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Career profile Urban Planner

Also known as City Planner, Community Development Planner, Community Planner, Development Technician, Housing Development Specialist, Neighborhood Planner, Planning Technician, Regional Planner, Urban Design Consultant, Zoning Technician

Urban Planner

Also known as City Planner, Community Development Planner, Community Planner

Interests Profile
  • Investigative
  • Enterprising
  • Artistic
Pay Range
$46,830 - $118,280 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Speaking
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Active Listening
Knowledge Areas
  • Law and Government
  • Geography
  • Transportation
Core tasks
  • Respond to public inquiries and complaints.
  • Research, compile, analyze and organize information from maps, reports, investigations, and books for use in reports and special projects.
  • Prepare, maintain and update files and records, including land use data and statistics.
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What does an Urban Planner do?

Urban Planners develop comprehensive plans and programs for use of land and physical facilities of jurisdictions, such as towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.

What kind of tasks does an Urban Planner perform regularly?

Urban Planners are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Design, promote, or administer government plans or policies affecting land use, zoning, public utilities, community facilities, housing, or transportation.
  • Advise planning officials on project feasibility, cost-effectiveness, regulatory conformance, or possible alternatives.
  • Create, prepare, or requisition graphic or narrative reports on land use data, including land area maps overlaid with geographic variables, such as population density.
  • Hold public meetings with government officials, social scientists, lawyers, developers, the public, or special interest groups to formulate, develop, or address issues regarding land use or community plans.
  • Mediate community disputes or assist in developing alternative plans or recommendations for programs or projects.
  • Recommend approval, denial, or conditional approval of proposals.
  • Conduct field investigations, surveys, impact studies, or other research to compile and analyze data on economic, social, regulatory, or physical factors affecting land use.
  • Evaluate proposals for infrastructure projects or other development for environmental impact or sustainability.
  • Discuss with planning officials the purpose of land use projects, such as transportation, conservation, residential, commercial, industrial, or community use.
  • Keep informed about economic or legal issues involved in zoning codes, building codes, or environmental regulations.
  • Assess the feasibility of land use proposals and identify necessary changes.
  • Determine the effects of regulatory limitations on land use projects.
  • Review and evaluate environmental impact reports pertaining to private or public planning projects or programs.
  • Develop plans for public or alternative transportation systems for urban or regional locations to reduce carbon output associated with transportation.
  • Supervise or coordinate the work of urban planning technicians or technologists.
  • Identify opportunities or develop plans for sustainability projects or programs to improve energy efficiency, minimize pollution or waste, or restore natural systems.
  • Coordinate work with economic consultants or architects during the formulation of plans or the design of large pieces of infrastructure.
  • Advocate sustainability to community groups, government agencies, the general public, or special interest groups.
  • Investigate property availability for purposes of development.

The above responsibilities are specific to Urban Planners. More generally, Urban Planners are involved in several broader types of activities:

Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Communicating with People Outside the Organization
Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
Developing Objectives and Strategies
Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

What is an Urban Planner salary?

The median salary for an Urban Planner is $75,950, and the average salary is $79,410. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Urban Planner salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Urban Planners earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Urban Planners earn less than $46,830 per year, 25% earn less than $59,130, 75% earn less than $96,380, and 90% earn less than $118,280.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Urban Planners is expected to change by 6.9%, and there should be roughly 3,700 open positions for Urban Planners every year.

Median annual salary
$75,950
Typical salary range
$46,830 - $118,280
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
6.9%

What personality traits are common among Urban Planners?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as an Urban Planner are usually higher in their Investigative, Enterprising, and Artistic interests.

Urban Planners typically have very strong Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Also, Urban Planners typically have moderate Enterprising interests. Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Lastly, Urban Planners typically have moderate Artistic interests. Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as an Urban Planner tend to value Relationships, Working Conditions, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Urban Planners strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Urban Planners strongly value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Urban Planners strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Urban Planners must consistently demonstrate qualities such as integrity, cooperation, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Urban Planners, ranked by importance:

Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Cooperation
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

What education and training do Urban Planners need?

Many Urban Planners have earned a graduate degree. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D..

Urban Planners may need some on-the-job training, but most candidates will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.

Educational degrees among Urban Planners

  • 43.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 52.7% earned a Master's degree
  • 4.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Urban Planners

Urban Planners may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as law and government, geography, or transportation knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Urban Planners might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
Geography
Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
Transportation
Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Communications and Media
Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

Important Abilities needed by Urban Planners

Urban Planners must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Urban Planners need abilities such as oral comprehension, oral expression, and speech clarity in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Urban Planners, ranked by their relative importance.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Speech Clarity
The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Written Comprehension
The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Written Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Urban Planners

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Urban Planners frequently use skills like speaking, judgment and decision making, and active listening to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Urban Planners, ranked by their relative importance.

Speaking
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Judgment and Decision Making
Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Systems Analysis
Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.