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Insights 4 reasons you should consider a career in transport engineering

When was the last time you took a train, or drove anywhere?

We rely on good transport links to do everything from the daily commute to the weekly shop, and, whether or not we’re aware of it, we also depend on a team of expert transport engineers and planners to keep us connected. These engineers are responsible for fixing our bridges, building new links between our towns and cities, and helping us travel smarter: they are the unsung heroes of the engineering sector.

Walking the line between town planning, civil engineering and even architecture, working in transport makes for an exciting career. With demand for new engineers rising all the time and hundreds of new projects on the horizon, it’s also a sector that needs fresh talent to help build the future. It’s therefore the perfect time to get involved in a job that will let you have a real impact on other people’s lives.

Here’s why transport engineering should be your next career move.

It’s always in demand

The engineering sector is extremely profitable, and it’s also growing. Engineering projects generate 23% of the UK’s total turnover, whilst 27% of companies in the UK are engineering-related. That’s a lot of business, and yet there’s also a shortage of candidates with the right engineering skills around the country.

There’s a reason for this heightened demand: in addition to upgrading the UK’s ageing infrastructure, many of the biggest upcoming engineering projects in the UK require transport engineers, such as HS2, or the Cambridge to Huntingdon Improvement Scheme. Aiming to upgrade 21 miles of the A14 and construct new road networks and bridges within the area, to a cost of £1.5bn, this Improvement Scheme is a massive project that is certainly having a knock-on effect in the job market. Indeed, the demand for transport engineers is expected to increase by 20% in the next decade, making now the perfect time to make the most of these new opportunities.

It’s challenging

There’s no such thing as a stereotypical ‘transport engineer’. This sector actually contains a huge range of different jobs, all of which will let you test yourself and develop your skills in new environments. You can be a transport planner, working to improve and manage transport systems around the UK, or you can collaborate with local councils to design new transport facilities for schools, railways and more. Alternatively, you might be working with local authorities to deliver sustainable solutions. With sustainability regulations becoming a growing trend in the global transportation industry, factoring in green initiatives will become all the more important. Smita, Delivery Head of Design Transformation at Atkins in India, has enjoyed the challenges that the industry offers and encourages more women to consider a job in transportation

Regardless of what you choose to do, it’s a challenging job. A large part of your responsibilities as a transport engineer will revolve around problem-solving: can you find the right way to improve the roads around a certain town, in a way that complies with environmental regulations and improves the quality of life for the people using it? You’ll be combining your analytical mind with your knowledge of town planning and engineering to create unique solutions that will help other people, often juggling multiple projects at the same time.

It’s cutting edge

When it comes to new technologies, there’s no more exciting place to be than transport engineering. One of the biggest pieces of software to impact the industry so far is Building Information Modelling, or BIM. This intelligent modelling process allows analysts to create intelligent, accurate, to-scale 3D renderings of new designs, online. They can be designed to incorporate stress points, plumbing and electricity systems, and even measure how extreme temperatures will affect the materials used. With 70% of engineers having already adopted it within the workplace, it’s clearly a valuable digital tool in a sector that is always looking for ways to optimise performance and maximise efficiency.

However, it’s not just the construction process that is undergoing somewhat of a revolution. The ongoing trend towards greater connectivity, culminating in the ‘Internet of Things’, points to a future with ‘smart’ roads that can alert local councils to potholes, thinning tarmac or even generate electricity using solar panels embedded into surfaces. Driverless cars are also on the horizon: the UK government wants to bring them into commercial use by 2021, and with the industry estimated to be worth £28bn by 2035, this enthusiastic embrace of the future is bound to have an effect on the role of the transport engineer. Indeed, city roads- and even our transport network- will likely have to be drastically reworked to suit this new, algorithm-driven method of travel, especially as some are speculating that they may be better suited to freight transport than inner-city travel.

Technological expertise is what companies are looking for in today's engineers and with so much happening within transport, the sector remains full of possibilities for the future. For anybody wanting to make a start in engineering, there’s no more exciting place to be.  

It’s varied

Transport engineering is a dynamic and exciting place to work, whatever your interests are. Whether you enjoy problem-solving or directing operations from the ground as an engineering contractor, there are plenty of career paths for you to pursue. If you want to make sure that new developments are carried out in a sustainable way, you may choose to go down an environment-specific path. In Canada, for example, clean energy is shaping engineering and transforming the industry. 

There are also plenty of opportunities to work your way up the career ladder all over the world. As a transport planner, for instance, you can complete a professional qualification from the Transport Planning Society or the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport and become a project manager or leader; still others choose to specialise in more software-oriented roles such transport modelling and become experts in their field. Whatever you want to do, transport engineering has the right role for you.

Start on the path to success with Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis group.

Transport engineering is growing, and we want you to be a part of it. Find out more about what it means to work at one of the biggest and most dynamic engineering consultancies in the world at #InsideAtkins, and take the first step on your career journey with us by searching our vacancies in Transport Engineering.

If you're looking to pursue a career in transport in another country, find out about four of the fastest-growing jobs in the US transportation market and how you can develop your career with AtkinsRéalis North America.