How Can I Become a Transportation Planner?

Research what it takes to become a transportation planner. Learn about job duties, education requirements, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Logistics & Transportation Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Transportation planners create efficient transportation systems, such as roads, footpaths and bike paths. Look at the chart below for a quick overview of this profession.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Urban planning, geography
Key Responsibilities Design and create public and private transportation systems, assess transportation needs of a designated area
Certification Required Certification is required in New Jersey; optional in all other states
Job Growth (2012-2022) 10% (for all urban and regional planners)*
Median Salary (2013) $65,650 (for all urban and regional planners)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is Transportation Planning?

Transportation planning involves the design, locations, implementation and maintenance of public and private transportation facilities. The list includes roads, streets, highways, freeways, footpaths and bike paths. The public transportation category includes bus, train, and subway lines. The goal of transportation planning is to create a smooth system for the movement of vehicular and public networks. As a professional transportation planner, you will find divergent positions available to you in the transportation industry.

What Education Do I Need?

If you have earned a high school diploma, the common way to eventually become a transportation planner is to enroll in bachelor's degree program in urban planning. Within many of these programs, you may choose to focus on transportation design. In addition to transportation planning, you'll take courses in community development, land use planning and quantitative planning techniques. If you want to continue your education beyond a bachelor's, you might consider enrolling in a graduate school program in urban design, transportation planning or a related field.

How Can I Get Certified?

If you want to increase your desirability with potential employers and further your education, the American Planning Association (APA) offers an official transportation planning certification program ( In order to become certified by the APA, you must join the APA, prove that you meet their minimum requirements for education, training and experience, and pass a written exam. In order to ensure that you continue your education and professional development, you may also be a part of the APA's Certification Maintenance program. An Advanced Specialty Certification program is also available from the APA, allowing you to focus on your chosen area of transportation design expertise.

What Is the Job Market Like?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected an increase of 10% in the number of urban and regional planner positions between 2012 and 2022. In May 2013, the BLS stated that the median annual wage for all urban and regional planners was $65,650.

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