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Town Planner: Duties, Responsiblities and Job Information

Becoming a town planner requires a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the requirements and job duties to see if this is the right career for you.

Town planners are part of a smaller category of urban and regional planners who focus on making an individual town economically efficient and environmentally friendly. They work with local officials, analyzing and researching how to improve things and add new additions in a particular town.

Essential Information

Town planners use collected data to make recommendations to local officials that aid towards the healthy development of their community. A minimum of a bachelor's degree is required for the position, though most town planners hold master's degrees in a planning-related program, bolstering their ability to move up in the profession.

Required Education Master's degree (in most cases)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for urban and regional planners
Median Salary (2015)* $68,220 for urban and regional planners

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities

A town planner's main responsibility is to ease or avoid social, economic and environmental problems within their town of employment. They achieve this by making recommendations to local elected officials that reflect the needs of the town.

Their recommendations for neighborhood sectors or citywide may work to alleviate current problems or they may make proposals for new legislation or buildings. When approaching an existing problem planners must identify the root of the problem as well as any related issues. When proposing a new facility or regulation, it is crucial that planners make recommendations only after extensive research and data collection in order to make suggestions that are in the town's best interest, and lessen the chance that problems will arise in the future.

When making recommendations to local government officials, including zoning, proposals for new public buildings, parks or utilities, town planners should keep in mind the long and short-term goals for the town's growth. Another major responsibility of a town planner is to develop these goals, most likely through research and discussions with elected officials. In keeping these goals in mind, planners work to ensure that the environment, economy and society are flourishing as the town grows.

Job Info

Local government employs most town planners, but a few may find employment with non-profit organizations or private companies, including real estate development or planning firms. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for urban or regional planners is expected to grow at an average rate when compared with other occupations; the number of jobs is predicted to grow 6% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov).

The BLS notes that a bachelor's degree is a minimum requirement for the profession, but many urban planners also hold master's degrees and are more suitable for advancement within the profession. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for urban and regional planners in 2015 was $68,220. Typically the planners in the higher salary range have more experience, possibly a master's degree or higher, and generally these planners work for larger cities.

As a town planner, you can work in government agencies or planning firms to create and carry out plans for town development and prosperity. A bachelor's degree in a relevant field will suffice, but most planners hold a master's in addition to experience.

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