Urban planning is a vital component of creating livable and economically viable neighborhoods and towns. As a part of this, when considering their future career options many students ask: “How do I become a urban planner?” Fortunately, there are a number of methods available to enter a career in urban planning.
Urban planners develop and implement effective plans for communities ranging from large cities to small rural neighborhoods. These urban plans not only incorporate the current situation but work to forecast likely economic, social and environmental trends in the area. In the modern city, urban planners must also consider such factors as crime, pollution, traffic patterns, and population growth when preparing long-term urban plans to offer to their supervisors.
In addition, urban planners are often hired to help implement mass transit and waste disposal projects. In this case, the planner will focus on how best to integrate them with already existing infrastructure.
To become a urban planner requires that the student have a firm educational grounding. While some universities offer a bachelor’s degree in urban planning, most schools only offer a master’s degree in urban planning, requiring at least two years of study. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) considers a master’s degree the entry-level education required to become a professional urban planner, and many organizations will only hire individuals who have a master’s degree. Finally, most potential employers will only consider degrees that have been conferred by schools that are accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board, which sets professional and educational standards for urban planning courses.
Additionally, many urban planners choose to become certified with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), which is a part of the American Planning Association (APA). In order to become a urban planner that is certified with the APA, the candidate must pass a very demanding professional exam, as well as having a certain amount of professional experience in the field of urban planning. The amount of time the candidate must have worked as an urban planner varies depending on his or her educational level at the time of application.
Employment opportunities for urban planners are spread across the United States, allowing those who wish to become a urban planner to work in any part of America. The median salary for urban planners, according to the BLS is approximately $63,000. The current rate of job growth for urban planning remains stable and is roughly equal to other professional careers.
In most cases, becoming an urban planner will require work experience in a related field, such as architecture. Paid and unpaid urban planning internships are also available to those who wish to become a urban planner.
Modern urban planning professionals have a wide variety of job opportunities. Especially with the growth of America’s urban population, effective urban planning is becoming a vital part of city construction and revitalization projects. Private developers also make use of urban planners to create attractive and flexible housing developments.
Urban planners will continue to play a vital role in urban and rural development. As such, this profession has a very bright future.