Traffic Operations Practitioner Specialist® (TOPS)


The Traffic Operations Practitioner Specialist® (TOPS) certification program is designed as a broad assessment of knowledge in traffic operations and is for practitioners without professional licensure. This certification compliments the Professional Traffic Operations Engineer® (PTOE) certification and will not substitute for appropriate professional licenses when required for specific responsibilities or jurisdictions.



November 11, 2009

The Transportation Professional Certification Board (TPCB), affiliated with the Institute of Transportation Engineers, has the responsibility of overseeing certification programs to include Professional Traffic Operations Engineer® (PTOE), Professional Transportation Planner® (PTP), Road Safety Professional (RSP), Traffic Signal Operations Specialist® (TSOS), and Traffic Operations Transportation Specialist® (TOPS). TOPS was initiated in response to requests for additional credentialing in the area of traffic operations.

Although every effort has been made to attract applicants to the TOPS program, the response has been low. The TPCB initiated additional research and marketing efforts towards the TOPS program starting in April 2008. From the data gathered, it has been determined that the need for the certification and available applicants to the TOPS program is limited.

At the October 2009 TPCB board meeting, the board voted to no longer accept new applicants nor offer the exam for the TOPS certification program. This decision was made after completion of a comprehensive review of the three-year history of the program. TOPS has failed to meet reasonable expectations in terms of the number of applicants or certificants that were originally projected. In the process of reaching this decision the TPCB conducted surveys and used other techniques to better understand how both individuals and employers view the TOPS program and have determined that the prospect for a change in the adoption of the program is limited.

The expense to administer a certification program is extensive. It requires continual updating of the exams and significant administrative fees. For a program to be successful two factors are paramount. There must be a significant number of certificants for the program to be recognized by the profession. Secondly, there is a threshold of certificants that must be reached for the program to be financially viable. The board determined that neither of these goals could be reached.

The TPCB appreciates those who applied and attained the designation of TOPS. We believe the current certified individuals have shown a mastery of the subject areas and have set themselves apart as highly qualified individuals. We will continue to provide recognition and support to those who have achieved the TOPS designation. The board will continue to furnish descriptive material concerning the body of knowledge represented in the TOPS exam and the criteria that has been met for certification and recertification.

For those that have achieved the designation, TOPS will remain in place, although no new designations will be granted. The board encourages you to retain your certification through continuing education and professional development and has approved waiving all future recertification fees for current TOPS certificants.