Career Development

What Does a Traffic Controller Do?

Find out what a traffic controller does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a traffic controller.

Traffic controllers are responsible for ensuring the safety of all road users by managing traffic flow at construction sites, road closures, and other situations where traffic patterns need to be altered. They use a variety of tools to direct vehicles, pedestrians, and other traffic through an area or intersection in order to keep everyone safe and on schedule.

Traffic Controller Job Duties

Traffic controllers have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Monitoring traffic patterns to ensure that vehicle flow is orderly and safe
  • Making adjustments to traffic signals as needed in response to changing conditions such as accidents or construction work
  • Supervising and coordinating activities of other workers involved in traffic control, including police officers, emergency responders, and maintenance workers
  • Directing emergency vehicles where they are needed using hand signals or loudspeakers
  • Maintaining records of traffic flow and incidents for future reference
  • Following established procedures for closing streets to allow for cleanup after an accident or incident such as a fire or flood
  • Observing and reporting unsafe driving conditions to appropriate agencies for enforcement action
  • Responding to accident scenes to direct emergency vehicles and help with cleanup efforts
  • Operating radar guns or other equipment to measure speed, identify violations, and record data

Traffic Controller Salary & Outlook

Traffic controllers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location.

  • Median Annual Salary: $39,500 ($18.99/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $70,500 ($33.89/hour)

The employment of traffic controllers is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade.

Employment growth will be limited by the increasing automation of some tasks, such as the use of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) and other types of computerized control systems. However, these systems will also allow traffic controllers to monitor more roads and intersections, which may offset some of the loss of jobs due to automation.

Related: Traffic Controller Interview Questions and Answers

Traffic Controller Job Requirements

Traffic controllers typically need to have the following qualifications:

Education: Employers typically require traffic controllers to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers may prefer candidates who have a bachelor’s degree in traffic engineering or a related field.

Training & Experience: Traffic controllers typically receive on-the-job training. This training may last for a few weeks or a few months, depending on the complexity of the job and the company’s policies. Training often includes shadowing current traffic controllers and performing duties under supervision until they are comfortable enough to work on their own.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications are not usually a requirement to become a traffic controller, but they can help you become a more competitive candidate and increase your earning potential.

Traffic Controller Skills

Traffic controllers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is the act of conveying information through speech, writing or other methods. As a traffic controller, communication is an essential skill that you use to relay information to and from the public, police officers, construction crews and other stakeholders. You also use communication to relay messages to your team and to receive feedback from them.

Attention to detail: The ability to pay attention to detail is an important skill for a traffic controller. This is because they must ensure that all of the information they provide to drivers and pedestrians is accurate. For example, if a driver is supposed to turn left at a certain intersection, a traffic controller must ensure that the driver does so. This ensures the safety of the drivers and pedestrians and helps to keep traffic flowing smoothly.

Problem-solving: As a traffic controller, you may be responsible for resolving issues that arise during a production. For example, if a vehicle is unable to enter the set, you may be responsible for finding a solution to the problem. This may involve communicating with the production team to find an alternative route or finding a way to move the vehicle.

Teamwork: Working as a team is an important part of being a traffic controller. You might be in charge of a team of other traffic controllers, so it’s important to be able to work with others to ensure the safety of pedestrians and vehicles. You might also work with law enforcement, security personnel and other traffic control staff, so it’s important to be able to work with others to ensure the safety of pedestrians and vehicles.

Leadership: A traffic controller is a leader who oversees the safety of pedestrians and vehicles. They must be able to direct and motivate others to follow their instructions. Effective leaders are able to inspire others to work together and achieve a common goal.

Traffic Controller Work Environment

Traffic controllers typically work in air traffic control towers at airports, where they have an unobstructed view of the runways and taxiways. They may also work in air traffic control centers, which are usually located away from airports. In these centers, they use radar and other electronic equipment to track the movement of aircraft. Traffic controllers work in a highly stressful environment, as their decisions can mean the difference between life and death. They must be able to think and act quickly and make split-second decisions. They work in shifts that may include evenings, weekends, and holidays. They may also be on call, which means they must be available to work at any time.

