Read our resource on careers in transport, utilities and infrastructure based on advice from geographers working in the sectors.
A career in transport, utilities or infrastructure companies can often involve using GIS or geospatial technology to design infrastructure developments or data collection and analysis to consider impacts on the environment and local communities. It can also involve public consultation initiatives, negotiating with different parties (e.g. residents' groups, councillors and politicians, developers and transport providers) and taking into account a wide range of issues such as safety, efficiency, climate change, economy and enivronment.
Work can be carried out at local, national or international levels and may include working on projects from the initial idea through to design, completion and review. Many of the large engineering and infrastructure companies are global, providing opportunities to work on international projects and to be deployed beyond the UK.
You will draw on the full breadth of your geographical skills and training – from data collection and analysis; report writing and presentations; considering communities and the environment, evaluating the benefits and costs of different strategies, with particular attention to sustainability.
Jobs in both the private and public sectors are available throughout the UK, but the larger consultancy offices tend to be located in, or near to, major cities.
To see real examples of geographers with careers in transport, utilities and infrastructure including how they got there, view our career profiles linked to transport, utilities and infrastructure.
I use Geography everyday in my career, be it spatial planning around transport networks to understanding the impacts of major projects on society (our customers) and natural resources (achieving net zero outcomes). My role is focused on waste so I have conversations about how our teams should be keeping themselves and the environment safe from exposure to hazardous waste"
Laura Fitzgerald, Transport Planning Consultant, Mode Transport Planning
Having a geography degree was invaluable. Transferable skills include the ability to carry out desk-based and primary research, report writing and data management…[my role] involves writing consultation materials, reviewing consultation responses to inform detailed design, and supporting council planners to produce high-quality work and meet deadlines"
Emma Rawlings Smith, Transport Planning Consultant, AECOM
In a typical week I will provide guidance to the team and plan resources on projects, aiming for a balance between skills, project demands and workload.
I also work on projects ranging from environmental impact assessments, or design of major infrastructure such as bridges, tunnels or railways. Usually I will automate analysis or map production with FME software, create 3D visualisations using Blender or Unity, or have a digital lead role on projects.”
Owen Powell, Senior Consultant, Arup
Watch our webinar on starting careers in the sector, with panellists Natalie Stirrat, Tom Grahamslaw and Irantzu Lexartza Artza
A degree with relevant content – such as a focus on GIS, environmental management or transport planning – is important. A postgraduate degree can help land a graduate job. Geospatial apprenticeships are a possible alternative route.
Gaining experience is important to progression, and you can consider searching for roles with SMEs as well as engineering firms, transport service providers or government (for example, the Department for Transport).
Throughout, professional development, mentoring and a willingness to learn are essential to both supporting your career development and building your skills. Professional accreditation is a good option which enables you to demonstrate your expertise while accessing networking and CPD.
Academic studies are helpful, but my progress through the industry has been mapped out by the opportunities available within an SME environment. From an early stage in my career, I was attending meetings and being exposed to external clients, teams and the general public…. Look into the profession and search for local transport planning consultancies. We regularly get asked for work experience opportunities”
Laura Fitzgerald, Planning Consultant, Mode Transport Planning,
A Level students can choose an accredited planning degree course. If you have already completed a degree then completing a Master's degree in transport planning can provide the necessary qualification to become a graduate transport planner. Think carefully about what aspect of planning to focus on.
Alternatively, if a degree course is not for you, there is now a Level 6 Apprenticeship in Transport Planning… I did not take either of these routes, instead I approached my employer directly for my role in transport planning”
Emma Rawlings-Smith, Transport Planning Consultant, AECOM
Attend as many webinars and talks as you can, and talk to people on social media. You will be amazed how open people will be if you just ask them a question!
So much of working in geography today involves GIS, which often diverges into scripting, web development, analysis and project management.”
Owen Powell, Senior Consultant, Arup
TargetJobs – Transport planner jobs description
Prospects – Transport planner jobs description
Prospects – Environmental engineer job profile
National Careers Service Transport job profiles including:
Other relevant organisations
Institution of Civil Engineers, including advice for students
Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation, including advice on careers
Chartered Institution of Wastes Management, including a report on key skills in the resource and waste sector
EnergyUtilitiesJobs – Career stories from utilities and energy
Read our resource on starting your career in research with a PhD in geography
Your chances of being employed will be much better if you think quality over quantity and invest your time in making a few very good applications, rather than dozens of generic applications which yield no interviews.
Read our mentoring top tips from our mentoring workshop with Ellie Highwood
Professional behaviour is important in the workplace
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