Many very different jobs come with the title of “traffic manager,” from careers in media to those in system administration. As a general rule, all of these positions require the management of workflow, whether it is the movement of vehicle traffic, the assignment of jobs in an advertising agency or another type of workflow. Employment requirements can depend on the job and the industry, and they might include having a college degree as well as relevant experience, although some companies accept candidates for on-the-job training.
In public works, shipping and related fields, a traffic manager controls the flow of train, car, boat, bus, ship and other vehicle traffic. This person typically handles traffic at a location such as an airport, city or port, and he or she might supervise other employees. In addition to monitoring traffic and anticipating traffic needs, the traffic manager also considers necessary infrastructure improvement and maintenance, such as filling potholes.
In workplaces such as advertising agencies and television stations, the traffic manager controls the workflow to make sure that everyone is working efficiently and is working on the proper projects. At an ad agency, this might involve determining the schedule for a release and scheduling employees appropriately. For television production, the traffic manager considers production needs, advertising placement and other factors that might play a role in the organizational workflow. This person works with the heads of various departments to coordinate their work and keep them functional.
Traffic managers also work in computer science and system administration. Although automated programs to control and assign network traffic are available, sometimes a human supervisor is necessary. This person can re-route traffic to address issues such as compromised servers, a sudden flood of traffic or a a problem at another facility that is slowing down traffic. In addition to reacting to crises, the traffic manager can also plan ahead for events that might disrupt traffic, such as a new product release.
Adequate preparation for a career as a traffic manager can depend on the industry. For system administration, for example, it is critical for a candidate to have a degree in computer science, and it might be helpful for him or her to have additional professional certifications. A traffic manager at a television station or advertising agency, on the other hand, might learn the skills on the job, starting as an administrative assistant who provides support to a supervisor. Many of these fields require good communications and organizing skills as well as the ability to look holistically at a network of information without being distracted by small details.