Traffic Controller Trends

Here are three trends influencing how traffic controllers work. Traffic controllers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Need for More Flexibility

The need for more flexibility is a trend that is being seen in many industries, including traffic control. As businesses become more reliant on technology, they are looking for ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs. One way to do this is by outsourcing tasks to professionals who can provide the same level of expertise but at a lower cost.

Traffic controllers can take advantage of this trend by becoming more flexible in their work arrangements. This may include working from home or taking on projects that allow them to work across different locations. In addition, traffic controllers should focus on developing skills that are in high demand, such as project management and customer service.

More Use of Technology

As technology continues to evolve, so too does its use in business. This is especially true in the field of traffic control, where new technologies are being used to manage traffic flow and monitor road conditions.

Traffic controllers who are able to utilize new technologies will be better equipped to handle the demands of their job. They will also be more attractive to employers who are looking for professionals who can keep up with the latest developments.

A Greater Focus on Customer Service

As businesses continue to focus on customer service, traffic controllers will need to adapt and learn how to deal with difficult customers.

Traffic controllers are often the first point of contact for customers who are having problems with their cars or who are upset about something else. As such, they need to be able to handle difficult situations and resolve issues quickly. Additionally, they need to be able to communicate effectively with customers in order to understand what the problem is and find a solution.

How to Become a Traffic Controller

A traffic controller career can be a great way to get started in the transportation industry. It’s a field with lots of opportunities for growth, and it can lead to other jobs in transportation planning or engineering.

To become a traffic controller, you need to have a strong understanding of traffic flow theory and principles. You also need to be able to use a variety of tools, including computer software and electronic devices. And you must be able to work well under pressure and meet deadlines.

Advancement Prospects

There are several ways to advance in the field of traffic control. One of the best is to get more education, which will enable you to apply for positions that are not otherwise open to you. For example, a traffic controller with only a high school diploma may wish to get an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in engineering, which will allow him or her to apply for positions as a traffic engineer.

Another way to advance in this field is to gain more experience. An experienced traffic controller may eventually become a supervisor or manager.

Finally, traffic controllers who are especially skilled and knowledgeable may be able to advance to positions in other related fields, such as transportation planning or traffic engineering.

Traffic Controller Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we move people and goods safely and efficiently through some of the busiest areas in the city. We’re looking for a traffic controller to join our team and help us keep the flow of traffic moving smoothly. The ideal candidate will have experience directing traffic, excellent communication skills, and a strong understanding of traffic laws. He or she will be responsible for directing traffic around construction zones, accidents, and other obstacles while ensuring the safety of drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Maintain a safe work zone by following all traffic safety regulations and using proper personal protective equipment
  • Place, remove, and maintain traffic control devices such as cones, barrels, signs, and barricades in accordance with approved traffic control plans
  • Notify appropriate personnel of road/lane closures and detours
  • Respond to inquiries from the public regarding traffic conditions and detours
  • Assist stranded motorists when possible and within scope of training and authority
  • Monitor oncoming traffic and direct drivers accordingly using hand signals, flags, or batons
  • Communicate via radio with other traffic controllers and emergency personnel as needed
  • Prepare accurate reports of traffic incidents and violations
  • Perform routine maintenance on traffic control equipment and vehicles
  • Undergo regular training to keep up-to-date on best practices and changes in traffic laws
  • Work long hours outdoors in all weather conditions
  • Be able to lift 50 pounds and stand for long periods of time

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Valid driver’s license with clean driving record
  • Ability to pass a background check
  • Strong dedication to accuracy and efficiency
  • Good physical condition, able to stand for long periods of time
  • Comfortable working in all weather conditions

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in related field
  • Skills with upselling or product recommendations are a bonus
  • Knowledge of word processing software


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