Transport planning is about preparing, assessing and implementing policies, plans and projects to improve and manage our transport systems. There is a need for transport planning on a local, regional, national and international level. It can involve understanding the link between transport and the future shape of our towns and cities, the economy, the environment and climate change, and the quality of life. It is also about changing people's attitudes towards travel to encourage use of alternatives to the private car.
Transport planning includes a very wide range of disciplines and covers everything necessary to tackle the nation's transport problems and to plan and deliver our transport systems. The wide range of work is one of the big attractions. In fact, the work of transport planners touches almost every aspect of our day-to-day lives.
Transport planners work in the public and private sectors, as well as the academic, research, public interest and voluntary sectors. Many switch between sectors as their careers, and interests, develop.
Most of those in the public sector work for local authorities - others work for government departments and agencies.
Most private sector jobs are with consultants, and some are with train and bus and coach operators and with developers and financing companies with transport interests. The range of consultants employing transport planners is wide, from large multi-disciplinary consultants operating around the world through medium sized companies specialising in transport planning to small, niche companies with a particular focus.
Whether you are an undergraduate, a recent graduate, a career changer or a school leaver, the best way is to talk with someone already doing the job, preferably with one of the major employers. Indeed, it might be a good idea to talk with both private and public sector employers, to give you an idea of what you might be doing with them, as well as their conditions of employment. Click here for employers who are Stakeholder members of the Transport Planning Society.
Although some transport planners do not have a degree, most do. Further information on degrees can be found here.
Transport planners have many career options; some choose to become experts in a particular aspect of transport planning – for example in transport modelling, sustainable transport, travel planning and behavioural change – while others prefer to work across a wide range of transport planning activities, achieving breadth as well as depth of competence.
Many employers provide professional development schemes, including the Transport Planning Society’s own Professional Development Scheme, to help ensure their staff obtain a broad range of expertise in the early stages of their career, helping them decide how they want to continue developing their career. And there is a professional qualification, the Transport Planning Professional, TPP, to aim for. Having the TPP marks you out as a truly professional transport planner
Most transport planners aspire to leading and managing projects, and some to wider management roles, for which the key skills of analytic and communications abilities provide a sound foundation.
If you are interested in work experience opportunities (either paid or unpaid), then many employers do offer short work placement schemes. Contact those who are TPS members.
TPS also has a leaflet "Standing out from the crowd - Getting a job in Transport Planning" providing advice on getting ready for job applications, preparing job applications and managing job interviews.