Architectural Planner: Career Summary

Sep 11, 2019

Whether you're an architect or an urban planner, as an architectural planner your job is to design safe functional structures for a variety of uses. Learn about education and licensing requirements as well as salary and job growth expectations for both these fields.

Essential Information

The term architectural planning can refer to the job tasks performed by architects or urban planners. An architect works on the concept, design and construction of structures. An urban planner coordinates a community's layout.

Career Architect Urban Planner
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Master's degree
Other Requirements State license Certification may be required by some employers
Job Growth* (2018-2028) 8% 11% for urban and regional planners
Median Salary* (2018) $79,380 annually $73,050 annually for urban and regional planners

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

An architect designs structures for human use, such as office buildings or residential complexes. They ensure that a structure is safe and functional. An urban planner studies the issues affecting a community and make recommendations about where buildings, public utilities and other structures should be located. They work with local governments and officials to ensure that a community's land is used as best as possible. Keep reading for more information on these two architectural planning careers.


To work as an architect, every state requires that an individual graduate from an architectural program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board, complete an internship after graduation and pass the Architect Registration Exam (ARE). The required internship, referred to as the 'Intern Development Program', lasts three years. Its components are established by the American Institute of Architects and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. The ARE exam consists of nine parts. Each state independently determines the length of time an individual has to pass each part. Each state establishes licensure requirements separately, so additional requirements may be necessary depending on the individual's residence.

Bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in architecture are available. A bachelor's degree program may last five years. Master's degree programs are available as a Master of Architecture (M.Arch) and a Master of Science (M.S.) in Architecture. The former of these programs prepares students for architectural practice, while the latter does not. Doctoral programs in architecture are research oriented and prepare students for teaching or scholarship.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected employment opportunities for architects to increase 8% over the 2018-2028 decade. These professionals earned a median annual salary of $79,380 in 2018.

Urban Planners

The majority of planners have master's degrees in the field. Degree options include a Master of Community Planning (MCP) or a dual M.Arch and MCP program. These programs may be accredited by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning or the American Planning Association. MCP programs require two years of study, while dual programs take longer to complete. Doctoral programs in urban and regional planning and design are also available. These programs prepare students to teach. Voluntary certification is available through the American Institute of Certified Planners.

The BLS anticipates job opportunities to grow 11% for urban and regional planners during the years 2018-2028. The BLS reported in 2018 that urban and regional planners earned $73,050 as a median annual wage.

Architects need at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited program, and they must complete an internship and pass an exam to become board certified. Most urban planners hold master's degrees, and professional certification is available. Jobs in both fields are growing at an average rate.

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