Career Detail

Community & Urban Planners
“Planning Cities for Our Future”
Develop long- and short-term plans for the use of land and the growth and development of urban, suburban, and rural communities and the region in which they are located.
The Job
Before preparing plans for community development, planners study and report on the current use of land for residential, business, and community purposes. They also provide data on the types of industries in the community, the characteristics of the population, and employment and economic trends. Using this information, along with input from citizens, planners try to optimize land use for buildings and other public facilities. Planners prepare reports showing how their programs can be carried out and what they will cost. Urban and regional planners often confer with land developers, civic leaders, and public officials and may function as mediators in community disputes, presenting alternatives that are acceptable to opposing parties. Planners may prepare material for community relations programs, speak at civic meetings, and appear before legislative committees and elected officials to explain and defend their proposals. Most urban and regional planners focus on one or more areas of specialization. Among the most common are community development and redevelopment, land-use or code enforcement, transportation planning, environmental and natural resources planning, urban design, and economic planning and development.
Work Environment
Although most planners have a scheduled 40-hour workweek, they frequently attend evening or weekend meetings or public hearings with citizens' groups.
College Majors
economics, geography, political science, or environmental design
Minimum Qualifications
A master's degree from an accredited planning program provides the best training for a wide range of planning positions. Most entry-level jobs in Federal, State, and local governments require a master's degree from an accredited program in urban or regional planning or a related field.
Personality traits helpful for this career
Should be flexible and be able to reconcile different viewpoints and the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing.
Quick Facts
  • Local governments employ about 68 percent of urban and regional planners.
  • Job prospects will be best for those with a master's degree and strong computer skills; bachelor's degree holders may find positions, but advancement opportunities are limited.
  • More Info: American Planning Association, Internet:
Compensation and Outlook
Median annual wages of urban and regional planners were $59,810 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $47,050 and $75,630. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,960, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $91,520.
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