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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdrsY1vz1SU.
Quick Facts: Urban and Regional Planners
2023 Median Pay $81,800 per year
$39.33 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Master's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2022 44,700
Job Outlook, 2022-32 4% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 1,700

What Urban and Regional Planners Do

Urban and regional planners develop comprehensive plans and programs for use of land and physical facilities in cities, counties, metropolitan areas, and other jurisdictions.

Work Environment

Urban and regional planners usually work in an office setting and may travel to visit proposed sites. Most work full time, and some work evenings or weekends to attend meetings.

How to Become an Urban or Regional Planner

Urban and regional planners typically need a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited planning program to enter the occupation. Employers may prefer or require planners to be certified.

Pay

The median annual wage for urban and regional planners was $81,800 in May 2023.

Job Outlook

Employment of urban and regional planners is projected to grow 4 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 3,700 openings for urban and regional planners are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for urban and regional planners.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of urban and regional planners with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about urban and regional planners by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Urban and Regional Planners Do About this section

Urban and regional planners
Urban and regional planners review site plans submitted by developers.

Urban and regional planners develop comprehensive plans and programs for use of land and physical facilities in cities, counties, metropolitan areas, and other jurisdictions.

Duties

Urban and regional planners typically do the following:

  • Meet with stakeholders such as government officials, developers, and the public regarding development plans and land use
  • Gather and analyze data from field investigations and sources such as market research, censuses, and environmental studies
  • Assess the feasibility of site plans submitted by developers and identify needed changes
  • Recommend whether site plans should be approved or denied
  • Stay current on government policies such as zoning laws, building codes, and environmental regulations

Urban and regional planners identify community needs and develop short- and long-term projects for certain areas. They help communities manage economic, social, environmental, and other issues. Examples include creating access to parks and sidewalks, expanding affordable housing, and making the region more attractive to businesses.

When working on a project, planners often collaborate with public officials, community members, and other groups to identify community issues and goals. They also analyze research and data to address issues and to meet goals. After they present a final project proposal to clients, planners may help to oversee its implementation.

Urban and regional planners use a variety of technology, such as statistical, data visualization, and financial management software. In addition, planners often use Geographic Information System (GIS) software to integrate data, such as for population density, with digital maps.

Urban and regional planners may specialize in transportation planning, community development, historic preservation, or other areas of focus.

Work Environment About this section

Urban and regional planners
Urban and regional planners may travel to development sites.

Urban and regional planners held about 44,700 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of urban and regional planners were as follows:

Local government, excluding education and hospitals 65%
State government, excluding education and hospitals 10
Architectural, engineering, and related services 8
Self-employed workers 8
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 3

Urban and regional planners may need to travel to inspect potential sites and proposed changes to existing sites.

Work Schedules

Most urban and regional planners work full time. Some work evenings or weekends to attend meetings with officials, planning commissions, and neighborhood groups.

How to Become an Urban or Regional Planner About this section

Urban and regional planners
Urban and regional planners must be effective communicators when they meet with public officials, developers, and the public regarding development plans and land use.

Urban and regional planners typically need a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited planning program to enter the occupation. Employers may prefer or require planners to be certified.

Education

Urban and regional planners typically need a master's degree in urban and regional planning or a related field. Admission to master's degree programs typically requires a bachelor’s degree. Programs usually do not specify a particular undergraduate degree for admission, but students may benefit from having a background in architecture, social science, business, or a related field.

Accredited programs typically include coursework in subjects such as planning theory, land use law, and GIS for planning. Programs often have seminars and workshops, in which students learn to analyze and solve planning problems, and may offer concentrations in rural planning, urban revitalization, or other disciplines.

Other Experience

Some entry-level positions require work experience in a related field, such as architecture, public policy, or economic development. Students may gain relevant experience through internships while enrolled in, or after completing, their degree program.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states do not require urban and regional planners to be licensed. New Jersey is an exception; information about its licensing requirements is available from the regulatory board of New Jersey.

