Only one of eight people who work in public transit planned for a career in this industry. In a job satisfaction survey recently conducted by TransitTalent.com, 13.5 percent of the respondents said they had transit career aspirations while still in school. About seven out of 10 (71.2 percent) said it was more or less an accident that they work in transit, and the remaining 15.3 percent said they ended up working in transit for “other” reasons.
“These numbers suggest that there’s much room for improvement in building interest in transit as a career goal among high school and college students,” said Steve Hirano, president of TransitTalent.com, an online job board for the public transportation industry. For comparison, Hirano, the former editor of METRO Magazine, noted that many, if not most, professional journalists aspired to the field of journalism as students.
“Transit leaders need to become more adept at persuading young people, the so-called Millennials, that the transit industry can provide interesting, satisfying careers,” Hirano said. “We should be emphasizing the critical role that buses and rail systems will play in mitigating global warming and how the younger generation can play a key role in that process in the decades ahead.”
Hirano said the importance of attracting talented, committed individuals into public transportation is growing every day. “With the leading edge of the Baby Boom generation reaching retirement age in the next few years, the transit industry is going to lose some of its most experienced people, up and down the managerial ladder,” he said. “There will be a rising need for new college grads and early-career workers to backfill the vacancies that are created.”
A total of 1,448 transit system employees in the U.S. and Canada responded to the survey, which also gauged their general job satisfaction levels. Despite the fact that relatively few respondents had planned to work in the transit field, nearly three out of four said they were “satisfied” (30.5 percent) or “very satisfied” (42.9 percent) with their jobs. Only 4.6 percent said they were “not satisfied,” and 22.0 percent said they were “mostly satisfied.”
The respondents represented a variety of job categories, including executive/management, maintenance, operations, planning, engineering, human resources, accounting, information systems, marketing/communications and safety and security. The majority of them work for transit systems that are APTA members.