Career Advice on How to Become An Urban and Regional Planner

General Career Information

Urban and regional planners help determine how land will be used within a community.  In theory, the way the land will be used will have an overall benefit for the community as a whole.  In order to help this process along, urban and regional planners work to help government officials use land in new ways that will address specific problems that the community might be having, whether economic, social or even environmental.  Due to the nature of their work, urban and regional planners are well aware of regulations, zoning and of course, the requirements and needs of the local population.

Career Facts:

Urban and regional planners are the people that look at a community’s current situation, factor in the social, economic and environmental problems it faces, and then recommends solutions.  These solutions may range from public housing to a new school or a variety of other large work projects.  Many urban and regional planners will focus on environmental issues and problems and how they can best be addressed and dealt with in a logical manner.  Protecting the environment is, at least in theory, a high priority.


Career Opportunities and Job Outlook- Above Average:

The rate of job growth for an urban and regional planner is expected to be a rather healthy nineteen percent between 2008 and 2018.  The fastest rate of job growth should be in the private sector as architecture and engineering firms are increasingly hiring urban and regional planners to work with them on environmental regulations, permits and related issues.
Job Outlook is Fair

A Day in The Life:

Urban and regional planners must deal with blank stares as part of the job, as urban and regional planners have a secret magical power.  That magical power is the ability to send people off into another dream like realm whenever they start to talk about the ultra-boring specifics of their job.  If this is a job that sounds like it’s up your alley, then you have found your calling and should start your job search immediately.

If you can get beyond the blank stare, you have made progress.  Expect to work with such people as politicians and land developers.  As an urban and regional planner, much of your day will be spent trying to explain why “X Project” is good for “X Community,” even if “X Community” hates “X Project.”

Average Salary:

The average urban and region planner can expect to earn about $60,000 per year, with the top ten percent earning about $91,000.

$60k - $91k


Career Training and Qualifications:

Usually urban and regional planners are expected to hold master’s degrees, with candidates usually coming from such undergraduate backgrounds as geography, political science or environmental design.  As of 2009, there were 67 programs that were offering master’s degrees in this field.  Fun stuff like statistics and computer science, yes computer science, are often included in the degree program.
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