How To Become An Urban Planner
Urban planners are responsible for developing plans and programs for utilizing the land. An urban planner’s expertise and knowledge help construct accommodate large populations of individuals, communities, and revitalize areas within cities, towns, and metropolitan areas. Urban planners meet with public officials, communities, and developers regarding outlines for developing the land.
Analyzing economic and environmental data, market research, and censuses are all part of an urban planner’s job responsibilities. They conduct research and investigations on land usage, site plans, and proposals. Understanding environmental regulations, building codes, and legal issues are a vital part of an urban planner’s duties.
Why Become An Urban Planner
Urban planners identify, investigate, and develop short-term and long-term plans for communities and areas. They create plans for proposed buildings, facilities, or spaces to meet the ever-changing needs of a population. Urban planners act as activists for individuals and communities; they are the voice of a community when deciding the best use for a community’s land and resources.
Organizing community groups, overseeing projects, and carrying out community plans are a part of an urban planner’s job. In order to create new buildings or areas for land usage, urban planners utilize Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which analyze population density. Financial spreadsheets, database software, statistical software, and presentation software play a crucial role in presenting information about a community to public officials. The job of an urban planner is incredibly rewarding, as they can be the voice and action of a community.
Skills & Qualities for Urban Planners
If you are seeking employment within the field of urban planning, it’s important to possess the following qualities and skills in order to obtain an urban planner position.
- Communication Skills – Urban planners must be able to effectively and clearly communicate their findings and expertise to community members, public officials, and developers.
- Analytical Skills – As an urban planner, it imperative that you have exemplary analytical skills. Analyzing economic and environmental data, market research, and censuses are all part of an urban planner’s job responsibilities. Additionally, urban planners conduct research and investigations on land usage, site plans, and proposals. Understanding environmental regulations, building codes, and legal issues are a vital part of an urban planner’s duties.
- Management & Decision-Making Skills – Urban planners must be incredibly organized and have strong management skills when planning assignments, making difficult decisions, and overseeing or prioritizing tasks. Furthermore, urban planners must be able to make difficult or swift decisions when planning assignments. They must be realistic and creative when choosing the appropriate design or plan for an area.
- Writing Skills – As an urban planner, you must have exemplary writing skills in order to write urban planning grant proposals, prepare written research reports, and correspondence with public officials or community members.
Urban Planner Work Environment
Urban planners are typically employed by the government, real estate developers, nonprofit organizations, and consulting firms. Urban planners work with many individuals such as community members, public officials, architects, lawyers, engineers, and developers. The work of an urban planner can be stressful, as they may be balancing negotiation deals, deadlines, and conflicts of interest with a community. Urban planners travel to worksites to inspect land use, development sites, and land conditions.
Urban Planner Salary
In 2012, the Occupational Employment and Wages Report of the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor recorded the mean annual wage of an urban planner was $65,230. The median annual wage of an urban planner is dependent upon experience and education.
Average Urban Planner Annual Salary
The average annual salary for urban planners is $74,350 a year. Salaries start at $44,680 a year and go up to $108,170 a year.
Average Urban Planner Hourly Wage
The average hourly wage for a urban planner is $35.75. Hourly wages are between $21.48 and $52.01 an hour.
Stats were based out of 35,310 employed urban planners in the United States.
Highest Paying States For Urban Planners
- 1. District of Columbia $47.84 / hr $99,520 / yr
- 2. California $42.96 / hr $89,350 / yr
- 3. Nevada $39.97 / hr $83,130 / yr
- 4. Massachusetts $39.30 / hr $81,740 / yr
- 5. Alaska $38.88 / hr $80,870 / yr
Top Paying Cities For Urban Planners
- 1. San Francisco, CA $50.40 / hr$104,820 / yr
- 2. San Jose, CA $49.86 / hr$103,710 / yr
- 3. Anaheim, CA $49.36 / hr$102,670 / yr
- 4. Napa, CA $45.73 / hr$95,110 / yr
- 5. Los Angeles, CA $45.45 / hr$94,530 / yr
Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Urban Planner Career Outlook
The career outlook for an urban planner appears to be quite promising. From 2012 to 2022, the overall employment of urban planners is expected to grow 10%. Environmental and population growth will create demand for urban planners throughout cities and suburban areas.
Urban Planner Degree
If you wish to pursue a career in urban planning, you will need to obtain both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Urban Planning. A Bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning will include coursework such as urban neighborhood analysis, government budgets, site planning, and public and private development. Additional coursework or double majors may vary with your interests and may include topics such as environmental design, civil engineering, landscape architecture, and public administration. It is vital to complete an internship in areas such as public development and community planning. Upon graduation from a Bachelor’s degree program, you may find employment as an assistant or a junior urban planner.
A Master’s degree in Urban Planning will include workshops, laboratory courses, and seminars in the field of urban planning. Furthermore, throughout the aforementioned areas of study, urban planners will solve and analyze urban planning issues in populated areas. Graduation with a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Urban Planning will require certification to work within the field. The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) requires prospective urban planners to complete certain education and experience requirements. Prospective urban planners will have to pass a written exam to become certified.