Mission, Opportunity, and Diversity Align at the Department of Transportation
The U.S. Federal government offers countless careers, but the Department of Transportation (DoT) may be unrivaled in terms of the spectrum available within a single department.
The Department’s mission is “to deliver the world’s leading transportation system, serving the American people and economy through the safe, efficient, sustainable, and equitable movement of people and goods.” Delivering on this mission is no small feat, requiring dedication from a team of nearly 55,000 employees—a number that continues to grow.
A growing opportunity
For five consecutive years, the DoT has ranked among the top 10 largest Federal agencies to work for. Considering the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, there’s good reason to believe it will continue to grow.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a difference in infrastructure,” shared Phil McNamara, Assistant Secretary for Administration, Office of the Secretary. “[The bill] is the largest investment in bridges since the interstate system was built in the 1950s, in transit systems in history, and in rail since the creation of Amtrak. The DoT is really the place to be to have a large impact: You have the ability to work on projects that will be around for the next 30, 40, even 50 years and that will directly impact people.”
Culture and commitments
Careers paths are incredibly varied and support numerous modes, including transit, highways, rail, aviation, and more. Each mode requires support from mission support, IT, grants, legal, analysts, safety, and other professionals.
“The opportunity is varied, but the underlying theme is safety. Every mode—whether it’s looking at fuel standards, safety recalls, or ways to safely transport energy and materials across the country—focuses on safety,” commented Gloria Shepard, Executive Director, Federal Highway Administration. “The thing we all have in common is that we don’t support a revenue-generating organization; our role is to serve the public and make sure they’re safe.”
In addition to its dedication to safety, the DoT has a strong commitment to its employees and culture, placing emphasis on its values, which include excellence, trust, fairness, empathy, and imagination.
A two-year development program exposes employees to numerous job functions and geographic locations prior to placement at the end of the term. A variety of structured development opportunities are available as well, including programs for academic assistance, internal training, leadership development, and mentorship.
Leaders are provided formal training to ensure they are equipped to thrive in their job and mentor and guide other future DoT leaders. The Department continually reviews internal staff to find opportunities for learning and promotion from within. Ensuring access to training and development opportunities across all employees is a top priority.
We want our department to be reflective of the real world, and each member of our diverse team is here because they are genuinely good at what they do,” commented Shepard. To promote culture and grow connections among employees, there are numerous employee resource groups focused on shared interests and hobbies, cultures and ethnic backgrounds, and other common threads.
According to McNamara, “As part of this administration, we have launched a plan to ensure that our workforce reflects the diversity of the communities we serve across the nation. Our strategic plan encompasses the full lifecycle of an employee, starting with hiring and recruitment in various communities and environments and continuing through to leadership development."
Leading innovation and change
One of many exciting aspects about a DoT career is the opportunity to work on the forefront of technological innovation.
“Transportation is ever-changing. Look at commercial space programs or driverless cars. Our employees get to work on the front lines of those changes,” shared McNamara. “We’re looking at ways to leverage technologies and innovations, and we know it’s going to be that next generation that takes transportation to greater heights.”
The innovations within transportation technology are vast and are not limited the vehicles themselves.
“There are over 42,000 fatalities on highways each year. Our employees work to prevent them. For example, we innovate pedestrian beacons that give people warnings about when they can or can’t cross safely. We look at innovative signage to promote safety while driving on roads and highways. We’re looking at every option we can to drive down the number of fatalities, and that’s going to take time and innovation,” said Shepard.
To explore Department of Transportation career opportunities, please visit: www.transportation.gov/careers.