Regional Planner: Job & Career Info

Keep reading to learn what regional planners do. Learn what kind of education and training are required for regional planning jobs. See about career prospects and earning potential to decide if this career field is right for you.

Career Definition of a Regional Planner

Regional planners create long- and short-term plans for the use of land in their communities. Regional planners write detailed reports on current land use and recommend new land usage, such as where to build schools and roads or make changes to zoning laws. Many regional planners specialize within the field in areas such as the environment, transportation planning or code enforcement.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in a related field
Job Skills Versed in land use & related laws, planning and recommendations, communication skills
Median Salary (2015)* $68,220 for all urban and regional planners
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 6% job growth for all urban and regional planners

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

A bachelor's degree is required for a career in regional planning, although job prospects are greater for those with master's degrees in fields such as urban planning or regional planning. The Planning Accreditation Board (www.planningaccreditationboard.org) certifies 72 master's and 15 bachelor's degree programs in the United States. Classes in these planning programs include land use law and urban economics.

Required Skills

In addition to having extensive knowledge of land use and related laws, regional planners must be able to plan ahead and visualize the impact of their recommendations. Regional planners also must have strong written and verbal communication skills.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), employment of regional planners is expected to grow 6% from 2014-2024. Most new jobs for regional planners will relate to local government and will be created in rapidly growing, affluent communities. BLS figures show that, in May 2015, the median salary for regional planners was $68,200.

Alternative Career Options

Additional career choices for regional planners

Civil Engineer

A civil engineer takes part in all phases of construction projects, from design to completion. Projects may include bridges, roads, and transportation facilities. Civil engineers' duties may include drawing up plans, estimating costs, preparing and filing permit applications, and making public presentations about planned projects. It's possible to get an entry-level job with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from an ABET-accredited program; however, career advancement requires a graduate degree and professional licensing. State licensing requirements apply when civil engineers provide their services in a public capacity. Professional licensing requires extensive experience and passing several exams. Civil engineering jobs are predicted to increase 8% from 2014-2024, per the BLS. The BLS also reports that civil engineers earned median pay of $82,220 in 2015.

Surveyor

A surveyor uses special instruments to take measurements of land for purposes like real estate and construction. Surveyors work outdoors staking property lines and recording coordinates; they also prepare reports that describe and map their findings to share with clients. A bachelor's degree in a relevant field is required for employment; state licensing is also generally required when surveyors do public work. Licensing requirements often include completion of an ABET-accredited program and sitting for an exam. The BLS predicts that the number of jobs for surveyors will decline 2% from 2014-2024. The BLS also reports that surveyors earned median pay of $58,020 in 2015.

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