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That’s all well and good. But what is the benefit from a career perspective?

Traffic engineering stands out for the diverse range of employers and career paths you can pursue. There are employers of all shapes and sizes that provide traffic engineering, plus local and state government employers.

 

The mix of private and public clients that need advice and help on DAs keeps the sector competitive for talent and is less exposed to the peaks and troughs of major infrastructure, so employment is more stable. The range of firms includes big engineering firms but is arguably led by the more specialised boutique and small to medium-sized firms who have built strong relationships with clients due to the trust and quality of their work.

 

This range of choice is great for you as a professional – it gives you real agency in your career path compared to other disciplines (like civil engineering or even transport planning) where the large homogenous engineering firms make up most of the market. More competition for talent means firms have to be agile and talent-centric to attract the people they need.

 

And what differentiates the average traffic engineer from a good one?

 

  • Focus on solving the right problems: It’s important to discern the difference between focusing on solving the problems you want to, versus what the client needs solving. The latter won’t always be the most interesting but it’s the most important.

 

  • Time management: The ability to triage and prioritise is an underappreciated skill in most professions. When you are juggling multiple deliverables then getting stuck on a spot fire whilst other fires burn is a real problem.

 

  • Knowing how to communicate: The ability to write succinct and to-the-point guidance and advice is a given. But also, the ability to engage with other consultants, your project leads, and clients is really valuable.

 

  • Task ownership: Accountability is often murky on big projects but on traffic engineering projects, it is far clearer and there are few places to hide when a deadline is looming. Being able to own your inputs and deliver is key and is likely to be appreciated, and recognised, by your directors and clients.

 

So, if you are career-minded and motivated to progress, we can say with confidence that there are employers out there that will align with your interests, and your ways of working, and recognise the mutual benefit of seeing your progress in your career.

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Ben Wood

Director

ben@calibresearch.com.au

The case for getting stuck in traffic (engineering)

The traffic engineering and transport planning profession encompasses a broad range of disciplines and roles, many offering diverse and fulfilling career opportunities. One such area, focusing on the critical traffic and transport aspects of Development Applications, (which from here on we’ll refer to as 'Traffic Engineering') presents significant opportunities for professionals that are often underappreciated.

 

Why focus on this, you might ask? Calibre has worked in this industry for nearly 20 years, and it is often overlooked by professionals who pursue other career paths in the wider traffic and transport field, and we think this is an error. It is also the discipline that has proved consistently resilient shifting economic fortunes of the wider industry, including the recent downturn.

We will highlight the positive impact of traffic engineering and the complexity and job satisfaction it offers. We'll also highlight the benefit to professionals of the open competitive nature of employers and the diverse range of clients that see better job security and prospects for those motivated to progress and perform.

 

Impact:​

  • Boosting Australia’s Productivity. Amidst concerns about declining productivity in our wider economy (which has been on a downward trend since 2000), at its core traffic engineering’s impact is about boosting productivity for our cities and communities. Especially crucial in addressing urban density challenges, traffic engineering plays a vital role in enabling better land use whilst maintaining network efficiency – for the most part without relying on road expansion.

  • Achieving Modal Shift. Despite out-of-date arguments that traffic engineers are car-centric, we believe that this sector has shown its ability to significantly influence modal shifts towards active transport modes, reflecting evolving urban planning priorities. With better data and tools, they facilitate a shift away from car-centric spaces towards more sustainable transportation options for major developments that are better for their clients, the community, and the environment.

 

  • Incremental, Unseen, Impact. One of the challenges we see for the sector is that their work is only ever in the news when things go wrong with the network. When we look at the increase and shift towards the density of our population in Australia, and the social infrastructure to support it, the traffic engineering profession has enabled this improved land use without our streets and networks grinding to a halt. This underscores their substantial, albeit often unnoticed, contributions.

 

  • Social Benefit. Much of the work undertaken by traffic engineers involves delivering essential public services, such as schools, hospitals, and other infrastructure that we use but are often taken for granted. Beyond these, developments for industrial sites, logistics hubs, and renewable energy also have long-lasting impacts on the wider population.

 

Complexity:

  • Critical Problem Solving. Traffic engineers are instrumental in testing and implementing policies and frameworks aimed at solving complex transportation challenges. Their ability to continually adapt and incorporate the guidance provided by long/medium term planning and frameworks like movement and place are realised when translated into tangible real-world outcomes.

 

  • Diverse Work Environment. While the technical aspects may seem on the surface as narrow, traffic engineers often work on multiple projects in multiple locations at the same time, not to mention engaging a diverse range of stakeholders, including lawyers, planners, policymakers, and developers. This varied environment offers constant challenges and opportunities for professional growth.

 

  • Navigating Hurdles. Overcoming bureaucratic hurdles is a vital aspect of many career paths in the industry, but the impact of doing so is huge when it comes to traffic engineering for development applications. This demands nuanced problem-solving, local knowledge of standards and guidelines, not to mention strong communication skills. You can be the best engineer in the world but if you can't overcome these hurdles then the solutions you provide will not see the light of day. 

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