Urban Planner Careers

Next time you go out for a walk or take a drive take a look at what’s around you. There’s retail space, open space, schools, and residential areas. Hopefully, it all seems to flow and work well in your community. Do you ever wonder who plans out how your community will be laid out? That’s the job of an urban planner.

Urban planners design, create, and develop communities. It’s a demanding job that looks at the big picture of an entire urban, suburban, or regional area. Urban planners help to formulate a plan for how land, space, and infrastructure will be used. Their work leaves a long-standing legacy on the community for decades to come.

Urban Planners Orchestrate the Layout for Cities and Towns

Every urban planning project starts with an overview of the current and future community. Urban planners work with city leaders, planning committees, developers, the public, and other urban planners to create a master plan. That master plan must consider things like economics, environment, population growth, social trends, sustainability, pollution, traffic, values, zoning, crime, and other factors. It requires extensive research and accurate estimates to determine a plan that works the best for the community as a whole.

Urban planners must consider every single detail. Where roads will go? Which areas should be commercial? Which should be residential? How many open spaces and parks are necessary? What type of public transportation should be utilized? Does everything comply with local zoning and coding regulations? What does the future hold for this community? Every factor must be considered in detail before a master plan for a community can be approved.

Utilizing census data, community statistics, government spreadsheets, and info from similar communities, it’s the urban planner’s job to gather and analyze information about the community to determine the best course of action. Once the plan is in place, they must meet with public officials, developers, and the public to see if it is feasible, functional, and agreeable. This requires constant negotiating to ensure that the majority approves of both short-term plans and long-term visions.

It’s challenging to get a project approved that appeals to everyone and that considers all of the factors. But ultimately seeing a community blossom is a rewarding feeling. Once a project is approved, the urban planner will review site plans, make any necessary changes and recommendations, and oversee the project.

To become an urban planner, you must complete a Master’s Degree from one of 72+ accredited planning programs in the US. Many urban planners choose to specialize in specific niches like transportation, building, environmental, housing, international development, or economic development. Specialization makes an urban planner more employable.

Next you must earn a professional certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners. This requires the proper education, experience, examinations, and continuing education. If you want to work in New Jersey, you are also required to have a license.



According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an urban planner can find jobs with towns, cities, counties, metro areas, developers, planning firms, and local governments. Currently, there are 38,700 planners in the US. The planning niche is expected to grow by 10% by 2022. On average, a professional and certified urban planner can earn $31.36 per hour or $65,230 per year. Pay depends on experience, location, project, and other variables.

If you’re looking for a green profession with sustainability, design, and community as the focus, then consider a career as an urban planner. It’s a cool job that has a lasting, positive impact on your community.

Quick Facts About Urban Planner Jobs

Job Title: Urban Planner aka City Planner aka Regional Planner
Office: Planning Office
Description: Design, create, and develop communities
Certifications/Education: Master’s Degree, AICP certification
Necessary Skills: Attention to detail, Negotiating, Planning
Potential Employers: Cities, Towns, Counties, Local Government
Pay: $31.36 per hour or $65,230 per year

Helpful Urban Planner Employment Links:

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