Transportation Planners


Education and Training Requirements

High School

A good foundation for future transportation planning work includes classes in mathematics, environmental sciences, geography, economics, and computer science. Strong research and writing skills are needed, so be sure to take English and communications classes also. 

Postsecondary Education

A bachelor's degree is the minimum requirement for transportation planning jobs, particularly for entry-level positions. Bachelor's degree coursework usually covers civil engineering, urban and regional planning, economics, geography, architecture, ecology, and political science. Many employers prefer to hire planners with a master's degree in transportation planning. Many colleges and universities offer transportation planning degree programs. Courses include traffic management, transportation systems analysis, behavior analysis, urban forecasting, environmental impact, and statistical modeling. Students also learn computer-aided design software programs and geographic information system mapping.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Transportation planners with certification demonstrate to employers and clients that they have achieved a recognized level of knowledge and skills in the transportation planning field. The Transportation Professional Certification Board Inc. offers the Professional Transportation Planner (PTP) certification program. To be eligible for the PTP designation, candidates must meet education and work experience requirements and pass the PTP exam. The PTP certificate must be renewed every three years. Find information at https://www.tpcb.org/certification/ptp. The American Planning Association offers the Advanced Specialty Certification in Transportation Planning (CTP) program for transportation planners who have achieved a high level of expertise in the profession. Eligibility requires eight years of transportation planning experience, among other requirements. The CTP certificate must be renewed every two years. Find details at https://www.planning.org/asc.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Transportation planners usually have four or more years of work-related experience. Some states also require that transportation planners be certified and licensed. Planners receive on-the-job training. The job requires strong knowledge of transportation principles and methods, engineering science and technology applications, and mathematics. Transportation planners collaborate with engineers and other professionals and also work with the public, so they must be able to write and speak in ways that others understand clearly. They must also have the ability to gather information from various sources, identify problems, and come up with solutions that make sense. Active listening, critical thinking, and decision-making skills are essential in this field.  

Planners must also have strong technology skills because they use a variety of software programs on the job. Some examples include analytical or scientific software such as Dowling Associates TRAFFIX; SAS; and TRL Software TRANSYT. They use computer-aided design software such as Autodesk AutoCAD and AutoCAD Civil 3D, as well as Bentley Microstation. They must be well versed in map creation software, like ESRI ArcGIS and ArcView; in graphics or photo imaging software, like Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop; and in database user interface and query software, such as Microsoft Access and SQL.