Federal Resume

By Kathryn Troutman

Blog archive

Federal Agency Series Part 9: What you should know about the Department of Transportation

Website: https://www.transportation.gov/

Secretary: Anthony R. Foxx (2013 – present)

Headquarters: Washington, D.C.  Various Administrations operate from locations across the U.S. and around the world.

Mission: Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.

Strategic Goals: The Department’s Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2014-2018 outlines 3 main goals:

  • building on the Department’s legacy of safety
  • closing the infrastructure deficit
  • modernizing the U.S. transportation system using technology and process innovation

Number of Civilian Employees: Approximately 55,000 employees.

DOT Organization Structure: The Department has 11 Operating Administrations and Bureaus as well as a number of Offices responsible for administration and policy.


National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Dedicated to achieving the highest standards of excellence in motor vehicle and highway safety. Investigates safety defects; sets and enforces safety performance standards for motor vehicles and equipment. Sets and enforces fuel economy standards. Provides grants to State governments to enable States to conduct effective highway safety programs. NHTSA has 10 Regional Offices providing technical assistance, administering grant fund programs, building coalitions, and providing training. Approximately 600 employees including transportation specialists, highway safety and motor carrier specialists, safety scientists, engineers, and program managers.

Highway Safety

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Oversees civil aviation safety. Issues and enforces regulations and standards related to the manufacture, operation, certification and maintenance of aircraft. Responsible for the rating and certification of airmen and for certification of airports serving air carriers. The FAA operates from locations across the U.S. (headquartered in Washington, D.C. with 9 regional offices, a Technical Center in Oklahoma, an Aeronautical Center in N.J. as well as operations in every major and regional airport in the U.S.) It also has international locations in Belgium and Singapore. With approximately 45,000 employees, the vast majority in air traffic, careers include: air traffic controllers, aviation safety inspectors, airways transportation systems specialists, security inspectors, engineers, program managers, and acquisition specialists.

TIP 1:  The FAA has a helpful website  describing the variety of opportunities in aviation, professional, technical and executive careers.  See http://www.faa.gov/jobs/career_fields/.

TIP 2:  Read about the FAA’s plans to a large number of Air Traffic Controller Specialist trainees in a February 2014 Resume Place Blog.  See http://www.resume-place.com/2014/02/new-faa-postings/.

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Through its Federal Aid Highway Program, the FHA coordinates highway transportation programs in cooperation with states and other partners to enhance the country’s safety, economic vitality, quality of life, and the environment. FHA’s Federal Lands Highway Program provides access to and within national forests, national parks, Indian reservations and other public lands. The Administration has approximately 2,800 employees, including operations specialists, engineers, program analysts, program specialists, and IT specialists

TIP 3: The Federal Highway Administration was named the #13 (of 320 rated agency sub-components) Best Places to Work in the Federal Government by the Partnership for Public Service in 2015. 

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). Protects people and the environment by advancing safe transportation of energy and hazardous materials. Oversees and regulates the safety of the Nation’s hazardous materials shipments and energy transported by pipelines. Approximately 500 employees, including engineers, inspectors, transportation specialists, investigators, program analysts, and IT specialists.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Primary mission is to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks and buses. Leads transportation safety efforts and cutting-edge technology and transportation initiatives. Approximately 1,100 employees, including motor carrier safety specialists.

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Promotes safe and environmentally sound rail (intermodal) transportation. Employs safety inspectors to monitor railroad compliance with federally mandated safety standards. With approximately 825 employees, career opportunities include railroad safety inspectors and transportation industry analysts.

Federal Railroad

Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC). Wholly owned government corporation of the DOT. Constructs, operates and maintains a safe, reliable and efficient waterway for commercial and noncommercial vessels between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean. Administration is shared with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation in Canada. Headquarters is located in Washington, D.C and operations offices are located at the two U.S. Seaway locks (Eisenhower and Snell) in Massena, N.Y. Jobs tend to be either along the lines of marine transportation specialists, or trade / mechanic positions (Wage Grade). The Corporation has less than 150 employees, including those involved in fields such as engineering, marine operations, IT, and administration.


Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Assists in developing improved mass transportation systems for cities and communities nationwide through grant programs. Approximately 500 employees including planners, environmental specialists, engineers, research program specialists, and program managers.

Surface Transportation Board (STB). Independent, bipartisan, adjudicatory body housed within the Department of Transportation. Responsible for the economic regulation of interstate surface transportation, primarily railroads, within the United States. Its mission is to ensure that competitive, efficient, and safe transportation services are provided to meet the needs of shippers, receivers, and consumers. Jobs include Transportation Industry Analysts. Approximately 120 employees including transportation industry analysts, environmental analysts, and economists.
TIP 4: OPM surveyed more than 400,000 employees in its 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The Surface Transportation Board was among the 3 top scoring small agencies that had top scores in both 2015 and 2014.

Maritime Administration (MARAD). Fosters and promotes the U.S. Merchant Marine and maritime industry to strengthen the commercial marine transportation system to meet the Nation’s economic and national security needs. MARAD programs promote the development of an adequate, well-balanced United States merchant marine to carry the Nation’s domestic waterborne commerce and a substantial portion of its waterborne foreign commerce. The Merchant Marine is capable of service as a naval and military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency. MARAD has a presence at major U.S. gateway ports, including 10 large ports on the coasts (East, West, and Gulf), the Great Lakes and inland rivers. Approximately 700 employees including careers in port and waterways management, vessel management, safety and security, and logistics.

