What Urban and Regional Planners Do
Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities.
Most urban and regional planners work full time during normal business hours, and some may work evenings or weekends to attend meetings with officials, planning commissions, and neighborhood groups.
How to Become an Urban or Regional Planner
Urban and regional planners need a master’s degree from an accredited planning program to qualify for most positions.
The median annual wage for urban and regional planners was $74,350 in May 2019.
Employment of urban and regional planners is projected to grow 11 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Demographic, transportation, and environmental changes will drive employment growth for planners.
Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth, and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas.
Urban and regional planners typically do the following:
- Meet with public officials, developers, and the public regarding development plans and land use
- Administer government plans or policies affecting land use
- Gather and analyze data from market research, censuses, and economic and environmental studies
- Conduct field investigations to analyze factors affecting community development and decline, including land use
- Review site plans submitted by developers
- Assess the feasibility of proposals and identify needed changes
- Recommend whether proposals should be approved or denied
- Present projects to communities, planning officials, and planning commissions
- Stay current on zoning and building codes, environmental regulations, and other legal issues
Urban and regional planners identify community needs and develop short- and long-term solutions to improve and revitalize communities and areas. As an area grows or changes, planners help communities manage the related economic, social, and environmental issues, such as planning new parks, sheltering the homeless, and making the region more attractive to businesses.
When beginning a project, planners often work with public officials, community members, and other groups to identify community issues and goals. Through research, data analysis, and collaboration with interest groups, they formulate strategies to address issues and to meet goals. Planners may also help carry out community plans by overseeing projects, enforcing zoning regulations, and organizing the work of the groups involved.
Urban and regional planners use a variety of tools and technology in their work. They commonly use statistical software, data visualization and presentation programs, financial spreadsheets, and other database and software programs. Geographic Information System (GIS) software is used to integrate data, such as for population density, with digital maps.
Urban and regional planners may specialize in areas such as transportation planning, community development, historic preservation, or urban design, among other fields of interest.
Planners often collaborate with public officials, civil engineers, environmental engineers, architects, lawyers, and real estate developers.
Urban and regional planners held about 39,700 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of urban and regional planners were as follows:
|Local government, excluding education and hospitals||72%|
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||11|
|Management, scientific, and technical consulting services||3|
Planners work throughout the country, but most work in large metropolitan areas.
Urban and regional planners may travel to inspect proposed changes and their impacts on land conditions, the environment, and land use.
Most urban and regional planners work full time during normal business hours, and some may work evenings or weekends to attend meetings with officials, planning commissions, and neighborhood groups. Some planners work more than 40 hours per week.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of urban and regional planners.
For more information about careers in urban and regional planning, visit
For more information about certification in urban and regional planning, visit
For more information about New Jersey licensure in planning, visit
For more information about accredited urban and regional planning programs, visit
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 ).