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Graduate Transportation Associate (GTA) Program

The Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Graduate Transportation Associate (GTA) Program is a highly competitive, professional development sequence that allows entry-level civil engineers to gain hands-on experience in the areas of maintenance, construction, design, and project management.

TDOT partners with Spark: Lipscomb University’s Idea Center, where GTAs enhance leadership and team-building skills, learn how they impact company performance, and uncover ways to implement important business strategies.

After a one-year probationary period, those who successfully complete the GTA program will flex into a higher-level job class and receive a salary increase.  Several former GTAs have gone on to assume senior leadership positions with TDOT.

GTA engineering areas and specialties: 

Responsibilities include: Inspecting all aspects of construction projects to ensure that work is being performed according to TDOT standards and specifications; Writing Change Orders and submitting to the proper authorities for approval; Negotiating and approving prices for added work; Meeting with public, business owners, government officials to discuss any concerns they might have; Submitting updates and schedules of progress of construction projects; Measuring required quantities of work performed on construction projects and calculating monthly estimates for payment; Attending scheduled project meetings and working closely with all entities involved with a project to ensure that tasks are completed on schedule.

Responsibilities include: Identifying infrastructure issues of highway components for maintenance, repair, safety, environmental, and operational needs; Evaluating environmental, safety, and other features of structures and roadways visually before, during, and after the completion of assigned tasks to ensure compliance with standard drawings, plans, and specifications; Explaining project specific procedures and regulations to the general public, persons in other departments or divisions, or outside organizations and elected officials as required; Monitoring road conditions during snow and ice removal to ensure equipment and staff are allocated appropriately; Performing advanced calculations, such as vertical and horizontal alignments, related to measurements taken in the course of daily work activities to document work performed; Communicating information to business partners by creating letters, memos, and/or email; Participating in brainstorming sessions to develop process streamlining initiatives and improve business practices; Ensuring pay quantities for monthly progress payments are accurate and paid to the contractor; Drafting and plotting designs and elevation by sketching roadway elements on paper to model field measurements; Operating computerized testing equipment to conduct materials testing; Walking, crawling, and/or hiking through construction, inspection, and maintenance sites possibly including rough terrain and obstacles to facilitate task completion in a variety of environmental conditions.

Responsibilities include: Delivering geotechnical services or assisting with the management of a statewide asphalt materials program; making recommendations for roadway improvements, bridge foundations, retaining wall foundations, and construction issues; providing support for emergency geo-hazards such as karst sinkholes, landslides, and assist with rock fall mitigation; work with statewide asphalt mix design, conducting training, coordinating research, researching innovative products, and composing specifications and technical guidance documents.

Headquarters (downtown Nashville): This position will perform the railroad coordination for various transportation projects across the state. Some of the tasks associated with this role are reviewing plans for railroad involvement, attending meetings with various stakeholders, and reviewing estimates and plans for railroad work. In addition to the railroad coordination work, this position is also responsible for the monitoring of local governments (cities/counties) transportation projects. This includes reviewing correspondences between cities and utilities, checking plans and contracts and issuing certification letters authorizing the local governments to proceed with their projects.

Responsibilities include assisting in the preparation, development, and assembling of final roadway plans with the latest CADD computer technology. These roadway plans entail computing horizontal/vertical alignments, detailed design of storm drainage systems, prepared erosion control and traffic control plans, calculation of quantities and right-of ways, notes, cross-sections, etc. Engineers are also expected to attend and participate in field reviews and public hearings.

Responsibilities include performing “hands on” inspections of bridges on public roads in the field; identifying areas of deterioration of structural elements and documenting them through measurements and photographs for incorporation into a field report on the condition of the bridge. Destructive and non-destructive testing techniques are occasionally used to determine degree of section loss of the elements.

Responsibilities include the supervision of a survey field office and crew that collects pertinent survey data/information for all TDOT roadway and bridge projects. This information is collected by methods and technology including but not limited to, optics, levels, robotics, LiDAR and RTK GPS. This position is also responsible for the post processing and QA/QC of all data collected and the development of an existing engineering survey which includes all topographical, drainage, utilities, boundary and R.O.W. features on each project. All of this information is prepared in MicroStation and GEOPAK.

Responsibilities include assisting local governments and the public with finding solutions to various civil engineering problems or concerns, specifically related to the flow of traffic and safety concerns. Additional tasks include reviewing traffic control plans and preparing the sign and marking layouts, performing various traffic studies, such as, turning movement counts to be utilized in traffic signal warrant analysis, reviewing site development plans and performing traffic impact studies while recommending improvements to the highway entrance permit procedures, and designing plans for retrofits to existing geometry to address concerns. This position involves maintaining the work order system for signing and marking and preparing the annual pavement marking schedule for the state road system. Other duties would be to assist the Regional Traffic Engineer by providing technical guidance in all areas of the department.

Responsibilities include working to minimize impacts to environmental features (streams, wetlands, species) on TDOT projects, applying for state and federal environmental permits, and providing a permit assessment for plan development that meets all the of environmental requirements necessary for permit application. Additional tasks include coordinating with TDOT design and Operations staff to provide clarity of the permit requirements and to help resolve environmental issues identified during the construction phase of TDOT projects.  

Minimum Qualifications
All applicants must meet the following criteria to be considered for an interview.
  • B.S. in Civil Engineering* from a 4-year, accredited institution earned prior to application
  • Legally authorized to work in the U.S.
  • Must pass the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) eight-hour Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Examination within 11 months of starting employment with TDOT
*Registration as a professional engineer with the State of Tennessee in either the civil engineering or structural engineering discipline may substitute for the required bachelor's degree. 
GTA Salary Schedule
Qualifications Monthly Annual
B.S. Degree 
$4,240
$50,880
M.S. Degree or P.E.
$4,452
$53,424