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Urban planning is the field responsible for determining how living settlements will be constructed and maintained, including methods of transportation, resource management, utility availability and zoning. Degrees in urban planning are offered from the associates level to PhD. Urban planning programs typically do not have their own school and are normally part of an architecture, design or public policy school. Urban planning requires students to have an education in multiple disciplines and the ability to utilize those disciplines in a cohesive manner.
An education in urban planning will cover various aspects of city building and management, particularly in the areas of law making and policy. Individuals in such programs will learn how to implement studies, utilize research, understand social behavior, and recognized the methods for implementing policies gleaned from such research. Some courses will involve the breaking down and explanation of theory used in urban planning, while others will use case studies to identify where policies succeeded and failed in a practical manner.
Courses in urban planning may include:
- Land Use and Physical Planning
- Race, Class and Gender
- Planning Concepts
- Housing and Community Development
- Public Policy
- Historic Preservation Planning
Though some schools offer a bachelor's program which may provide entry level work, career advancement will be limited unless higher education is pursued. It is advised that interested individuals pursue a master's degree and certification in geographic information systems in order to increase hiring potential. Jobs are expected to grow faster than average due to turnover and increased interest from the private sector.
Individuals working in urban planning may find employment in either the public or private sector, either through government, non-governmental organizations, or firms and businesses involved in development and growth. Some individuals may choose to pursue a career in politics in order to affect policy at a decision making level rather than through proposal. A career in urban planning allows for a variety of positions and specializations, and can be used to pursue career in other related fields as it utilizes techniques and methods that can be applied elsewhere.
The average salary for an urban planner is $60,000 per year, with the lowest 10% receiving below $38,000 per year and the highest 10% receiving over $91,500 per year.