Urban planners map out the most effective use of a community’s land and infrastructure. They analyze economic, environmental, and social trends that help in the development of a plan for the land use.
Urban planners are typically independent contractors hired by a variety of clients: developers, private firms, government, and private property owners. They may develop a plan for a community based on a number of factors, including the goal for the area. Some urban planners focus more on developing and mapping residential neighborhoods, while others may be hired by a large corporation to develop a large group of corporate buildings.
Urban planners are required to know and adhere to local legislation and zoning codes. They must be knowledgeable about the infrastructure of the area they are developing. They must also consider any future issues that may arise, from traffic, crime, and sustainability. Often times, urban planners will be called in to help redevelop an area; this sometimes means that the client wants to create a more dense area.
Urban planners should hold a bachelor’s degree in the field from an accredited university. They also should get professional certification through the American Institute of Certified Planners by meeting specific educational and experience requirements; an exam is also given before they can obtain the certification. The AICP certification is not required to be an urban planner, but it can make candidates more marketable, especially to firms that require the certification before hiring.
Urban Planner Tasks
- Analyze and forecast financial impacts and costs of various strategies.
- Provide land use, environmental, and/or transportation plans and working documents.
- Assess regional environment to create plans, design concepts, and preliminary engineering budgets.
- Characterize population and types of usage for a region to evaluate needs, infrastructure, and costs.