Job descriptions and industry overviews

Transportation planner: job description

19 Jul 2023, 08:50

Transportation planners (also known as transport planners) assess public, private and commercial transportation needs and devise new transport schemes.

A network of motorways including a circular road.

Transportation planner : Salaries | Employers | Qualifications and training | Career progression | Key skills

Transportation planners develop transport networks – roads, railways and air – that meet the needs of all users, and that consider environmental, efficiency and safety issues. They can work at a local, national or international level.

Typical duties include:

  • developing solutions to transportation problems such as congestion.
  • assessing the environmental impact of new infrastructure plans.
  • designing transport routes, such as cycle networks, one-way systems and pedestrian areas.
  • assessing the impact of recent building developments, such as a new housing estate, on transport systems.
  • designing research methods and survey techniques.
  • creating simulations and modelling traffic flows using mathematical techniques and specialist computer applications.
  • consulting with the public and responding to their queries.
  • 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.

Graduate salaries

Salary survey websites suggest that salaries for graduate transportation planners start from around £25,000. Earnings rise with experience, especially if you achieve chartership; the average salary for a transportation planner is around £32,000.

Typical employers of transportation planners

  • the Department for Transport.
  • local authorities.
  • specialist consultancies.
  • public transport operators.
  • Engineering firms.

Jobs are advertised on targetjobs and by careers services. You will also find them advertised on sector-specific jobs boards.

Find out more about graduate careers in transport planning including specific employers you could work for.

Qualifications and training required

There are routes into this profession for school leavers and graduates.

For graduates, degree requirements for this industry differ between employers. While some will be specific in the degrees they expect graduates to have, others will offer graduate schemes and/or positions to candidates from a wide variety of degree backgrounds. The following undergraduate subjects are often requested by employers in this sector:

  • civil engineering.
  • environmental sciences.
  • transport planning.
  • town planning.
  • geography.
  • maths.

It's common for those pursuing a career as a transport planner to carry out a masters qualification in transport planning; some employers state a postgraduate qualification as an essential requirement.

School leavers can take a transport planning apprenticeship, which involves studying for a qualification while working in a related job.

Career progression

Achieving chartered status with a professional body – such as the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) will help you progress.

It’s common to move between sectors in this profession – for example, transferring to a consultancy from a public sector role. The insights you can offer from a different sector can be very valuable.

Key skills for transportation planners

  • Teamwork and communication skills.
  • IT skills, including the ability to analyse data and to use modelling software.
  • Numerical skills.
  • Analytical skills.
  • Communication skills (interpersonal, as well as for presentations and written reports).
  • Problem solving.
  • Attention to detail.

Transportation planning has crossovers with civil engineering. See our civil engineering job description to learn about this closely related career and broaden your options.

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