Transportation planners work for government agencies. They may work for companies that provide architectural and engineering services. They also work for environmental planning groups, conservation organizations, and companies that offer general technical services, such as geographic information system (GIS) mapping or cartography. They may work as employees or as independent contractors. Transportation planners share some of the same tasks and responsibilities as those of urban and regional planners. In May 2019, there were approximately 38,560 urban and regional planners employed in the United States, according to the Department of Labor.
Transportation planners often get their start through an entry-level job in transportation planning or through an internship while in school. They find jobs through professional associations, by searching for jobs posted on companies' Web sites, and through sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, SimplyHired, and others. Ask your school's career services office for help with finding job opportunities. Use social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, to learn about job openings and potential employers. For example, find transportation planner jobs on LinkedIn, at https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/transportation-planner-jobs.
Transportation planners with years of experience move up to senior planner positions. They hire and supervise transportation planners and other specialists for full-time and contract jobs. Planners advance by getting their master's degree in transportation planning and certification, which are required for most management jobs in transportation planning. They may leave full-time positions to start their own businesses, or take jobs in larger companies, handling more complex transportation planning projects. They also advance by becoming active members of professional associations, such as by joining specialty committees, teaching workshops, and speaking at conferences, and by writing articles for industry-related publications and journals.
Tips for Entry
Keep up with news and innovations in transportation planning by reading publications on the American Planning Association's Web site, https://www.planning.org.
Get a part-time or summer job in a company that offers transportation planning services. Ask your school's career services office for help with finding employment opportunities.
Read interviews with transportation planners who are employed in various industries, to gain insights into what the work involves. Find information at the Transportation Planning Division's Web site, https://www.planning.org/plannerprofile/transportationplanners.
Attend industry-related events to meet people working in the transportation planning field and learn about potential employers. The Federal Highway Association posts a list of conferences and events at https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/aboutus/calendar.htm, and also find events on professional associations' Web sites.