Employers may prefer or require urban and regional planners to be certified. For example, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) offers the AICP certification for planners who meet certain requirements and pass an exam.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Urban and regional planners evaluate information from a variety of sources, such as market research studies, censuses, and environmental impact studies.

Communication skills. Urban and regional planners prepare research reports and presentations. They must be able to effectively convey project details to a variety of stakeholders, such as public officials, interest groups, and community members.

Decision-making skills. Urban and regional planners must consider a range of options when determining whether site plans should be approved or denied.

Interpersonal skills. Urban and regional planners must be able to establish and maintain relationships with stakeholders.

Leadership skills. Urban and regional planners must be able to manage projects, which may include delegating tasks and planning assignments.

Pay About this section

Urban and Regional Planners

Median annual wages, May 2023

Social scientists and related workers

$89,440

Urban and regional planners

$81,800

Total, all occupations

$48,060

 

The median annual wage for urban and regional planners was $81,800 in May 2023. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $51,470, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $126,120.

In May 2023, the median annual wages for urban and regional planners in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Management, scientific, and technical consulting services $86,980
Architectural, engineering, and related services 85,900
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 80,690
State government, excluding education and hospitals 80,160

Most urban and regional planners work full time. Some work evenings or weekends to attend meetings with officials, planning commissions, and neighborhood groups.

Job Outlook About this section

Urban and Regional Planners

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Social scientists and related workers

5%

Urban and regional planners

4%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Employment of urban and regional planners is projected to grow 4 percent from 2022 to 2032, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 3,700 openings for urban and regional planners are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Demographic, transportation, and environmental changes will drive employment growth for planners.

Within cities, urban planners will be needed to develop revitalization projects and address issues associated with population growth, environmental degradation, the movement of people and goods, and resource scarcity. Similarly, suburban areas and municipalities will need planners to address the challenges associated with population changes, including housing needs and transportation systems covering larger areas with less population density.

Planners will also be needed as new and existing communities require extensive development and improved infrastructure, including housing, roads, sewer systems, parks, and schools.

However, federal, state, and local government budgets may affect the employment of planners in government, because development projects are contingent on available funds.

Employment projections data for urban and regional planners, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Urban and regional planners

19-3051 44,700 46,400 4 1,700 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of urban and regional planners.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2023 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Architects Architects

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.

Bachelor's degree $93,310
Cartographers and photogrammetrists Cartographers and Photogrammetrists

Cartographers and photogrammetrists collect, analyze, and interpret geographic information to create and update maps and related products.

Bachelor's degree $76,210
Civil engineers Civil Engineers

Civil engineers plan, design, and supervise the construction and maintenance of building and infrastructure projects.

Bachelor's degree $95,890
Economists Economists

Economists conduct research, prepare reports, and evaluate issues related to monetary and fiscal policy. They also may collect and analyze statistical data.

Master's degree $115,730
Geographers Geographers

Geographers study the Earth and the distribution of its land, features, and inhabitants.

Bachelor's degree $90,880
Landscape architects Landscape Architects

Landscape architects design parks and other outdoor spaces.

Bachelor's degree $79,320
Market research analysts Market Research Analysts

Market research analysts study consumer preferences, business conditions, and other factors to assess potential sales of a product or service.

Bachelor's degree $74,680
Surveyors Surveyors

Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries.

Bachelor's degree $68,540
Survey researchers Survey Researchers

Survey researchers design and conduct surveys and analyze data.

Master's degree $60,960
Political scientists Political Scientists

Political scientists study the origin, development, and operation of political systems.

Master's degree $132,350

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about careers in urban and regional planning, visit

American Planning Association

For more information about certification in urban and regional planning, visit

American Institute of Certified Planners

For more information about New Jersey licensure, visit

New Jersey State Board of Professional Planners

For more information about accredited urban and regional planning programs, visit

Planning Accreditation Board

O*NET

Urban and Regional Planners

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Urban and Regional Planners,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/urban-and-regional-planners.htm (visited May 16, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.