How to Become an Urban Planner

Urban planners are given the task of planning urban areas to ensure that they have all that they need to prosper as they grow. This is a vital task, but often one that others don’t know exists until they are in need of a zoning change for a piece of real estate. If you are interested in this career option, learning a bit more about it would be valuable.

Job Overview

How to Become an Urban Planner

Besides the required degrees, there are no licensure requirements for a career as an urban planner, unless you live in New Jersey.

An urban planner works within cities to determine where the various infrastructures of the city will be planned. They are consulted when new developments, both commercial and residential, are considered so that the city can grow and expand in a way that accounts for the needs of its residents. This requires strong analytical skills, as the planner will analyze the field to determine what proposals should be approved or denied and what changes need to be made to grow the city in a logical way. They will work in an office setting with many trips into the field to gather data and conduct research.

Requirements and Certification

Besides the required degrees, there are no licensure requirements for a career as an urban planner, unless you live in New Jersey. As of 2011 only New Jersey required licensure for urban planners. Michigan has a registration program for urban planners who wish to sue the title of Community Planner.

That said, the American Institute of Certified Planners does offer a professional certification. While this is not required, it does help urban planners look professional and dedicated to their field. This makes it a good idea for those who are serious about having a career in this industry.

Typical Education

A master’s degree in urban planning is considered the entry-level degree requirement for this field. There is no specific undergraduate degree necessary, but degrees in economics or architecture are helpful.

Steps to Become an Urban Planner

Before you can become an urban planner, you must first complete an undergraduate degree in a field compatible with this job, such as geography, economics, environmental design or political science. Then, once you have completed that, apply to a master’s degree program in a school with an accredited urban planner degree program.

Getting the right degree is just the first series of steps, however. Next, you will need some actual job experience. This could be from an internship during your graduate training, or by working in the real estate industry or in agriculture for a while after graduation. One to two years of job or work experience in the field is considered an entry-level requirement.

Salary and Job Outlook

Because of the high level of training that urban planners have to have, they are paid quite well for their work. The median annual wage of urban planners was $63,040 in May of 2010. Those who worked for architectural and engineering services earned the highest wage. The lowest 10 percent of wage earners earned less than $40,410, whereas the top 10 percent earned over $96,420, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

$63,040
Master's Degree
None
None
40,300
16%
6,500
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
The Bureau of Labor Statistics also indicates that the job outlook for urban planners from 2010 to 2020 will be good, with a 16 percent growth expected. All occupations as a whole are only expected to increase by 14 percent over the same time period. This makes a career as an urban planner one worth considering.

If you feel that you have what it takes to make a successful career as an urban planner, we are ready to connect you with the educational programs to get you started. Fill in the form below for more information about beginning the process of becoming an urban planner.