Careers at KAI

Many People, Many Roles, One Focus


KAI continually seeks people who share our enthusiasm for the transportation profession and our excitement in having a positive impact on our communities. Such candidates are sought after for professional, administrative, technical, and corporate roles. Our firm has a specific interest in helping individuals find the career path best suited for them. Many of our employees come from different backgrounds and experiences, which adds to our diversity and allows us to offer unique perspectives on all aspects of project work and careers. The KAI core values and commitment to hiring people who share similar goals, principles, and outward focus lead to natural and real friendships that transcend the workplace. The office environment at KAI is energetic, team-oriented, and professional. All staff levels leave their office doors open to encourage free discussion of problems and questions. This team approach results in a high level of trust and respect among staff. The interaction promotes an environment where staff members at all levels and all roles are open and willing to help each other and call on others.

Types of Careers

Ideally, KAI seeks to be the place where individuals grow personally and professionally, as opposed to simply providing a job to a person seeking employment. The interests and passions of our staff lead and direct the firm's activities, whether it's venturing into new applied research areas or using state-of-the-art technologies and practices in our work. By following our staff, we create opportunities for all employees. Thus, we look for professional, administrative, technical, and corporate staff who will take advantage of the opportunities provided and create new ones for others.

Transportation Analyst

KAI offers a unique experience to new transportation analysts entering the industry. In the beginning of their career at KAI, analysts are mentored by at least one senior engineer or planner dedicated to the analysts' professional development. While in this mentorship program, analysts will perform a wide variety of project tasks under the guidance of an experienced engineer/planner. These tasks include traffic operations analysis, functional design, transportation planning, safety analysis, signal design, roundabout study, research, and technical writing. Transportation analysts also have the opportunity to conduct and manage field surveys and data collection. Further, analysts have opportunities to gain diverse project experiences, participate in client and project team coordination, travel, consider geographic options, and be involved in public processes. Beyond the technical element of their work, analysts' perspectives and contributions are sought in company-wide planning efforts, intern mentorship opportunities, internal committees and task forces, and the recruiting and interviewing process.

Project Manager

KAI project managers are service-oriented and collaborate with internal and external team members to guide and deliver project work. Project managers prepare the scope of work, fee estimate, and contract for each project, considering each client's unique project needs. They schedule staff and coordinate with internal managers to ensure adequate resources are available. KAI project managers help develop staff and ensure transportation analysts have the knowledge, resources, and tools necessary to conduct analyses. KAI project managers are the "face" of the firm to the client and public. The decisions and actions of KAI project managers balance and reflect the best interests of the firm, the client, the profession, and society; they are responsible for assessing risk and resolving conflicts. A successful project manager proactively manages the needs and expectations of clients, team members, and all others with which KAI interacts.

Project Principal

KAI project principals provide project management and client relations support. Specifically, project principals transfer their experience through considering strategic and tactical project work needs that can benefit the client and KAI project manager. A principal's role can vary by assignment. Some projects require a special emphasis on project management support (scope of work, schedule, and budget) while other projects may require principals to provide a stronger technical role. In all cases, the emphasis is placed on helping the client and KAI project managers develop solutions that meet the project's needs. Internally, KAI project principals help emphasize staff development. A project principal may serve this role on projects across several KAI offices and, in doing so, benefit a wide variety of staff. A successful project principal identifies project needs and expected levels of effort early, interacts with the project manager (and client, as needed) throughout the key steps of the project, and collaborates with the project team to achieve a successful final product.


KAI administrators work in a wide variety of roles. Administrators help the engineers and planners carry out the activities that keep the offices and firm running smoothly. Given the unique firm-wide perspective at KAI, each administrator contributes to the firm in a different way, one that is in line with personal interests and skills. Some of the more standard tasks of administrators include answering phones, shipping, ordering supplies, and arranging travel. In addition, some KAI administrators work in areas such as proposal development, marketing, technical editing and writing, and hiring coordination. Administrators are encouraged to explore the ways their range of skills can contribute to the firm's success.

Business Services

KAI business services staff members primarily focus on supporting and developing our people, and on managing the firm's physical and financial resources. They are integral team members and not just a "corporate" function. They work closely with our staff in many areas of our business. Our human resources staff provides a wide range of assistance, from new hire orientation to managing employee benefit programs, from paid-time-off system management to immigration process coordination, and from performance review support to staff development plans / coaching. Our business staff manages the risks facing KAI such as the review, negotiation, and execution of reasonable contract provisions with clients, employment law compliance, and negotiation of billing rates and overhead rates with third parties. Finally, our accountants draft and issue client billings and process payments. Our accountants also support daily operations through processing payroll, check requests, and expense reports. Each facet of business services works to support staff and clients in an efficient, friendly manner.

IT Services

KAI offers a challenging experience to IT technicians. Our IT staff supports users across the country and often has the opportunity to travel among our offices. Specifically, the IT staff provides support to users on a variety of issues related to software, hardware, telephone, and computer networks; they design, develop, and implement applications that benefit the company and its clients; manage and maintain the overall system to minimize downtime; and test, evaluate, and implement new solutions to keep KAI on the leading edge of technology.

Creative Services

KAI graphic designers have many unique opportunities in the field of graphic communications. Many KAI projects involve public events requiring presentation graphics in a wide range of media. Static presentation display boards, slide presentations, animated graphics, video, offset lithography, and the web are all used on projects across a wide range of geographic locations. Effective graphic communication is frequently a key element in the success of many KAI projects. Often KAI projects require highly technical information to be presented in an understandable format to facilitate the communication of complex engineering concepts to a non-technical audience; many times the key decision makers on a project are non-engineers unfamiliar with engineering jargon. This distillation of complex technical concepts requires a high level of graphical visualization and translation. In addition, at KAI all graphic design related to corporate image, business development, and proposal preparation is handled in-house. Similar to the graphic communication on KAI projects, the graphic facet of proposals is often a key element that successfully conveys the value of our services to potential clients.

Technical Services

KAI Technical Services staff provides technical drafting and design support to the firm. These technicians assist engineers and planners in the production of graphic report figures, conceptual and analytical plans and sketches, and final design/construction plans. KAI Technicians maintain an expertise in several computer-aided drafting and design software programs including AutoCAD, Microstation, and ArcGIS. KAI technicians are essential to producing project deliverables in a timely and accurate manner. They have a strong knowledge of jurisdictional requirements for several different agencies and municipalities as well as plan and graphic production. KAI technicians also assist with geometric analyses by using add-on software programs such as Auto-Turn. Finally, our technicians assist with project coordination by communicating with clients and agencies to ensure our products reflect the most current and accurate data.

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I really love the kind of work we get to do within the profession as a whole. It's very fun and it feels very meaningful to make a difference in communities and for our clients.

Brian Ray, PE, Senior Principal Engineer, Portland