue many hours of training under an experienced transportation engineer. This is a prerequisite for a second examination that will be taken one the practical training requirements have been fulfilled. If the training requirements are completed and the second exam passed, transportation engineers will become licensed to work professionally in the field.

While a bachelor’s degree and a civil engineering license issued by the state are sufficient credentials to find work as a transportation engineer, some transportation engineers also choose to move on to pursue a master’s degree in civil engineering, transportation engineering, or transportation engineering and management. While not required to work as a transportation engineer, a master’s degree can help transportation engineers qualify for management positions—if desired—later in their careers.

Transportation Engineer Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Transportation Engineer salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Transportation Engineer's can make an average annual salary of $87,940, or $42 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $64,750 or $31 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #106 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Transportation Engineer. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Transportation Engineers

  • 4%   Doctorate
  • 25.7%   Masters
  • 56.9%   Bachelors
  • 4.7%   Associates
  • 6.2%   College
  • 2.3%   High School
  • 0.1%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Transportation Engineer job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 23,600 jobs for a total of 305,000 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 8.4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #263 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Transportation Engineers

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Engineering services 130,700 15,200 15%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 36,500 600 1%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 29,800 1,700 2%

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