TIP 5: The U. S. Coast Guard (part of the Department of Homeland Security) is the regulatory agency responsible for licensing and certifying U.S. merchant mariners working aboard vessels requiring credentialed mariners. There are different routes to gain required training and documentation. Civilians often prepare by enrolling in a 4-year degree program at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy or one of 6 state maritime academies. For information on maritime academies, see http://www.marad.dot.gov/education/maritime-academies/.

Military members may “cross over” by becoming certified and licensed. For information on “Military to Mariners” eligibility, see http://www.marad.dot.gov/mariners/military-to-mariners/.

OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY OFFICES (with missions if not evident)

  • Administration
  • Budget and Financial Management
  • Chief Information Officer
  • Civil Rights
  • Drug and Alcohol Policy and Compliance. Principal advisor to the Secretary on rules related to the drug and alcohol testing of safety-sensitive transportation employees in aviation, trucking, railroads, mass transit, pipelines, and other transportation industries. Publishes regulations and provides official interpretations on drug and alcohol testing.
  • Freedom of Information Act
  • General Counsel
  • Governmental Affairs
  • Hearings. Comprised of administrative law judges and support staff. Conducts official hearings including air carrier citizenship determinations; fairness of airport landing rates and charges; and civil penalty proceedings.
  • Inspector General. Approximately 400 employees, including auditors, analysts, and special agents.
  • Intelligence, Security and Emergency Response. Ensures the development, coordination and execution of plans and procedures for the Department of Transportation to balance transportation security requirements with the safety, mobility and economic needs of the Nation through effective intelligence, security, preparedness and emergency response programs.
  • Public Affairs
    Research and Technology. Provides research activities, collaboration and transportation statistical data aligned with the Department’s strategic goals and key interest areas.
    Small and Disadvantaged Business. Ensures that small businesses are treated fairly and have an opportunity to compete and be selected for a fair amount of the agency’s contracting and subcontracting dollars.
    Under Secretary for Policy

The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is also part of the DOT. It is a unique federal agency that is 100% funded by sponsor projects. Volpe’s mission is to improve transportation by anticipating and addressing emerging issues and advancing technical, operational, and institutional innovations across all modes. The organization includes 4 technical centers: Center for Air Traffic Systems and Operations; Center for Infrastructure Systems and Technology; Center for Policy, Planning, and Environment; and Center for Safety Management and Human Factors. Volpe’s 550 employees include engineers, physical and social sciences, economists, and IT professionals who work with more than 400 on-site contractors. For more information, see https://www.volpe.dot.gov/

Civilian Career Fields:

Civilian Careers

DOT has vacancies for candidates with education and experience in a number of fields, including:

  • Engineers (Job Series 0801; 0810; 0861)
  • Transportation Analysts (Job Series 2110)
  • Investigative Analysts (Job Series 1899)
  • Operations Research Analysts (Job Series 1515)
  • Safety Specialists and Inspectors (Job Series 2121)
  • Foreign Affairs Specialists (Job Series 0130)
  • Government Affairs Specialists (Job Series 0301)
  • IT Specialists (Job Series 2210)
  • Financial Specialists (Job Series 0501)
  • Community Planners (Job Series 0020)
  • Program Managers (Job Series 0340)
  • Acquisition and Contract Specialists (Job Series 1102)
  • Human Resources Professionals (Job Series 0200)

TIP 6:  The Department’s Careers website utilizes an easy to follow “Identify – Search – Apply” process for applicants.  It also has an excellent TIPS AND RESOURCES link with career development advice, including:

– establishing partnerships

– doing your homework (about agencies and job series)

– preparing your resume (highlighting key qualifications)

– preparing for the interview

Current Vacancies: There are currently close to 50 Department of Transportation General Schedule (GS) vacancies for civilian positions posted in USAJOBS for “U.S. Citizens.”  Many are between the GS-7 and GS-15 levels.  Occupations with the most current vacancies are:

  • Railway Safety Inspectors (Job Series 2121)
  • Engineers and Architects (Job Series 0800)
  • Program Analysts (Job Series 0343)
  • Program Managers (Job Series 0340)

TIP 7: DOT has a significant number of vacancies for “Recent Graduates.”  The vacancies (all located at The Volpe National Transportation Systems Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts) are: Community Planners (Job Series 0020); Physical Scientist (Job Series 1301); Operations Research Analysts (Job Series 1515); Mechanical Engineers (Job Series 0830); Electronics Engineers (Job Series 0855); Computer Engineers (Job Series 0854); Fire Protection Engineers (Job Series 0804); Engineering Research Psychologists (Job Series 0180); Policy Analysts (Job Series 0101); and Economists (Job Series 0110).  Posted at the GS-7 or 9 levels, many of these positions have promotion potential to GS-11 or 12.  The “Recent Graduate” component of OPM’s “Pathways Program” requires graduation from a qualifying educational institution within the past 2 years (veterans precluded by military service obligations have up to 6 years to apply).  For further information regarding the Pathways Program, see https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/hiring-authorities/students-recent-graduates/#url=graduates.

Posted by Kathryn Troutman on Apr 12, 2016 at 2:00 PM

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

2020 Digital Almanac

Stay Connected

Latest Forum Posts

Ask the Expert

Have a question regarding your federal employee benefits or retirement?

Submit a question