HOW TO BECOME AN URBAN PLANNER: Career Practices (Steps & Requirements)

Image Source: Becomeopedia

Urban and regional planning are both technical and political, and the best approach varies by context. As a result, unlike engineering, the planning profession has no licensing requirements. However, to work as an urban planner, you must have a bachelor’s degree or postgraduate qualification in urban or environmental planning. This allows you to work with government agencies, developers, and the community as a whole. The salary of an urban planner can vary greatly depending on many factors, including their level of education, their level of experience, where they work, their employer’s current planning needs, and many others.

What Is an Urban Planner?

An urban planner plans and designs neighborhoods, communities, and other areas of cities or towns. They are experts at developing such spaces while making the most efficient use of available land. They take into account community amenities like transportation, libraries, and recreational areas. When making plans, they also think ahead to factors like population growth and aging infrastructure.

Urban planners also help to rebuild neighborhoods that need it. Frequently, they conduct surveys and interviews with locals to find out what kinds of changes would make life better for them and the people who already live there.

Is Urban Planning a Good Career?

The BLS anticipates a 7% rise in urban and regional planner jobs from 2020 to 2030, matching the average predicted increase for all occupations. Urban and regional planning positions are predicted to grow by 3700 each year to 39,100 by 2030.

What is the Job Description of Urban Planners?

An urban planner’s primary responsibility is to develop plans for the best use of the land that their project intends to develop. Other responsibilities include:

  • Data collection and analysis for economic and environmental studies, censuses, and market research.
  • Investigating and evaluating the land to determine its dimensions and potential functionality.
  • Conducting field studies to investigate factors influencing land use
  • Creating usable areas to meet their vision or the vision of the organization for which they work.
  • Examining developer-submitted site plans
  • collaborating with others to plan and construct infrastructure for new developments or for natural areas to be preserved (like a state park).
  • Project presentation to planning officials and planning commissions
  • Discussions of land use and development plans involve government representatives, private builders, and the general public.
  • Respect all applicable regulations at the regional, state, and federal levels.

How to Become an Urban Planner

To become an urban planner, you’ll need to follow the steps below.

#1 Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree.

There is no required bachelor’s degree for anyone who wants to become a city planner, but there are many areas of study that are related to the field and can help students get into master’s degree programs. Individuals planning to apply to master’s degree programs in urban and regional planning may find bachelor’s degree programs in fields such as environmental design, economics, political science, architecture, or geography useful. Bachelor’s degrees in urban and regional planning may be available to students, but such programs may be scarce.

Furthermore, you can develop your competence through relevant real-world experience. Students with a bachelor’s degree may be able to participate in projects or internships that demonstrate proficiency in urban and regional planning skills. A project like this could be part of the requirements for admission to a master’s degree program.

# 2:Obtain a Master’s Degree

Coursework in metropolitan planning, GIS technology, urban planning laws, spatial analysis, and negotiation may be included in master’s degree programs in urban and regional planning. Additionally, students have the opportunity to participate in the studio, workshops, and internship opportunities. At the master’s degree level, concentration options are common, and students can choose to specialize in an area of urban planning such as land use, community development, or transportation.

However, you can take advantage of any available work experience. Internships at the master’s degree level can help students gain the work experience that is typically required by employers in a shorter amount of time. Because not all master’s degree programs require an internship, students may have to work hard to obtain one. 

Furthermore, you can choose a concentration in your preferred field of study. As a result of the breadth and depth of the urban planning field, graduate students often have the opportunity to specialize in a subset of the discipline during their master’s degree studies. Competence in a specific area of specialization, such as economic or environmental development, may assist aspiring planners in developing a set of skills desired by some employers.

#3. Acquire Real-World Experience

It is possible to gain some work experience while pursuing a master’s degree in city planning; however, most employers require candidates to have at least one to two years of professional experience before hiring them. Professionals who want to learn the ins and outs of their field might benefit from having worked in a variety of fields, such as architecture or public policy.  However, top-level positions typically call for a decade or more of work experience in urban planning.

#4. Attain Certification.

