Urban and Regional Planners

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities.

Work Environment: Most urban and regional planners work full time during normal business hours, and some may work evenings or weekends to attend meetings with officials, planning commissions, and neighborhood groups.

How to Become One: Urban and regional planners need a master’s degree from an accredited planning program to qualify for most positions.

   Salary: The median annual wage for urban and regional planners is $75,950.

Job Outlook: Employment of urban and regional planners is projected to grow 7 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of urban and regional planners with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as an urban and regional planner with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Urban Planner Jobs

  • Urban Planner - Houseal Lavigne - Los Angeles, CA

    Houseal Lavigne is an urban planning , community development, and geospatial services consulting firm that provides a wide range of planning , design and development related services to both public and ...

  • Customer Success Manager (Urban Planning) - UrbanFootprint - Berkeley, CA

    Our founders, Joe DiStefano and Peter Calthorpe, are urban planning pioneers who have spent decades providing critical urban intelligence to cities and enterprises across the globe. UrbanFootprint ...

  • Urban Designer / Urban Planner with 5-8 years' experience - Studio T-SQ., Inc. - Oakland, CA

    We are not just planners and designers, we are visionaries with innovative spirit who understand ... Large-scale urban infill development * Transit-oriented development * Community and neighborhood ...

See all Urban Planner jobs

Top 3 Regional Planner Jobs

  • Mid to Senior Environmental Planner / Regional Planner - Dudek - Santa Barbara, CA

    About the Job Dudek is seeking an mid to senior level environmental planner or regional planner with 7+ years experience to join our planning and urban design group, which works collaboratively with ...

  • Planner or Senior Technical Planner - Regional Transportation Commission - Reno, NV

    Thursday February 3, 2022 The Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) OF WASHOE COUNTY, NEVADA an integrated transportation agency that serves as the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO ...

  • Environmental Sustainability Program Manager - Tri-County Regional Planning Commission - Lansing, MI

    ... Regional Committee for Stormwater Management (GLRC). View the full position description, including areas of responsibility, principal duties, and education and work experience requirements for this ...

See all Regional Planner jobs

What Urban and Regional Planners Do[About this section] [To Top]

Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.

Duties of Urban and Regional Planners

Urban and regional planners typically do the following:

  • Meet with public officials, developers, and the public regarding development plans and land use
  • Administer government plans or policies affecting land use
  • Gather and analyze data from market research, censuses, and economic and environmental studies
  • Conduct field investigations to analyze factors affecting community development and decline, including land use
  • Review site plans submitted by developers
  • Assess the feasibility of proposals and identify needed changes
  • Recommend whether proposals should be approved or denied
  • Present projects to communities, planning officials, and planning commissions
  • Stay current on zoning and building codes, environmental regulations, and other legal issues

Urban and regional planners identify community needs and develop short- and long-term solutions to improve and revitalize communities and areas. As an area grows or changes, planners help communities manage the related economic, social, and environmental issues, such as planning new parks, sheltering the homeless, and making the region more attractive to businesses.

When beginning a project, planners often work with public officials, community members, and other groups to identify community issues and goals. Through research, data analysis, and collaboration with interest groups, they formulate strategies to address issues and to meet goals. Planners may also help carry out community plans by overseeing projects, enforcing zoning regulations, and organizing the work of the groups involved.

Urban and regional planners use a variety of tools and technology in their work. They commonly use statistical software, data visualization and presentation programs, financial spreadsheets, and other database and software programs. Geographic Information System (GIS) software is used to integrate data, such as for population density, with digital maps.

Urban and regional planners may specialize in areas such as transportation planning, community development, historic preservation, or urban design, among other fields of interest.

Planners often collaborate with public officials, civil engineers, environmental engineers, architects, lawyers, and real estate developers.

Work Environment for Urban and Regional Planners[About this section] [To Top]

Urban and regional planners hold about 39,100 jobs. The largest employers of urban and regional planners are as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 70%
Architectural, engineering, and related services 11%
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 3%
Federal government 2%

Planners work throughout the country, but most work in large metropolitan areas.

