Urban planners develop plans and programmes for land use that improve and renovate communities. By working alongside public officials, developers and the general public, urban planners improve economic, social and environmental issues. Their job involves developing plans for new schools or parks, providing shelters for the homeless, finding locations for new roads, and making areas more attractive for businesses.
- Improve, renovate and enhance communities and physical facilities in cities
- Advance economic, social and environmental issues in communities
- Develop and implement plans and programmes for land use
- Work alongside public officials, developers and the public to develop plans
- Conduct government plans regarding land use
- Use technical software for statistics, data visualisation and presentations
- Perform market research, field investigations, censuses, and economic and environmental studies
- Review and improve site plans
- Approve or reject proposals
- Demonstrate projects to public officials, developers, planning officials and the public
- Keep updated on zoning and building codes and environmental and legal regulations
Skills and qualities
As an urban planner, you can typically progress into becoming a senior planner, which is a more supervisory position. With the right education and adequate experience, you may also move on to similar roles such as architect, geographer or political scientist.
Some evenings or weekends
Urban planners are typically located in rural areas but most work in the city. They spend a lot of their working day outdoors as they make plans and assess sites for development. Urban planners also work in an office environment, where most of their research and project planning takes place. These professionals travel to review various lands and sites and to meet other real estate developers or architects.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
Qualifications and training
Master’s degree in urban planning
Urban planners must obtain a Master of Urban Planning (MUP) from an accredited urban or regional planning programme before applying for a job. Most aspiring urban planners hold a bachelor’s degree in economics, geography, political science or environmental design before embarking on postgraduate education, which typically takes four years to complete.
Although certainly not mandatory, applicants with prior experience in a similar role (such as in architecture, public policy or economic development) are more attractive candidates for entry-level positions. Those who partake in internships and have experience in planning real projects also have better employment opportunities.
Licensing is not typically required, except for those working in New Jersey. Urban planners also have the option of gaining certification from institutions such as the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).
SourcesAmerican Planning Association (APA) Bureau of Labor Statistics O*NET Online Oxford Martin School
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022