Transportation is an interdisciplinary field of study, incorporating elements of business, engineering, city planning and organizational management. Transportation certificate programs may offer up to six courses in areas such as transportation policy, logistics, supply chain operations and urban planning economics.
The curriculum of an undergraduate transportation certificate program offers instruction in the management of transportation laws and regulations, modes, pricing, business partnerships and technology. For the undergraduate certificate program, the prerequisites are merely possession of a high school diploma or GED.
Graduate certificate programs are shorter, more focused alternatives to a master's degree program. Prerequisites for the graduate certificate program include professional experience in the field and possession of a bachelor's degree. Both certificate programs may require an externship.
Undergraduate Transportation Certificate
An undergraduate certificate program in transportation offers students an introduction to transportation regulation, supply chain management, warehouse operations and applicable computer programs. These are integral pieces of business and industrial operations that assist in the movement of resources and finished products. Some programs may offer a slightly different transportation focus that includes training for border security, radio frequency identification and protection of transportation ports. While not common, a few programs include an internship option that provides students with professional experience at a port or warehouse.
A transportation certificate may also be offered through continuing education. These programs may be geared towards individuals presently working in the field (i.e. traffic engineers, urban planners or freight analysts). They generally are on a specific topic that allows participants to learn about a new area or to up-date their knowledge. Additionally, students take courses that cover logistics, supply chain management, security and elective topics of their choice. Common subject-matter follows:
- International transportation
- Warehouse management
- Logistics and supply chain operations
- Computer information systems
- Border security and transportation
Graduate Transportation Certificate
Each transportation certificate program has a slightly different focus depending on the department or school offering the program. While some programs emphasize sustainable transportation development and management, others are concerned with policy or logistics. Regardless, these interdisciplinary programs are designed to provide students with an understanding of transportation-related topics that may include transportation management, public policy and urban planning and engineering.
Transportation certificate programs generally incorporate 3-6 courses, which provide a foundation in transportation planning and may allow students to choose from elective courses. Some certificate programs are offered as week-long seminars, which cover various units each day. The following topics may be included in the curriculum:
- Transportation engineering
- Traffic control and design
- Transportation policy
- Sustainable transportation planning
- Urban planning economics
- Transportation logistics and pricing
Professional Certification and Continuing Education
Professional certification is not required for graduates to acquire positions in transportation planning; however, it can assist in career advancement. The American Institute of Certified Planners is a non-profit educational organization that administers a professional certification exam, open to planners with a specific combination of experience and education. Those who pass the exam earn Certified Planner status and maintain certification by participating in continuing education seminars, particularly in areas related to current technology, laws and ethics.
Schools that offer certificate programs in transportation generally offer graduate degrees in a related field, such as environmental or civil engineering, public policy and urban development. Some certificate programs allow students to apply certificate credits towards these degree programs, while others simply encourage students to earn a degree and certificate simultaneously.
There are a number of professional certifications available in logistics and transportation that may qualify candidates for specialist positions, though they are not generally required for a career in the field. One of the best-known professional certifications is the Certification in Transportation and Logistics credential offered by the American Society of Transportation and Logistics. To qualify for the certification exam, candidates must have at least three years of experience and an undergraduate degree in transportation and logistics.
The majority of institutions offering undergraduate certificate programs in transportation also offer associate degrees. Many students who complete a certificate apply their credits towards an associate's degree in logistics and supply chain management, which provides further instruction in inventory management, purchasing, transportation and contracts. These programs can qualify students for management positions as well as bachelor's degrees.
Graduates with an undergraduate certificate in transportation are prepared for entry-level positions with shipping and distribution companies, warehouse operations and businesses that use these services. Possible jobs include:
- Freight and cargo agent
- Shipping and receiving clerk
- Sales representative
- Warehouse manager
- Expediting clerk
- Materials purchaser
From a graduate transportation certificate program, individuals are qualified for leadership and management positions in transportation management, technology development or local government. Many students who enroll in a transportation certificate program already hold positions in these fields and, after completing a certificate program, are qualified for more advanced positions, including:
- Urban planner
- Civil engineer
- Traffic engineer
- Transportation project manager
- Logistics and supply chain specialist
Employment and Salary Outlook
Shipping and receiving clerks made median salaries of $35,260 as of May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Employment opportunities in this field were expected to decline by 9% between 2019 and 2019, reports the BLS.
After earning an undergraduate or graduate certificate in transportation, students will have a litany of career options to choose from. However, students should be cautioned as the job field is projected to shrink by 9% over the next decade.