Certification is optional for urban planners, but it can help these professionals demonstrate their commitment to the field and showcase their professional abilities. In addition to being an APA member, you’ll need to meet specific experience and education requirements to earn this certification. Anyone who has earned the certification must take continuing education courses regularly in order to keep it. 

Is Urban Planning a Stressful Job?

Not only is the job difficult, but being an urban planner may be stressful since you are constantly concerned with politics.

How Long Does It Take To Become an Urban Planner?

To become a junior or assistant planner, you need at least four years of college and a bachelor’s degree. Most urban planners attend school for seven years, beginning with a bachelor’s degree and continuing to a three-year master’s program. Some entry-level jobs require 1 to 2 years of experience in areas such as public policy or economics, depending on the position.

Some students choose to do part-time internships while working on their master’s. Others choose to finish their degrees first and then apply for full-time internships. Since there isn’t a bachelor’s degree in urban planning, these professionals come from many different educational backgrounds. The majority of urban planners have a bachelor’s degree in economics, geography, environmental studies, or political science.

After completing a bachelor’s degree program, students interested in a career as an urban planner enroll in a postgraduate program to earn a master’s degree in urban planning. Workshops, seminars, and lab courses are all a part of the curriculum to help students develop analytical skills through the practice of solving difficult planning problems.

Where Does an Urban Planner Work?

Most urban and regional planners are employed by local, regional, or national government organizations. Urban and regional planning is critical to a community’s quality of life and economic health, which is part of what makes it a rewarding career. However, because of its importance, it is on the radar of political and economic interests, and dealing with competing needs can be stressful for some. Planners must also work under time constraints.

Urban and regional planners need to conduct site visits in the field to assess existing land uses and infrastructure. Most employees work standard business hours, though occasional after-hours and weekend meetings with key players may be necessary.

Urban Planner Salary

An urban planner or city planner’s annual salary in the United States is $66,995. This will depend on where the planner lives, the agency they work for, and their level of experience. However, an urban planner with more experience can advance to higher-level positions and earn $85,903 per year. Other careers in the field of city planning can vary. Those who specialize, such as environmental planners or transportation planners, can earn more money. Environmental planners, for example, earn a national average of $74,006 per year. The annual salary is determined by a variety of factors, including job location, experience, and level of education.

Salary of a Junior Urban Planner (With a Bachelor’s Degree)

A typical city planner’s career path begins at the junior level. Urban planner assistants have a bachelor’s degree at the very least. Junior planners typically earn at the lower end of the pay scale. The salary of an urban planner rises with the candidate’s level of education and experience. Junior-level workers just starting can expect to earn around $44,241.

Salary of a Senior Urban Planner (With a Master’s Degree)

A senior-level planner’s salary is significantly higher than that of a junior-level worker. Senior urban planners typically hold a master’s degree as well as several years of work experience. An average salary for a senior planner is around $98,342, but this can vary widely by sector and location. Approximate values depend on the highest and lowest earning segments.

What Is the Highest Salary of an Urban Planner?

The annual salary of an urban planner in India ranges from 2.5 Lakhs to 10.9 Lakhs, with an average of 6.0 Lakhs.


City leaders can use urban planning to achieve sustainable development. Planning helps municipal budgets by informing infrastructure and service investments and balancing growth with environmental protection. Becoming an urban planner can be challenging because sometimes major projects in urban planning can take decades to unfold, which makes it hard to get mayors interested in pursuing them.

How To Become An Urban Planner FAQs

What major is best for urban planning?

Urban planners usually need a graduate degree, and also some entry-level positions. Other popular undergraduate majors among aspiring urban planners are:

  • Architecture,
  • Economics
  • environmental planning
  • geography.
  • public administration.
  • political science.

Does urban planning require math?

Math is an integral part of urban design, which involves planning the layout, aesthetics, and functionality of urban areas, with a focus on the creation and utilization of secure public spaces. In addition, urban planners employ mathematical models to foresee a community’s long-term requirements.

What is the difference between urban planning and urban design?

Urban design focuses more on the shape and form of spaces, as well as how people experience a place. Urban planning deals with how these spaces can be used to improve people’s lives.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like