Becoming an urban planner is a demanding career with plenty of challenges and rewards. While many planners start out as educators, planners also work in planning departments, municipal government, business associations, and the nonprofit sector. Those who are trained for this profession typically have an undergraduate degree in an accredited planning or urban planning program.
Most urban planning programs typically require a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis on the planning component, either at an institution of higher learning or at an accredited university or other post-secondary institution.
Some programs even accept students with a variety of majors including
- Political science
- Environmental design
Most programs focus on four to five different areas. The first area is urban planning and design, which covers
- Land use
- Urban development
Students learn how to design plans for city planning. Students may choose from a variety of courses including
- Urban studies
- City planning
- Land use planning
- Environmental planning
- Building design
They may also elect to specialize in planning through an advanced degree program or on-the-job training. Those who plan and design cities and communities often begin their careers as a city planner or development planner. Some city planners and developers will hold multiple positions.
Others work as planners within a larger development team that manages various aspects of a project. These include
- Project managers
Community planning is another area in which planners specialize
Community planners are responsible for identifying issues and concerns within a community and providing solutions. Community planners may work as
- Write reports
- Serve as community education representatives
Many community planners work for organizations that provide services such as
- Economic development
- Development projects
The final area of the field of urban planning is public works. Urban planners are charged with helping to develop public transportation systems, enhance existing parks and public spaces, and promote healthy and safe environments.
Public works planners may work as advocates for environmental groups and other government agencies. In order to become a successful public works planner, many public works positions require prior to any formal planning or design experience.
Because the demand for these positions are so high, there are many public works positions available. An example of a public works position that can be acquired includes parks and recreation manager. This position generally involves planning and implementing an organization’s entire park maintenance program.
The final area of expertise in the field of urban planning is
- Planning for emergency situations
- Planning for disasters
- Planning for natural calamities
- Planning for crises
Disaster management requires the ability to identify, evaluate, and solve problems that may occur. Disaster management positions are important to a city planning agency. There are many organizations that provide services that specialize in disaster management. These include emergency services that provide disaster recovery and emergency disaster insurance.
In order to qualify for a job in disaster management, it is necessary to possess advanced degrees in science, mathematics, engineering, or computer science. In addition, students must pass an exam that measures a student’s ability to
- Make judgments
- Make decisions under time constraints
A job in disaster management can take many forms. For example, a city planner can work as a senior manager of a large department store or department. They could also work as a regional manager for a major chain store or development firm.
As mentioned previously, many planners also work as consultants for large organizations that offer services such as disaster management. They also may work as advocates for environmental groups that are concerned with the preservation of natural resources.
Those interested in becoming an urban planner may choose to complete post-graduate studies at colleges that specialize in planning and design. These programs will prepare them to work in the field of planning and design.