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National Express Transit Blog

How to Become a Transportation Planning Professional


To those on the consumer side of transportation, it may seem like either a logistical nightmare or a wonderfully complex puzzle getting everybody and everything to their destinations on time and in good shape. While the truth may lie somewhere between those two extremes, the fact of the matter is that well-trained transportation planning professionals are working behind the scenes to make it all flow smoothly. Transportation planning professionals, also called Certified Transportation Planners, are some of the unsung heroes of the transit, freight, and passenger carrier industries, and these individuals are responsible for not only the current state of transport in and around our cities and states, but also for planning for the future.

As the population continues to grow, the demand for competent transportation planning professionals will grow as well, and this career could be a great fit for someone who is good at problem solving, is detail-oriented, and who can analyze and engineer solutions to complex problems. Although there are several different professional certifications, including Professional Transportation Planner, Transport Planning Professional, Certified Transportation Planner, and others, not every practicing transport planning professional chooses to get certified. With a requirement of holding a Masters Degree or above in planning or transportation, along with years of work experience in those industries, certain certifications may be out of reach for those new to the field, at least until a considerable amount of time has been put into the profession, but those hours of experience can eventually be put toward certification.

To pursue a transportation planning career, attaining a degree in civil engineering, geography, GIS, urban planning, environmental science, or related fields is a good place to start, with the pursuit of a master's degree or Ph.D in transportation planning as a longer-term goal for those looking to further their knowledge for certification and the best advancement opportunities. Getting an entry level position as a transport planner while pursuing a higher level of education is one option, as it also offers the chance to get working experience under your belt. This is especially true at National Express Transit as we pride ourselves in the professional development of our employees .

Transportation planning professionals can work for city, county, and state governments, public utilities and transit offices, private transport companies like National Express Transit, logistics companies, infrastructure providers, and private or public GIS companies or conservation organizations, as well as in building and engineering services firms. The responsibilities may include assessing and analyzing current transport needs and operations, forecasting near- and mid-range transportation trends, designing routes for cars, buses, trucks, or bicycles, optimizing cargo or passenger routes and processes, using modeling software to predict the impacts of changes, working with fleet asset management personnel, analyzing current and planned operations and benchmarking against industry norms, running statistical analyses, designing and interpreting surveys and customer feedback forms, reviewing engineering studies, determining budget allocations against measurable goals, clearly communicating ideas, proposals, and reports either internally or to the general public, and more.

If your strengths include research and analysis, problem-solving, interpersonal and public communication, modeling, or engineering, and you'd like to make a difference in the world of transport, becoming a transportation planning professional just might be a good fit. 

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