Some of the best career opportunities in transportation management are with government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Transportation. Government positions in transportation management focus on the implementation, oversight, and maintenance of local, state and national transportation systems. Transportation managers who work in the public sector are also involved in the development of transportation policy. The following five steps provide a road map to a successful career in transportation management:
1. Bachelor’s Degree
A graduate degree is preferred for any type of management position related to transportation systems. Undergraduate degrees in transportation or transportation management are offered by a limited number of colleges and universities. Alternatively, bachelor’s degrees in math, statistics, engineering and political science are acceptable, and provide a solid foundation for graduate school.
2. Master Of Public Administration Degree
Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree programs allow students to gain an understanding of public policy and the administration of public services. Specific administrative areas covered by the degree include strategic planning, financial processes, resource allocation, organizational behavior and leadership skills. Prospective students who are interested in transportation management careers should look for MPA programs that offer transportation as a specialization or concentration.
3. Transportation Internships
The top MPA programs require each student to complete an internship as part of the requirements for the degree. Most programs help the students find suitable intern opportunities and provide faculty advisement during the internship. Students who have an interest in transportation management should request internships that provide exposure to the analytical and decision-making processes used by transportation managers. The U.S. Department of Transportation is an excellent source for internship opportunities that are directly related to transportation management careers.
4. Career Options
The administration of transportation systems is one of the key functions of the federal government. A wide range of transportation careers are available with the Department of Transportation (DOT), which oversees the nation’s rail, aviation and marine transportation. The DOT also regulates the nation’s trucking industry, works with state governments on local transportation policy, and supports international transportation and trade.
Typical transportation management careers with DOT include agency administrator and office director within specific transportation-related organizations such as the Federal Highway Administration, the Maritime Administration, the Federal Transit Authority, the Federal Aviation Administration or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
5. Landing The Job
As the nation’s largest employer, the federal government is always looking for qualified individuals to fill management positions. Although the DOT is headquartered in Washington, D.C., it offers career opportunities across the nation and around the world. The best place to learn about DOT transportation management careers is on the Careers in Motion website. Job announcements are posted on the site along with career information about various DOT agencies. The site also allows job candidates to submit an online application.
Before beginning a job search within the federal government, it’s important to understand how the grade system works. Grade levels, which are based on a job applicant’s educational background, experience and professional skills, are used to determine salary. Mid-level professionals are classified under grades 9 through 13; senior professionals are classified under grades 14 and 15. Senior executives, including many transportation managers, are classified as SES. You can simplify your job search by filtering DOT job announcements by grade.
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