How to Become an Urban Planner in 2023

Brandi Glass
5 min read
Thoughtful guy writing in notebook leaning on fence against bridge

Urban planners play a crucial role in preserving the safety and livability of cities and communities. They are responsible for creating designs for public facilities like parks and schools. Urban planners specialize in efficient land use but need specific education to break into the industry.

If you’re interested in this career and want to know how to become an urban planner, read on. We’ll go through the fundamentals of the job, average compensation ranges, and job specifics, covering the steps needed to launch a successful career in urban planning.

What Is Urban Planning?

Urban planners are experts who identify community needs and provide solutions to help them thrive, expand, and manage themselves. Urban planners oversee a project’s economic, social, and environmental effects on communities and pinpoint problems with constantly shifting population patterns. Urban planners, for instance, examine feasibility when officials wish to add a new structure to a neighborhood.

Some of the basics of this position include:

  • Planning expansion accommodations and gauging their feasibility
  • Protecting and conserving heritage sites and cultural landmarks
  • Planning long and short-term goals for singular projects or community development goals
  • Revitalizing old structures and maintaining them
  • Addressing community needs
  • Using statistical software to create efficient area plans

Urban planners meet with political stakeholders, members of the public, and developers to coordinate appropriate land use. They analyze environmental and economic reports to determine population impact and conduct research and feasibility studies on proposed development plans. Finally, urban planners reject or approve proposals and keep up with construction codes, restrictions, and environmental regulations.

Before starting a project, planners identify any community concerns or objectives. They develop plans to address problems or achieve desired goals using research, data analysis, and cooperation with interest groups. They might also monitor initiatives, carry out community planning, and delegate work to various groups involved. Projects might be anything from a long-term, all-encompassing region plan to a policy recommendation for a particular project.

Is Urban Planning Difficult?

Urban planning is demanding, requiring much precision and study to become proficient. It’s not a career that one stumbles upon; it takes years of hard work and research to start. In some cases, you can experience stagnation and not have many projects to manage. However, the position also comes with times when you’ll take part in communication, research, and analysis daily. If you want to learn more about the job, speak to someone in the industry who can give you honest feedback about their role.

Read up on the opportunities urban planning can open for your career and whether you plan to progress to more senior positions as you continue your career path. You can also research online job boards to determine whether urban planning is in high demand in your state. If the position interests you and you see yourself being an urban planner, this career may open many growth opportunities. However, suppose you find the work to be tedious and unappealing. In that case, we recommend seeking a different field you are more passionate about and can perform well within.

How To Become An Urban Planner

Planning your steps and becoming a successful candidate for an urban planning job takes a few years. The sooner you start, the likelier you will find a job without waiting too long.

You Need a Suitable Degree

Start with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year program. Although some may recommend starting with an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s holds more weight and gives you a better chance to progress to a graduate degree.

You will most likely need to major in urban planning and geography with a minor in political science, economics, architecture, or sociology. After graduating, getting a master’s degree in urban planning is the next step. Although a master’s degree is not mandatory, it helps boost your experience and makes your resume more appealing to hiring managers.

Gain Hands-On Experience

After completing a master’s degree, you may have opportunities to partake in internships. Internships allow you to gain hands-on experience in a supervised environment. Some of them will enable you to continue working full-time after completing the program, but each varies.

Regardless of future employment at the program, you still benefit from applying what you learned in your field. The experience helps you grasp what you need and hone your skills to become a thriving urban planner. Moreover, if you have no experience after graduating and want to apply to jobs, having an internship on your resume boosts your chances of finding a job.

Seek Certifications

Besides a college degree, you also have a wealth of certification options that help you get a foot in the door and start working as an urban planner. Certifications allow you to seek better job opportunities once you are ready to join the workforce. Although they do not take the place of a degree, they are an additional fortification for your resume.

Some examples of these certifications include:

  • Certified Urban Designer (CUD)
  • Certified Planner (AICP)
  • Certified Real Estate Inspector (CRI)

Start Applying For Full-Time Positions

With a college degree and certifications, you have enough qualifications to start looking for a job as an urban planner. You have many industries to choose from, like transport, economic development, urban regeneration, and housing. You have multiple opportunities to start depending on your degree, certification, and interests.

One of the best ways to seek an urban planning job is to use search engines and job sites. Additionally, do not underestimate the value of networking with people on social media and in your field. They may know of opportunities that companies have yet to list online. This strategy gives you an advantage and may lead to a job that other candidates do not know exists.

How Much Can Urban Planners Earn?

Your earning potential as an urban planner depends on multiple factors, such as your level of education and your state of residence. However, urban planning has options for growth and spreading out into different industries once you gain experience.

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for an Urban Planner in the United States is $78,500
  • estimates that urban planners make $66,984 a year
  • places the annual national average for urban planning at $51,058, with the highest earners making $64,709

Finding a Job As An Urban Planner

With the information you need to make a solid career move for your future clear, it’s time to update your resume and format it correctly before applying.

One of the main reasons resumes don’t reach the right hands is technical issues such as not passing through the Applicant Tracking System. To avoid this issue, you can build a customized Urban Planner resume with Rocket Resume.

Rocket Resume CVs are easy to format, and you can choose the template that suits your position. You can start with your resume by filling out the information and signing up. In minutes, you have a ready resume that you can upload to any software without issues or hassle.

Now that you know how to become an urban planner, it’s time to start on your resume and find the job you always wanted.

Start now with Rocket Resume and get a discount when you sign up.