How to Become an Urban Planner

How to become an Urban Planner

The Basics of Becoming a Urban Planner

Are you investigating how to become an Urban Planner and want to know more about what an Urban or Regional Planner does? The main job of Urban and Regional Planners is to create plans or programs for not only the use of specific land, but also for physical. They achieve these goals by designing zoning, determining the effect of regulatory limitations on land projects, advising on project feasibility, evaluating the impact on the environment of a project and mediating community disputes relating to projects. They may also develop plans for public transportation systems.

O*NET has indicated that 81% of Urban Planners have a master’s degree! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at an undergraduate level, it is common for Urban or Regional Planners to have a bachelor’s degree in political science, economics, geography, or environmental design. At the master’s level, most have a degree in urban or regional planning.

An Urban Planner's Salary Potential

  • Lowest 10th%
  • Median
  • Highest 90th%


States with the Highest Employment Levels

North Carolina$66,0601,490

How Do Your Skills Stack Up?

day to day life of an urban planner

As reported by O*NET, these types of tasks are conducted every day in this role – would you feel comfortable performing these tasks as part of the day to day life of an Urban Planner?

What Will You Learn with a Master of Public Policy Degree?

A master of public policy degree may cover course work such as:

  • Public Policy Analysis
  • Research Methods
  • Ethics in Government
  • Economics Analysis
  • Campaigns and Elections

Master of public policy degrees typically help students gain an understanding of the foundations for key policy discussions to help them pursue roles in government, with non-profit organizations, or within the political process. Students may cover topics including the origin of American political institutions and thought; key governmental institutions that implement public policy; and the political and policy implications of poverty, class and race. Course work in most programs also focuses on how to effectively analyze public policy issues, and present arguments logically and convincingly.

Notable Urban Planners

According to, a few notable urban planners include:

  • Robert Moses, the ‘master builder’ of the NYC area in the mid-20th century, known for favoring highways over public transit, which influenced the creation of Long Island Suburbs
  • Le Corbusier, a Swiss-French architect and planner who was a pioneer in what is now known as modern architecture. His buildings intended to provide better living conditions for crowded cities
  • Eldridge Lovelace, urban planner for several U.S. cities, including Washington, D.C.
  • Edmund Bacon, Director of the Philadelphia City Planning Committee from 1949 to 1970, known for shaping the city into what it is today

FAQs About How to Become an Urban Planner

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Job information sourced from O*NET