Zoning Administrator: Job Description and Requirements

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

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Zoning administrators work for city or state governments evaluating and approving property use applications. These positions usually require experience in urban planning or zoning. The job growth outlook for this field is about average.

Essential Information

Zoning administrators enforce land-use codes within a municipality. They interpret these codes, review permit applications and coordinate enforcement efforts. Zoning administrators are generally required to have significant urban planning or zoning experience and a high school diploma or bachelor's degree in a related field.

Required Education Varies by municipality; high school diploma minimum, bachelor's degree in urban planning, engineering or related field may be required
Other Requirements Several years of experience in planning and zoning and a valid driver's license
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% for all urban and regional planners
Median Salary (2015)* $68,220 for all urban and regional planners

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Job Description for a Zoning Administrator

City and state governments employ zoning administrators to evaluate and approve property use. They're typically members of a municipality's planning commission, and their primary responsibilities include the interpretation a municipality's land-use codes and bylaws, the coordination of enforcement efforts and the promotion of zoning information.

Job Duties

Zoning administrators review applications for rezoning and issue building construction, change-of-use and conditional-use permits. Examples of issues that fall under a zoning administrator's purview include signage, proper storage of industrial vehicles and commercial usage of residential areas. While they are responsible for issuing zoning code violation warnings and fines, they also often consider variances, or exceptions, to these codes.

Their duties include regular public hearings with applicants, as well as those who may oppose the issuing of a specific permit. Zoning administrators prepare both oral and written presentations containing their interpretations or clarifications of codes. They may also advise or consult with developers on how their proposals can be in compliance.

Additional duties include advising the planning commission and other city administrators on ordinance revision, historical preservation and long-term strategic planning. They maintain all related permit documentation and are responsible for processing and recording fees.

Requirements to Become a Zoning Administrator

Zoning administrators typically have several years of experience in either the urban planning or zoning fields. Some municipalities appoint planning commission staff members to the position of zoning administrator, while others seek outside applicants.

Education requirements vary by municipality. The completion of high school is the minimum requirement for low-level administrators in some areas. Other municipalities seek individuals who have completed a 4-year bachelor's degree program in urban planning, architecture or such related fields as engineering. Additionally, they must have a valid driver's license.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

Urban and regional planners are professionals who are responsible for the development and planning of land use, including the development of zoning policies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), urban and regional planners are expected to see a 6% increase in employment from 2014-2024, which is as fast as average for all occupations nationally. As of May 2015, the BLS reported that these professionals earned a median annual salary of $68,220.

Educational requirements for zoning administrators vary by state or municipality. Some may only require a high school diploma, while others require a bachelor's degree in a related field. Those in zoning administration jobs can expect an annual median salary of about $68,000.

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