Can Being A Road/Transportation Enthusiast Lead To Any Actual Good Careers?

Started by bluecountry, June 23, 2024, 08:38:55 PM

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A lot of times, I hate how my passion and interest is transportation planning/demography/geography because that lead me to get an MA in Geography and pursue a planning career.  Based on my experience, I can say planning is an absolutely dismal useless career choice for the following reasons:
Quote1.  Your work doesn't matter. You are not doing an objective, creative analysis or problem solving, you are a tool for the local politicians and are simply the burecrate dotting all the 'I's' and 'T's' for their pet projects. 
- If you are lucky, maybe you are doing this for something interesting (like an expressway) but more likely it is for a left turn lane. 
- Even if your 'analysis' is interesting, it either is something that has been studied to death before and will be redundant waste OR if you actually do get to propose a real solution it will be scrapped by the next elected politician.
2.  You are a sell out, without any profit.  If you work for local government, which most do, you are in either a backwards Mayberry, NC setting or a bureaucratic setting that is full of resentful under qualified lifers. 
- Moreover, your job is not to save the world from sprawl or come up with a goof solution, your job is to justify why a data center is good or why a new sports arena will only require a left hand turn lane to mitigate traffic.  In short, you are a sell out, yet with pay worse than a teacher.
3.  Pay.  Sucks.  You are not going to be like your marketing, accounting friends, to say anything about finance advisors or lawyers.  Enjoy being paid like a teacher (when you average 9 vs 12 months), but unlike a teacher you don't do anything society values or really improve even one child's life.
Rant over.

Seriously, is there ANY profession related to this passion where you can either make good money to live upper middle class OR do something that actually is intellectually helpful vs spin?

Max Rockatansky

You'll never get rich in government work.  But you certainly can live decently and have a stable career.  Long term benefits is what keeps me in what I do (which isn't road or infrastructure related).

Now social media on the other hand is where being a road enthusiast can make some decent side cash.  The trouble is developing something marketable enough that is worth monetizing.


Become a civil engineer and work for a consulting firm if you're after money.

If you're after work-life balance, go into government.

Have to snicker about becoming a planner and how you're just doing a politician's bidding.  That said, I've seen city planners wield great power over how towns/cities evolve in more than a couple of states.  I've also seen good studies done that lay out great bike/ped plans or emergency operations for communities by planners.

Just depends on what role you want to fill.

For the record, my roadgeekery took a couple of twists and turns over the decades, but I'm quite happy with where I am now.
Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position(s) of NYSDOT.


Pay also varies based on where in government you work.  In general, the higher the level of government (federal/state/municipal), the higher the pay, but there are exceptions (like in NYC).  For MPOs it probably varies by what the host agency is (state DOT, transit authority, county, etc.).

The rant part reminded me of this Dilbert comic.
Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position of NYSDOT or its affiliates.

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