The reality is much different, though, especially when you think outside-the-box to consider the many types of transportation jobs available. There are all sorts of transportation jobs that require driving, as well as those that don’t.
If you imagine working in the transportation industry, you likely imagine being stuck behind a steering wheel for hours on end, watching miles of empty road in front of you and never being home to spend time with your family or sleep in your own bed.
Some people absolutely love a life on the road (or in the sky or on the train tracks), but others want to get involved in the transportation industry from the safety of their desks. Those individuals may go into planning to create safer roadways or help planes land without any problems.
There are also engineers and manufacturers with advanced skills and innovative ideas who are making a splash in the alternative and autonomous vehicles industries.
If you’ve always been interested in transportation, there’s a world of jobs out there to consider.
1) Aircraft Traffic Controllers
Aircraft traffic controllers work with the National Airspace System to monitor and coordinate commercial, government and private aircraft. The overall goal is for all aircraft to arrive safely and on time. There are different types of traffic controllers. For example, a terminal controller ensures efficient aircraft flow into and out of a single airport, while a tower local controller oversees departures and landings of all aircraft.
Aircraft traffic controllers have extremely important jobs – they’re responsible for the safety of the aircraft and its passengers. This can make the job stressful, which is why aircraft controllers are eligible to retire earlier than most other workers. If an air traffic controller has at least 20 years of experience, they can retire at 50, and they’re required to retire by the age of 56.
2) Autonomous Vehicle Engineer
Engineers who want to get involved in an exciting, cutting-edge field will seek out autonomous (self-driving) vehicle engineer positions. Autonomous vehicles are poised to have a major impact on daily life in the not-so-far-away future.
The skills needed to land a job in this field are specific: C or C++ and Python programming languages, artificial intelligence experience and source code know-how, among others. The competition is also tough, especially since there aren’t a lot of companies hiring for these roles.
The benefits of working on autonomous vehicles can be huge, though. Autonomous vehicles may be able to prevent accidents that are caused by distracted driving, driving under the influence or speeding. This could lower the rate of car accidents, injuries and death, and also lower the economic impact of accidents.
Autonomous vehicles aren’t limited to cars, either. Autonomous buses may be able to hold more passengers and service routes that are in lower demand. Autonomous trucks have shown to be more productive and predictable than human-manned vehicles. Autonomous military vehicles could keep soldiers safer in combat zones.
3) Car Crash Attorney
Car crash lawyers work with victims to help them claim the damages they’re entitled to after a crash. While victims are not required to hire an attorney after a crash, it’s encouraged because attorneys have the expertise to handle complex cases.
For example, if a person gets injured in a car crash with a truck, the lawyer may be able to prove that the other driver was fatigued and that’s what caused the accident.
Getting into a car accident is a traumatic event. As the victim is healing from physical injuries and emotional damage, they also have to communicate with their insurance company and possibly the other driver’s insurance company, take stock of bills and medical records and try to get compensated for their losses.
Hiring a car accident attorney can take a ton of weight off the victim’s shoulders, and it can make their life better in-the-moment as well as in the future.
4) Clean Car Engineers and Manufacturers
Manufacturing makes up a huge portion of green jobs in the U.S., and transportation is included in that. Car manufacturers are being urged to create vehicles that require fewer fossil fuels and put out less pollution.
Engineers are working on alternative cars and technologies that use clean power sources (solar and wind) rather than “dirty” fuel sources like coal. Advances in clean car technology include electric and hybrid propulsion systems (the system that drives the vehicle forward); lightweight bodies and frames; and turbochargers, which increase how far a car can go on a tank of gas.
Not only are these advances much better for the environment, but they’ve also opened up job opportunities for workers. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the auto industry added 700,000 retail and manufacturing jobs from 2009 to 2017.
Green vehicle initiatives are also beneficial for the consumer. First, drivers reduce their carbon footprints by buying cars with green technology. Second, their fuel budgets go down because they spend less at the gas pump.
5) Drone Pilots and Trainers
Drones are one of the latest waves in transportation, and drone pilots and specialists are now in demand. In addition to operating the drones, there are also jobs for drone experts who want to train other pilots.
Drones handle what vehicles and human operators used to do. They’ve become a replacement mode of transportation, one that’s safer because human operators can stay planted on the ground. They’re also more cost-effective because they don’t use fuel like traditional vehicles do.
Drones are used for aerial photography for the military and filmmakers; they deliver products for retailers like Amazon; and they’re used by state departments of transportation to analyze bridges, traffic flow and roadways. With so many applications for drones, there’s not one benefit to point to – there are several.
Drones can survey areas to warn about accident risks; inspect bridges to ensure they’re safe for drivers; find damaged railroad ties; survey rivers so anti-flood actions can begin; and mitigate risks of natural disasters, like landslides.
6) Transportation Engineer
Transportation engineers create or improve transportation systems so that traffic can flow efficiently and safely. Projects include creating new infrastructures or systems for airports, bridges, buses, highways, ships and trains. The engineer will start by analyzing data to find problem areas, and then they’ll come up with creative solutions.
Here are just three of the many ways transportation engineers improve safety:
- As technology progresses, older railroads have to be updated to remain safe for passengers. Railroad engineers work on upgrading existing railways so new ones don’t have to be built.
- Design plays a large role in the safety of an airport. Airport engineers carefully analyze air traffic patterns, safety considerations and wind direction to create a well-designed, secure facility.
- To create pedestrian travel routes, like bike lanes, highway engineers first look at traffic patterns and safety issues.
Transportation engineers often collaborate with other professionals, like government departments and utility companies, to evaluate accident rate, costs and traffic flow.
Transportation engineers spend a lot of time in an office setting, but they also visit construction sites to oversee work. If a project is currently taking place, overtime may be required.
Every single person uses transportation in one form or another.
Transportation jobs can have a huge and positive impact on daily life. Moreover, many of these jobs put the environment front-and-center, and are helping consumers save money in the long run thanks to eco-conscious, energy-saving initiatives. The future is in the hands of transportation experts who have the creativity and foresight to envision, plan and build tomorrow’s technology and travel routes.