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What does an urban planner do?

City planners figure out the best way to use the land in cities and neighborhoods. They report on the best location for houses, stores, and parks. They try to solve a lot of problems. These include things such as too much traffic and increases in air pollution. Planners want to make sure that people can get to a bus or subway. They need to plan where people should drive their cars and where they can park.

Planners make new plans when more people move into a community. They might tell community leaders that they need new schools or roads.

Planners also are concerned about saving the wetlands, and trees. They try to find safe places for getting rid of trash.

Before making plans for a community, planners need to know where everything is. They find out how many people use the streets, highways, water, sewers, schools, libraries, museums, and parks. Planners listen to the advice of people who live in the communities. With these and many other facts, they explain their new plans. They tell how much the changes will cost.

Planners use computers all the time. They make reports. They draw new maps showing changes for the future.

City planners spend much of their time in offices. They spend time outside to learn more about the areas that are changing.

Most planners work 40 hours per week. Sometimes they go to meetings in the evening or on weekends. Sometimes they have meetings with the people whose neighborhoods will be changed.

Planners have to work quickly to get their work finished because they have many other plans to make. Sometimes different groups do not agree with the plans for their community.

How do you get ready to become an urban planner?

Employers want workers who have advanced training. Most employers seek persons who have a master's degree in city planning or urban design. Sometimes employers will hire persons who have worked as a planner for a long time, but do not have a master's degree. A bachelor's degree in planning and a master's degree in a related field are good to have when persons look for their first job. Persons who are interested in becoming a city planner should take courses in computer science and statistics.

Persons who are interested in becoming a city planner also should learn how to use a computer.

Local government planning offices often hire college students to work during the summer. Students can learn a lot before they get their first job after they graduate.

To become a certified planner, persons must take the right amount of classes. They must work in a planning office and pass a test. Planners must be able to speak and write well. They must be good at making things fit in place so that everyone can shop, work, and go to school.

How much do urban planners make?

The middle half of all urban and regional planners earned between $39,210 and $62,710 a year in 2002. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $31,830. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $76,700 a year.

How many jobs are there?

Urban and regional planners held about 32,000 jobs in 2002. Most of them worked for local governments. Some planners work in private companies. Others work for State agencies. A small number of planners work for the Federal Government.

What about the future?

The number of jobs for planners is expected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations through 2012. Most of their work will result from population growth. Most new jobs will be in rapidly expanding communities.

Are there other jobs like this?

  • Architects
  • City managers
  • Civil engineers
  • Community development directors
  • Environmental engineers
  • Landscape architects
  • Social scientists (geographers)
Where can you find more information?

More information about urban and regional planners can be found in the Careers Database .

Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook -- U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics

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