How do I Become a Traffic Engineer?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 01 November 2018
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Traffic engineers create the systems and equipment that minimize hazards and maximize efficiency on roadways. They investigate dangerous roads and intersections, design traffic control devices, and determine how to effectively implement new policies. A person who wants to become a traffic engineer usually needs to earn a bachelor's degree in civil engineering and gain several years of experience as an assistant or junior engineer. In addition, some regions and countries require new engineers to pass licensing exams before they can work unsupervised. An individual who completes the educational and training requirements to become a traffic engineer can pursue jobs with municipal governments and private consulting firms.

An individual who wants to become a traffic engineer can apply to four-year colleges and universities with strong civil engineering programs. As an undergraduate, a student has the opportunity to take courses in design, drafting, mathematics, and physics. Such classes provide a fundamental understanding of engineering and its applications to traffic systems. Additional courses in computer science and communications can be helpful in preparing an individual for dealing with clients, setting schedules, and working with computer simulators.


A person may be able to become a traffic engineer after receiving a bachelor's degree, but many future workers decide to enter graduate school to improve their credentials and their understanding of the trade. A master's degree program in civil engineering usually lasts about two years, and a student can focus his or her studies on subjects that are the most pertinent to his or her eventual career. A graduate student can take classes in transportation engineering, urban planning, and mechanical design. Upon completion of a program, an individual can begin applying for entry-level jobs with private engineering companies and city government organizations.

Most new engineers begin their careers as assistants or apprentices to more experienced workers. An entry-level engineer receives hands-on training to learn how to operate computer systems, conduct field research, submit proposals, and carry out projects. The training period can last anywhere from six months to two years or longer, depending on a worker's abilities and the legal requirements set by his or her region.

A worker who excels during training can take a written licensing exam administered by his or her region or country to officially become a traffic engineer. A successful test-taker earns the credentials necessary to work independently on traffic engineering projects. After gaining licensure and working for several years, a professional may be able to advance to a senior or executive position within a government office or consulting firm.



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