Regional Planning Training and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a regional planner. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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A regional planner must be knowledgeable of geography, economics, and environmental design, usually achieved through a master's degree program. Training also involves becoming adept in various software programs.

Essential Information

Most planning jobs require an advanced planning degree. Completion of various undergraduate degree programs, including environmental design, geography, and economics will generally qualify students for admission to an urban or regional planning master's degree program. Undergraduate and graduate students can gain practical experience by working as a planning intern. Certification is also available to planners. The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), the American Planning Association's (APA) certifying agency, offers both a certified planner designation and an advanced specialty certification.

Career Urban and Regional Planner
Required Education Master's Degree
Certification Options American Institute of Certified Planners credential is voluntary
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6%
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $68,220

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Regional Planners

A regional planner may work in many different settings, including state or federal government agencies, private architectural or scientific consulting firms, and city or county government offices. Planners who work for local governments may be also called city or community planners.

Planners need to have good spatial skills and knowledge of computer programs, especially programs concerning databases, spreadsheets and GIS. Planners may be called upon to prepare and present plans or proposals at public meetings, and therefore good communication skills, both speaking and writing, are also important.

Job Description

Regional planners use geographic, economic and demographic data to create development plans for metropolitan areas, rural communities and other types of geographic regions. They may work on a larger scale, for statewide or multi-state plans regarding land or resource use. Planners often focus on one or more aspects of a region, and make planning for that aspect a specialty. Professional specialties include parks and recreation, housing, historic preservation and natural resource planning.

Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median salary for urban and regional planners of $68,220 as of May 2015.

Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment of urban and regional planners to increase 6% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). In May 2015, the BLS reported that there were roughly 35,480 employed planners. The highest concentrations of jobs were in local governments, architectural and engineering firms, and state governments.

The regional or urban planner works for state, local, or federal government to make land use and infrastructure developments, which requires design skills and the ability to interpret and utilize economic, geographical, and demographic data. A graduate degree is commonly required by employers, and certification is also available.

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