Skip to content Skip to Live Chat


Transportation Planner Career


What Is a Transportation Planner?


A transportation planner is a type of urban planner who specializes in creating safe, efficient transportation systems that can stand the test of time. These planners work closely with city management and local government leaders to research ways to get the most out of city land use, solve traffic problems, survey road users, analyze transportation data, and more.  

For example, a transportation planner might use computer software to test a proposed roadway to minimize potential traffic congestion. Or a team of transportation planners may coordinate with civil engineers to develop a plan for a light rail system, taking into account a city’s population and layout. Many transportation managers work for the government while others work with private companies or organizations. 

Those looking to become professional transportation planners will find a variety of specialized roles in the industry with job responsibilities that put their analytical, mathematical, and communication skills to good use.


What Does a Transportation Planner Do?

Transportation planners keep busy with a wide range of day-to-day tasks. These include the following:

  • Studying and interpreting proposed transportation projects, weighing strengths against weaknesses.
  • Evaluating the legality of current and future transit infrastructure.
  • Drafting reports that outline research findings, including how to resolve transportation problems.
  • Accepting, rejecting, or modifying proposed plans.
  • Researching ways to improve transportation efficiency, reduce environmental impact, lower project cost, and implement other improvements.
  • Designing plans for new projects like parking lots, bus facilities, and bike lanes.
  • Using software-based planning programs and geographic information systems (GIS) for coordinating proposed transportation projects.
  • Presenting plans to legislative groups and advocating for cooperation.
  • Submitting bids and writing grants to secure project funding.
  • Overseeing project development and implementation.
  • Adhering to project timelines and budgets.


How Do I Become a Transportation Planner?

To prepare for a career in transportation planning, you should determine which related degree program would suit your interests most and decide how far you’d like to take your education. 

Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree in supply chain and operations management, data analytics, civil engineering, geography, environmental science, or a similar field. Be sure to identify which field of study interests you the most since many undergraduate programs could serve as good foundations for transportation planning. You might choose a degree program with an emphasis in business, engineering, social science, or a blend of all three.

Step2: Obtain certification. Some states require that you get certified or licensed before you begin a transportation planning career. Even if not required, some planners choose to earn a certificate in order to stand out to potential employers. Common certifications include the Certified Transportation Planner and Certified Urban Designer certifications as well as the Advanced Specialty Certification in Transportation Planning.

Step 3: Consider getting a master’s degree for managerial roles. A master’s degree can give you the skills needed for the research you’ll conduct as a transportation planner. It could also qualify you for a senior transportation planner position with a higher salary. Relevant master’s programs might include environmental management, urban and regional planning, strategic management, and data analytics.

Step 4: Apply for transportation planner jobs. When applying for a job in this industry, remember to draft an effective résumé and cover letter that describe your education background and internship or work experience. You might also use a social networking app like LinkedIn to help narrow down your job search.

Best Degrees for a Transportation Planner


Supply Chain and Operations Management - B.S.

This online supply chain and operations management program will prepare...

This online supply chain and operations management program will prepare you for real-world experiences in business.

  • Time: 61% of graduates finish similar programs within 19 months.
  • Tuition: $3,575 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 36 courses in this program.

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Project Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Detail Oriented
  • Management
  • Leadership
  • Operations:

Data Analytics – B.S.

Lean into data, and walk away with a cutting-edge online degree:...

Lean into data, and walk away with a cutting-edge online degree:

  • Time: 62% of graduates finish within 36 months.
  • Tuition and fees: $3,735 per 6-month term.
  • Courses: 39 total courses in this program.

Certifications in this program at no additional cost include:

  • AWS Cloud Practitioner
  • CompTIA Data+
  • CompTIA Project+
  • Udacity Nanodegree—a unique, highly recognized credential designed to prepare you for a career in data science
  • MSI Change Management (Optional Certification)
  • Certiprof Design Thinking Professional Certificate (Optional Certification)

Skills for your résumé that you will learn in this program:

  • Data management
  • Data wrangling
  • Statistical analysis
  • Visualization
  • Leadership and management 
  • Model deployment & storytelling

Supply Chain Certificate – School of Business

Boost your résumé and gain valuable experience with a supply chain...

Boost your résumé and gain valuable experience with a supply chain certificate from the School of Business.

  • Time: 6 months from start to finish.
  • Cost: $2,500 for the certificate.
  • Courses: 4 courses total in this program.

This program is designed for individuals who are ready to take their supply chain experience to the next level and become a front-line leader in their organization.

Whether you want to advance your career in this field, or you're just getting started, a supply chain certificate can help you be ready for your next career step. You'll be prepared to work in a variety of industries including: 

  • Startups
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • IT
  • Retail
  • E-Commerce

How Much Does a Transportation Planner Make?


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), transportation planners made an average annual salary of $78,500 in May 2021. The highest-paying transportation planning jobs in that year were in federal government while the lowest-paying jobs were in local government.

What Is the Projected Job Growth?


The number of jobs in urban and regional planning is projected to grow by 4% from 2021 to 2031, according to the BLS. Additionally, about 3,800 openings for urban and regional planners are projected each year between 2021 and 2031.


What Skills Does a Transportation Planner Need?

Transportation planners work in a space that requires a varied skill set. They should acquire skills in areas like business, environmental science, math, and more. These skills include:

  • Excellent oral and written communication. Most, if not all, transportation planners need to write out project plans, research findings, and financial proposals for legislative and engineering leaders. They also must negotiate with these individuals to persuade them to greenlight projects. That’s why it’s crucial that these planners possess above-average communication skills. 
  • Thorough understanding of governmental transport and planning policies. To take initial project concepts to completion, transportation planners should be familiar with how their local or state government approaches city management. This understanding can facilitate and encourage cooperation between government leaders and planners.
  • Ability to model and analyze traffic flows using mathematics and computer applications. Nowadays, transportation planning relies heavily on computer programs that can help predict traffic patterns and identify potential problems. But to use these programs effectively, planners should have a firm grasp of mathematics—especially calculus.
  • Analytical skills. A transportation planner should develop good analytical skills in general so that they don’t miss crucial details that could make or break a project’s success.
  • Interpersonal skills. Whether in entry-level roles or management roles, transportation planners need to be able to communicate well with coworkers, leaders, and team members so that everyone stays on the same page.
  • Negotiation skills. Planners won’t get far with certain projects if they’re unable to negotiate budgetary and resource concerns with other managers and leaders.
  • Organizational skills. Transportation planners can focus on doing good work when they keep their workspace clean and organized.

Our Online University Degree Programs Start on the First of Every Month, All Year Long

No need to wait for spring or fall semester. It's back-to-school time at WGU year-round. Get started by talking to an Enrollment Counselor today, and you'll be on your way to realizing your dream of a bachelor's or master's degree—sooner than you might think!

Next Start Date

Interested in Becoming a Transportation Planner?

Learn more about degree programs that can prepare you for this meaningful career.