Urban and Regional Planners

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Also known as: City Planner, Community Development Planner, Regional Planner, Urban Planner


Career Video transcript
What will the cities of the future look like? And how must today's cities transform themselves to meet the future's demands? Answering those questions is the fascinating work of urban and regional planners. They promote the best use of a community's land and resources for residential, commercial, institutional, and recreational purposes. They develop short-term and long-term plans to provide for the growth and renewal of all kinds of areas, from rural to urban.

Their expertise is used by government officials and citizens to make decisions about social, economic, and environmental issues. This is a field that requires preparation with college studies, often a graduate degree, and a knowledge base in a particular aspect of planning, such as architecture or agriculture.

Planners need to keep abreast of economic and legal issues involved in zoning codes and environmental regulations. They frequently attend evening and weekend meetings or public hearings with citizens' groups. They use computers to record and analyze information and to prepare reports.

Good oral and written communication skills are essential. It helps to be a good negotiator too, because one thing that's certain about the future is that people won't agree about what it should look like.
What they do
Develop comprehensive plans and programs for use of land and physical facilities of jurisdictions, such as towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.


Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict

Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Mediate community disputes or assist in developing alternative plans or recommendations for programs or projects.

Coordinate work with economic consultants or architects during the formulation of plans or the design of large pieces of infrastructure.

Determine the effects of regulatory limitations on projects.

Conduct field investigations, surveys, impact studies, or other research to compile and analyze data on economic, social, regulatory, or physical factors affecting land use.

Keep informed about economic or legal issues involved in zoning codes, building codes, or environmental regulations.

Discuss with planning officials the purpose of land use projects, such as transportation, conservation, residential, commercial, industrial, or community use.

Recommend approval, denial, or conditional approval of proposals.

Advise planning officials on project feasibility, cost-effectiveness, regulatory conformance, or possible alternatives.

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.

Review and evaluate environmental impact reports pertaining to private or public planning projects or programs.

Design, promote, or administer government plans or policies affecting land use, zoning, public utilities, community facilities, housing, or transportation.

Daily Tasks
Main Activities
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

Interacting With Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.

Communicating with Persons Outside 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.

Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

Developing Objectives and Strategies
Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.

Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

Making Decisions and Solving Problems
Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

English Language
Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Law and Government
Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

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.

Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

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.

Computers and Electronics
Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Knowledge Areas
Main Activities
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

Deductive Reasoning
The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

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.

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.

Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Judgment and Decision Making
Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Systems Analysis
Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.

Knowledge Areas
Average Salary
$73,110 per year
Extensive   [more info]
Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.

Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).

Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
This job is going green!
The green economy is changing the work and skills needed by Urban and Regional Planners
[more info]
Green Economy
The green economy is an economic activity that is focused on the development and adoption of renewable sources of energy. It seeks to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, and as a result, decreases pollution and the emission of greenhouse gases. Green jobs promote the use of recycling materials, and pay close attention to the efficiency of energy use.

Increasing the Demand
The impact of green economy activities and technologies is an increase in the employment demand for an existing occupation.

Change of Work and Skills
The impact of green economy activities and technologies results in a significant change to the work and worker requirements of an existing occupation. The essential purposes of the occupation remain the same, but tasks, skills, knowledge, etc. are likely to evolve.

New and Emerging Occupations
The impact of green economy activities and technologies is sufficient to create the need for a new generation of occupations. This new occupation could be entirely novel or evolve from an existing one.
Career Traits
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.

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.

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.


Work Experience

Expected On the Job Training