Urban and regional planners may travel to inspect proposed changes and their impacts on land conditions, the environment, and land use.

Urban and Regional Planner Work Schedules

Most urban and regional planners work full time during normal business hours, and some may work evenings or weekends to attend meetings with officials, planning commissions, and neighborhood groups. Some planners work more than 40 hours per week.

How to Become an Urban or Regional Planner[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Urban and Regional Planners near you!

Urban and regional planners need a master's degree from an accredited planning program to qualify for most positions.

Education for Urban and Regional Planners

Most urban and regional planners have a master's degree from an accredited urban or regional planning program. There are 71 programs accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) that offered a master's degree in planning.

Master's degree programs accept students with a wide range of undergraduate backgrounds. However, many candidates who enter these programs have a bachelor's degree in economics, geography, political science, or environmental design.

Most master's programs have students spending considerable time in seminars, workshops, and laboratory courses, in which they learn to analyze and solve planning problems. Although most master's programs have a similar core curriculum, there is some variability in the courses they offer and the issues they focus on. For example, programs located in agricultural states may focus on rural planning, and programs located in larger cities may focus on urban revitalization.

Bachelor's degree holders can qualify for a small number of jobs as assistant or junior planners. There are 15 accredited bachelor's degree programs in planning. Candidates with a bachelor's degree typically need work experience in planning, public policy, or a related field.

Other Experience for Urban and Regional Planners

Although not necessary for all positions, some entry-level positions require 1 to 2 years of work experience in a related field, such as architecture, public policy, or economic development. Many students gain experience through real planning projects or part-time internships while enrolled in a master's planning program. Others enroll in full-time internships after completing their degree.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Urban and Regional Planners

New Jersey is the only state that required urban and regional planners to be licensed. More information is available from the regulatory board of New Jersey.

The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) offers the AICP certification for planners. To become certified, candidates must meet certain education and experience requirements and pass an exam.

Important Qualities for Urban and Regional Planners

Analytical skills. Urban and regional planners analyze information and data from a variety of sources, such as market research studies, censuses, and environmental impact studies. They use statistical techniques and technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in their analyses to determine the significance of the data.

Communication skills. Urban and regional planners must be able to communicate clearly and effectively because they interact with colleagues and stakeholders, prepare research reports, give presentations, and meet with a wide variety of audiences, including public officials, interest groups, and community members.

Decisionmaking skills. Urban and regional planners must weigh all possible planning options and combine analysis, creativity, and realism to choose the appropriate action or plan.

Leadership skills. Urban and regional planners must be able to manage projects, which may include overseeing tasks and planning assignments.

Urban and Regional Planner Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for urban and regional planners is $75,950. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $46,830, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $118,280.

The median annual wages for urban and regional planners in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Federal government $102,390
Architectural, engineering, and related services $81,110
Local government, excluding education and hospitals $74,530
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services $69,100

Most urban and regional planners work full time during normal business hours, and some may work evenings or weekends to attend meetings with officials, planning commissions, and neighborhood groups. Some planners work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook for Urban and Regional Planners[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of urban and regional planners is projected to grow 7 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 3,700 openings for urban and regional planners are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of Urban and Regional Planners

Demographic, transportation, and environmental changes will drive employment growth for planners.

Within cities, urban planners will be needed to develop revitalization projects and address issues associated with population growth, environmental degradation, the movement of people and goods, and resource scarcity. Similarly, suburban areas and municipalities will need planners to address the challenges associated with population changes, including housing needs and transportation systems covering larger areas with less population density.

Planners will also be needed as new and existing communities require extensive development and improved infrastructure, including housing, roads, sewer systems, parks, and schools.

However, federal, state, and local government budgets may affect the employment of planners in government, because development projects are contingent on available funds.

Employment projections data for Urban and Regional Planners, 2020-30
Occupational Title Employment, 2020 Projected Employment, 2030 Change, 2020-30
Percent Numeric
Urban and regional planners 39,100 41,800 7 2,700


A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.


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