Improving, maintaining and managing transport networks, such as roads and railways, is a huge task that's essential to the economy. Find out how you can play a part

The government are in the midst of carrying out major improvements to Britain's road and rail networks, with more than £70billion set aside to get the job done. It's the biggest rail investment since the Victorian era, and the most extensive road upgrade in decades.

The aim is not only to ensure better journeys for people across the country, but also to create an enduring legacy of opportunity and skills for the next generation of transport workers. With this project well underway, now is a great time to consider plotting your career path in the transport industry.

The importance of civil engineers

There are many career options in transport and logistics, but there's particularly high demand for those with a degree in civil engineering.

Civil engineers are vital to the delivery and operation of the world's transport infrastructure networks - this includes highways, rail, airports, seaports, harbours, waterways and urban transport, such as light rail and cycle routes.

Public organisations in the UK such as Network Rail, Transport for London (TfL) and Highways England rely on civil engineers and their technical expertise to help manage, maintain and deliver the country's transport infrastructure.

Those working in private consulting and construction companies play an essential role in allowing people to travel from A to B in the best and safest way possible.

If you decide to become a civil engineer in transport the work can be extremely rewarding, but it requires expertise and experience. Achieving a professional qualification with a professional membership organisation, such as ICE and becoming chartered - proves a civil engineer's knowledge, skills and experience.

Explore ICE and gain an insight into civil engineering careers relating to transport.

Find out more about the role of a contracting civil engineer, discover what you can do with a degree in civil engineering and read our 7 tips for getting into civil engineering.

If you're looking to enter the industry, search graduate jobs in transport and logistics.

Jobs on the road

Highway careers are vast and include a diversity of roles, from designing roads and building them to patrolling highways and maintaining them.

If you're determined to improve the country's roads, employment opportunities exist in the maintenance and improvement of motorways and major A roads with organisations such as Highways England and National Highways.

Civil engineers are in demand for the planning, design and construction of numerous facilities. These operations are not restricted to vehicles, as pedestrian and cycle highways are also crucial aspects of transport infrastructure.

Explore the various Highways England jobs, for example the graduate and apprenticeship schemes, which are available annually. Those on one of the three-year graduate programmes can expect to experience different parts of the agency, with the possibility of promotion after the final year.

National Highways offer graduate programmes in a variety of functions, from finance and operations to communications and engineering. Applications usually open in the autumn.

In terms of postgraduate study, the University of Nottingham's practical one-year full-time MSc Transportation Infrastructure Engineering can be studied in one of two pathways: Sustainable Highways or Sustainable Railways. The course blends academic study with the development of professional and practical engineering skills through project work, so graduates are fully prepared for working in the realm of transport infrastructure. You'll need a 2:1 in an engineering or related subject for entry. In the 2022 academic year the fee for UK students is £11,050.

Transport management and planning

As a transport planner you'll devise plans, policies and projects that improve the systems and services in place. These could be at local, national or international level.

According to TfL its workforce helps to keep 1.4 billion tube passengers, 2.3 billion bus passengers, and users of the capital's 580 kilometres of road moving every year. This is a huge operation and management and planning play a key role in making it happen.

As a TfL graduate you could forge a career in general management, with candidates expected to achieve a 2:2 in any subject. Other streams under the business umbrella include procurement and supply, quantity surveying, finance and commercial real estate.

Engineering programmes include civil engineering, engineering and technology, fire engineering, mechanical engineering and highways and traffic. The latter scheme runs for two years, and you'll need a degree in any STEM subject for entry. You'll complete rotations in traffic engineering, highway engineering, traffic control engineering and road safety and earn a salary of £27,000.

Transport for Scotland and SYSTRA UK also offer programmes in transport planning.

Cardiff University's MSc Transport and Planning, which is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation (CIHT), is a good example of a course with a broad outlook. While a postgraduate qualification isn't essential, students develop transport planning, policy, operation and management skills, so they can make an effective contribution to organisations in the UK or abroad.

Another important position is passenger transport manager. You'll typically be involved with the planning, coordinating and managing of transport operations while dealing with areas such as budgeting and financing, the management of day-to-day operations, service planning, strategic development, and marketing and PR.

First Group runs a two-year operations management graduate programme where you can join either the bus or rail division. At Stagecoach you could complete the graduate leadership programme, which covers operations, commercial, engineering, people and marketing rotations. You'll earn a salary of £26,000, rising to £28,000 in the second year.

Railway jobs for graduates

For a highly structured career path in rail, there are plenty of jobs for graduates. The large rail operators have a number of work experience and apprenticeship places available each year.

There are two routes to consider for those joining the Network Rail graduate scheme. The engineering stream covers civil engineering, electrical and electronic engineering and mechanical engineering. Business schemes encompass finance, network strategy, planning, analysis, operations management and property. As well as the range of graduate schemes on offer, their year in industry opportunities are another way for undergraduates to get that crucial experience in finance, general management, project management, environment and sustainable development and IT and business management. Civil, electrical and mechanical engineering placements are also available.

Also consider Thameslink Railway careers, with the train operator bringing together the Great Northern, Southern, Gatwick Express, and Thameslink railways. It runs the Go-Ahead Rail Graduate Programme, which gives participants the chance to explore all elements of the business.

Colas Rail provides graduates with three different programme options - Future Leaders, Commercial and Engineering. They also run a variety of Level 3 and Level 4 apprenticeship programmes.

Finally, the British Transport Police are tasked with ensuring Britain's railway stations, tracks and depots are kept safe. If this sounds like a career you'd be interested in, read more about joining the police.

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