What kind of job would I get?

Urban planners do many types of jobs and are involved in almost any kind of government or private activity which seeks to affect the future or accommodate community change. The majority of planners work in government, and within that category, local government. Planners may also be employed at the state and federal levels. International organizations such a the United Nations and the World Bank also hire planners. Planners may also work with non-profit agencies or in the private sector. Private sector jobs include working for utility companies, law firms, real estate developers, and planning consulting firms.

Most planners work in traditional planning areas such as land use, environmental protection, economic development, transportation, community design, housing, and social planning. Individual planners may still have a wide variety of responsibilities within these specialities. Other planners work in less traditional areas, often with people from other disciplines, such as healthy communities, energy development, or school planning. Some planners become generalists, developing a level of expertise in several substantive areas. Others become specialists and define themselves as transportation planners or environmental planners, for example.

Whether specialists or generalists, most planners share a common set of skills:

  • involve all affected parties in important planning decisions;
  • help communities to develop their own vision of the future, preparing plans responsive to shared community objectives;
  • analyze qualitative and quantitative information to suggest possible solutions to complex problems;
  • evaluate the cost-effectiveness of proposed projects and plans; and
  • present recommendations to public officials and citizen groups in a comprehensive and understandable way.

Examples of Careers in Planning

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