Community Planning Careers

Apr 17, 2019

Community planning work involves designing plans or crafting recommendations for projects that will support improving a community's land use, environmental impact, and economic development. Keep reading to explore career possibilities in this field.

Career Options for Community Planners

Community planning and development concentrates on maximizing the livability of a community, which could be a town, city, county, or region. Community planning can involve evaluating land use, housing, infrastructure, financial allocations, and economic development strategies. A community planning professional may also take a community's natural resources, history, and culture into consideration on a project. Some career options in this field are outlined below.

Job Title Median Annual Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Urban and Regional Planner $73,050 13%
Social and Community Service Managers $65,320 18%
Transportation Planner $81,340 (Social scientists and related workers, all other) 7% (Social scientists and related workers, all other)
Environmental Engineer $87,620 8%
Geographer $80,300 7%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Community Planning

Urban and Regional Planner

Urban and regional planners frequently work for local governments but may also work for architectural firms or consulting services. Planners make recommendations for land use, enforce zoning, and plan public transit. Planners may specialize as well, focusing on developing communities while maintaining the natural environment or preserving an area's history. Though some positions require a bachelor's degree, many positions require a master's degree in planning.

Social and Community Service Managers

Social and community service managers oversee the programs, activities, and staff of a social service agency or organization that serves a community. Their responsibilities could include measuring a program's effectiveness, managing a budget, and planning outreach activities. A social and community service manager may be employed by a local government, nonprofit organization, or nursing facility. This management position typically requires a bachelor's degree and experience in a field like counseling or social work.

Transportation Planner

Transportation planners design new roadways and modify existing roadways to best meet the needs of a community. In addition to roadways, a transportation planner may evaluate and design public transit systems or improve options for bicyclists. Transportation planners can use transportation data and geographic information systems to formulate plans. Transportation planning positions may require a master's degree or a combination of a bachelor's degree and experience.

Environmental Engineer

Environmental engineers identify solutions to environmental problems that are relevant to everyday life in a community. They can be involved in planning for a community's waste management, recycling, pollution control, or access to water. Environmental engineers also advise on environmental sustainability and the environmental impact of a land development, transit, or infrastructure project. This career requires a bachelor's degree.


Geography is the study of the features of the Earth and the relationship between populations and their locations. Planners with a geography background are equipped to study a location and make recommendations for the placement of buildings, roads, and other infrastructure. Entry-level positions may require a bachelor's degree, with graduate degrees typically required for advancement.

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