How to Become a Traffic Engineer

Traffic or transportation engineers focus on the design of roads and highways so that traffic can operate in an efficient and safe manner. You will use the concepts and principles found in civil engineering, one of the oldest areas of engineering, when you learn how to become a traffic engineer.


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    Become adept at mathematics, which is the foundation of engineering programs.
    • If you are still in high school, explore STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs offered by public, private and technical schools.
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    Specialize in traffic engineering, which is 1 of 17 engineering specialties and a branch of civil engineering, by attending an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited engineering program in college.
    • More than 200 accredited civil engineering programs can be searched at
    • Traffic engineers are also known as transportation engineers and highway engineers.
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    Gain experience in the duties of a highway engineer, which include:
    • Creating plans for new roads based on transportation engineering standards.
    • Analyzing traffic flow problems and the environmental impact of transportation engineering projects.
    • Improving traffic flow by modifying existing roads and facilities.
    • Developing construction specifications and cost estimates for transportation projects.
    • Planning for various transportation systems, including airports and trains.
    • Supervising and inspecting road construction projects to assure compliance with current transportation regulations.
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    Work in the office and in the field.
    • Analyzing traffic situations and supervising construction involves field work.
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    Learn to use the tools of a traffic engineer:
    • Notebook computers.
    • Digital cameras.
    • Mobile radios.
    • Multiline telephone systems.
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    Use project management software such as Microsoft Project and specific engineering software, such as:
    • Computer aided design (CAD) software, such as Autodesk AutoCAD and Trafficware SimTraffic software.
    • Software for creating maps, ESRI ArcGIS or Bentley InRoads software.
    • Analytical software, such as Citilabs Cube, McTrans TSIS-CORSIM, or McTrans HCS+.
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    Demonstrate your competency by pursuing licensure as a Professional Engineer (P.E. in the U.S.; P.Eng in Canada) through the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES). Requirements vary by state but are generally:
    • Earning an engineering degree from an accredited program.
    • Successfully completing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.
    • Working as an engineer for at least 4 years.
    • Taking the Civil Engineering-Transportation exam and receiving a passing score.
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    Increase your highway engineering knowledge by pursuing one or more of the certification programs offered by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). Exams are offered 3 times per year for the following certifications:
    • Professional Transportation Planner (PTP).
    • Professional Traffic Operations Engineer (PTOE).
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    Continue your professional development with ITE.
    • Continuing education is very important as new standards and new designs are developed.

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Categories: Transport Careers | Engineering