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Career Profile: Urban Planner

Why Is Urban Planning a Job of Tomorrow?
Urban planners will be in high demand to help design more environmentally friendly cities that cut down on waste and costs. Employment opportunities for urban planners are expected to increase 15 percent by 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Urban planners make an average salary of $56,630 annually.

What Does an Urban Planner Do?
Urban planners are responsible for the development of long and short-term plans for the use of land. They recommend the best locations for schools, homes, shops and parks while also keeping in mind potential issues that may arise from these locations. Urban planners also work to alleviate traffic problems, pollution issues and other drawbacks that are common to city life. Strategic placing of future buildings is vital in addressing these issues, but urban planners also work to lessen urban stressors through the mapping of public transportation and construction of roads and streets. Environmental urban planners take particular interest in preserving wildlife habitats and finding areas to develop that would least damage the local ecosystem. For example, instead of breaking ground for a proposed shopping mall, urban planners may recommend reusing an old abandoned site for the building and developing it to make it attractive once more to consumers and businesses. Planners also deal with government codes and legislations, and must put together comprehensive reports.

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become an Urban Planner?
Urban planners must have a master’s degree in urban planning, urban design or another related field. A master’s degree typically takes two to three years to complete after earning a four-year bachelor’s degree. The master’s degree program covers such topics as land-use laws and urban design. After completion of an accredited urban planning program, prospective planners must gain certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners.

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