Professional Development for Transport Planners

The Society is committed to fostering the professional development of transport planners at all levels to enable them to:

  • obtain the relevant skills, both technical and generic;
  • continually extend their skills over their career, to meet changing needs; and
  • enhance the standing of the profession.

It has supported the development of an apprenticeship for transport planning technicians, and since 2019, a degree apprenticeship for transport planners. It provides the industry standard Professional Development Scheme for graduate level staff.  An overview of the TPS PDS can be downloaded by clicking here.

The Transport Planning Technician Apprenticeship

A Level 3 apprenticeship scheme for transport planning technicians has been developed under the Department for Business, innovation and Skills’ Trailblazer programme. The apprenticeship is designed to provide a work-based route through the apprenticeship qualification as a technician, then through the Society’s Professional Development Scheme to the TPP qualification.  This can now be undertaken in tandem with the degree apprenticeship.  The apprenticeships, the PDS and the TPP are all mapped to the same technical and behavioural content so should be completely consistent.  This provides school leavers as well as graduates with a well defined route to a career as a professional transport planner. For further information, contact the Society at

The TPS Professional Development Scheme

Progressing a professional career from entry at a graduate level requires a structured personal development plan. A plan designed to guide younger staff in obtaining the breadth and depth of competence in both the technical and generic skills expected of a true professional.

Likewise, there is a need for employers to provide their staff with opportunities to develop their initial career, and then to continually develop their skills over their career, so they have highly competent, professional staff, with a breadth of vision together with a depth of expertise to meet the demands placed on them.

Central to the Society’s commitment to fostering the development of skilled transport planners is the Professional Development Scheme, the TPS PDS, which has become the industry standard since its launch in 2008, with most of the leading consultants using it, as well as a growing number of local authorities.

For the transport planner, the PDS provides a detailed framework within which they develop their technical and generic professional skills over the initial years of their career. For those with a UK Honours degree (or its equivalent) but without a TPP approved transport Masters, completion of the PDS provides exemption from the TPP Portfolio of Technical Knowledge (PTK)

For the employer, use of the PDS encourages their staff to obtain the range of skills required to be able to work effectively as professional. It is also provides a useful performance metric, enabling them to track progress and commitment to personal professional development.

Designed to meets the needs of transport planners, whether recent graduates, career changers or those with an established career, the TPS PDS requires those following it to obtain:

  • the knowledge that underlies both transport planning and key generic skills, including communications and management
  • experience of work in a wide range of transport planning activities, with an ability to supervise others working in some activities
  • an essential set of management and communication competences.

The PDS Structure

The TPS PDS consists of a set of 18 Units, some of which are mandatory, while others are used to provide a set of choices. Eight of the 18 Units are concerned with management and generic skills (such as communicating and inter-personal relations), two are concerned with policies, laws and regulations, and eight with transport planning techniques, such as data collection, assessment, public consultation, plan development and travel planning. Each Unit consists of a set of Objectives. Progress through the PDS is measured by the completion of the individual Objectives of the set of Units selected by the trainee.

The PDS is based on four levels of competence – Awareness, Knowledge, Experience and Proficiency - with Proficiency requiring an ability to work unsupervised or to supervise others. This is only required for the technical unit covering data. 

Assessing Progress through the PDS

Each trainee must be supported by a PDS mentor, a colleague from within the trainee’s organisation who has been trained by the Society. PDS mentors advise their trainees and assess their progress, Objective by Objective.

To ensure consistency between mentors, as well as between licensed users of the PDS, the Society operates a PDS Review Process, in which trained Reviewers meet with PDS trainees and their mentors at least twice while on the Scheme. If the Reviewer has any concerns, they are identified and a programme for their agreed for them ton be addressed. The Reviewer then meets the trainee and their mentor to assess whether the changes have been completed satisfactorily.

Completing the PDS

The time required for completion of the TPS PDS varies between individuals, depending on their knowledge when they commence, their prior experience and the frequency with which they are able to move between projects, to gain the necessary breadth and depth of experience. Most of those starting as new entrants to transport planning will need about three years to complete the PDS, although it might be possible to complete it within more quickly for those with exceptional opportunities to gain the necessary breadth and depth of experience.

Why Should a Transport Planner Follow the TPS PDS?

As clicking below demonstrates, many leading transport planners see the TPS PDS as being of great benefit to those in the early stages of their career, as they explain in response to a series of questions.

Progressing from the PDS to a Professional Qualification

Those completing the PDS will have obtained much of the breadth and depth of skill they need for award of the TPP, the key professional qualification for transport planners provided by the Society together with the Chartered Institution of Highways and Transportation (CIHT). Those with an accredited engineering degree and who wish to become a Chartered Engineer (CEng) should have many of the competences required, although they are likely to need additional skills in engineering principles and health and safety. Completion also satisfies the experience requirements for Chartered Membership of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT). 

The Availability of the TPS Professional Development Scheme

The TPS PDS is available under licence to any Stakeholder member of the Society.

There is also a Consortium Licence arrangement for groups of Local Authorities who co-operate in providing and managing the PDS.

There is no charge for individuals participating in the PDS other than standard membership of the TPS.

Further Information

An overview of the TPS PDS can be downloaded by clicking here.

A leaflet providing an overview of both the TPS PDS and the TPP qualification for Local Authorities can be downloaded by clicking here.

For answers to some frequently asked questions about the TPS Professional Development Scheme and the TPP qualification please click here.

Click here for a leaflet for younger transport planners thinking about joining the PDS through their employer

For information on the Consortium Licence arrangement for Local Authorities please click here

If you would like to contact TPS for further information on the TPS PDS, please e-mail

Organisations that have adopted the TPS Professional Development Scheme


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