Transportation planner: job description

Transportation planner: job description

Transportation planners (also known as transport planners) assess public, private and commercial transportation needs and analyse and devise new road/transportation schemes.
Transport planners can work in the private or public sector.

What does a transportation planner do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Transportation planners are responsible for developing transportation strategies that encompass the needs of all transport users including pedestrians and cyclists, and which consider environmental, efficiency and safety issues. They can work in the private or public sector. Key tasks include:

  • developing potential solutions to problems such as congestion
  • assessing the impact of recent building developments, such as a new housing estate, on transport systems
  • designing research methods and survey techniques
  • modelling traffic flows using mathematical techniques and specialist computer applications
  • analysing and interpreting data
  • preparing reports and publications
  • giving presentations about proposed transportation options
  • acting as an expert witness during public inquiries
  • staying knowledgeable about government transport and planning policy

Career progression is possible by gaining chartered status with a professional body such as the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) or the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), or by studying for additional qualifications or transferring employment sector (public or private).

Typical employers of transportation planners

  • Department for Transport
  • Local authorities (county, district, borough and city councils)
  • Specialist consultancies
  • Public transport operators
  • Transport Research Laboratory

The numbers of opportunities fluctuate according to government road building and transportation policies. Jobs are advertised online and by careers services and specialist recruitment agencies. They are also advertised in local, national and regional newspapers and in relevant publications including Planning Resource, Local Transport Today and Surveyor as well as their online equivalents. Some consultancies offer opportunities for overseas work.

Qualifications and training required

The majority of transport planners have a degree, not usually in transport but in a related subject such as geography, social science or civil engineering, or in a subject requiring analytical skills, such as maths. Many graduate planners go on to gain a masters, often funded by their employer and studied part time. You can find out more about graduate careers in transport planning here.

It is possible to enter this career as a school leaver, although it is less common. You may be able to find a transport planning technician apprenticeship with a private company or a local authority.

Key skills for transportation planners

  • Teamwork and communication skills
  • Numerical skills
  • IT skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Communication skills (interpersonal, as well as for presentations and written reports)
  • Problem solving
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