You may consider a career as an urban or regional planner if you want to make decisions about land development and building projects for a particular area, often for the area's local government. To become a planner, you must hold a master's degree in regional or urban planning. Job growth in this field is expected to be as fast as the national average for the next 10 years.
Urban or regional planners are typically employed by local governments, and their primary job is to aid elected officials in the making decisions about land development and regional or community projects. A master's degree in regional or urban planning is the typical educational requirement for entering this career. Some states, such as New Jersey and Michigan, have licensure or registration requirements. Optional certification is available through the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).
|Required Education||Master's degree in regional or urban planning|
|Other Requirements||State licensure or registration in New Jersey and Michigan; optional certification|
|Projected Job Growth||6% from 2014-2024*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$68,220 annually*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Salary Information for an Urban Planner
The American Planning Association's 2014 data indicates the median income for planners was $75,800 per year (www.planning.org). A planner's actual salary depends on several factors including level of education, professional experience and the city or region of employment. In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that most urban and regional planners had annual salaries in the $42,940-$102,220 range (www.bls.gov).
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Career Information for an Urban Planner
The demand for urban or regional planners is expected to grow at a rate of 6% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. Most urban or regional planners are employed by local governments, but some may find employment with non-profit organizations or private organizations.
Entry-level positions in urban planning require applicants to hold a master's degree in regional or urban planning. Urban or regional planners must have a working knowledge of land use and development, research methods and geography. Additional educational requirements include knowledge of building and zoning codes and legislation on the local, state and federal levels.
The primary goal of urban planners is to improve or maintain the quality of life in a city or region by ensuring that social, economic and environmental resource problems are quickly solved as a region grows and changes. To achieve this goal, urban planners find research solutions for equitable and sustainable designs in a city such as new buildings, infrastructures, public housing and parks. They are responsible for collecting data from census reports, market research studies, demographic databases and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
Planners must prepare a report and present their reports to the governing body. A planner's level of involvement in city projects can vary from project manager to consultant. In either role, they will have to work with elected officials, contractors, architects and inspectors.
To summarize, a planner must be meticulous and enjoy research, reporting, and liaising with governments and development companies. They need a master's degree in regional or urban planning in order to start a career, and some states require licensure as well. The BLS reported the median salary for urban and regional planners was about $68,000 in 2015, and jobs were expected to grow at an average rate from 2014-2024.