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city planner

City planners work with a variety of people, including government officials, developers and community members, to ensure that the growth and development of a city or town is both environmentally sustainable and economically viable. They use their knowledge of land use, zoning laws, transportation systems and other urban infrastructure to plan for the future.

Cities Are Changing

Many urban areas are losing population as people move out of cities. As a result, the need for urban planners has increased.

As a city planner, you might work to develop plans that will preserve the historic architecture of a city or revitalize it by building modern infrastructures. You might also assist in implementing green initiatives to help make the area more sustainable.

You might use computer software to map out different locations and estimate costs of a project before it is built. You might also hold public meetings to discuss plans and upcoming projects with a wide range of stakeholders.

The Key Requirements to Become a City Planner

A degree in urban planning is often necessary for a career as a city planner. This degree is typically a master’s degree from an accredited program in urban or regional planning.

An undergraduate major in geography or environmental studies is helpful if you want to become a city planner, as these fields will prepare you for your graduate courses in urban and regional planning. You may also need to take coursework in geographic information system (GIS) applications and issues related to the environment.

Your responsibilities as a city planner will vary depending on your position and jurisdiction. For example, you might need to prepare a strategic planning document for your municipality that outlines high-level goals and objectives and sets the framework for implementing legal planning instruments.

You might also work to design new areas within the city to increase population and create new jobs. This includes adjusting zoning to allow higher density or mixed-use communities that incorporate residential, commercial and light industry into the same area.

For example, you might plan neighborhoods in which residents live, shop and use public transportation at the same time. This type of urban development reduces traffic and the need for driving, which is good for the environment as well as for your own pocketbook.

The Pay of an Urban Planner

You can expect to earn a salary based on your education and experience level. A junior urban planner with a bachelor’s degree can expect to earn an average of $44,241, while senior urban planners will have a higher salary if they have a master’s degree and a few years of work experience under their belt.

Some city planners may be required to complete an additional certification. This is typically administered by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), and consists of education and experience requirements and passing an exam. The credential must be maintained every two years and requires an application fee.

In addition to your education and experience, you should be a self-starter with strong communication skills and a keen interest in the environmental problems facing your community. You should also be willing to learn about the details of your job duties and the laws that govern your field. You should also be able to collaborate with other professionals and keep your ideas fresh in order to stay on top of current trends.