Cruising your Career Path
From engineering to public administration, the nearly unlimited diversity of transportation careers makes it an industry worth exploring for any of today’s future-minded students.
Building roads and bridges is just the tip of the iceberg. Transportation spans sectors like environmental science, distribution and logistics, economics, government—and the list keeps going. When you’re talking about an industry that keeps billions of people and a hard-to-fathom quantity of goods moving across the globe each day, it takes different folks to make the world go 'round, so to speak.
Throughout Fast Forward, transportation professionals have continually urged our middle and high school student readers—whether dreaming of becoming engineers, businessmen and businesswomen or policy makers—to explore transportation. But where to get started?
First: do a little digging. The internet is an amazing resource for career research. With the click of a mouse, students have instant access to information on job descriptions, educational and skill requirements, average salary, networking organizations, and more. The Federal Highway Administration website is a great first stop for students seeking a birds-eye view of transportation industry-related careers. Check out the FHWA's list of over 70 transportation careers that qualify college students for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship for even more career possibilities—then bookmark the page for the future!
Another option? Consider exploring extracurricular programs in your state or community, where you can explore transportation or one of its many sub-fields. The ASCE Civil Engineering Club, ACE Mentor Program of America, Transportation YOU, FIRST Robotics Competition, and Construction Career Days are great examples of organizations across the country that exist to help students explore transportation career fields more deeply, provide hands-on career-related experience, and even grant scholarship opportunities—all at little or no cost to students.
For students who have already decided or think they might decide to pursue a career in transportation, making plans for college is a logical next step. Many career paths in the industry involve some type of degree or advanced certification, so it’s a good idea to find out what type of educational experience you’ll need to get from point A to B on your journey. And while you’re at it, it’s not a bad idea to look for schools known for their high-ranking programs in your particular field of study. You can even start researching college internship programs to find schools that will provide the best resources to connect you with professionals, organizations, and careers in the industry later on.
Finally, remember that you can get a lot of advice from professionals or mentors in your area. Consider contacting a local transportation agency to ask questions, arrange interviews or even job shadow with someone working in your area of interest. There are also a number of professional associations, like the Institute of Transportation Engineers, with informative websites that can help you gain information moving forward.
And remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!