Are you passionate about making cities more livable and sustainable? Then urban planning may be the perfect career for you! This step-by-step guide will walk you through the process of how to become an urban planner, from pursuing higher education to networking with other professionals. Keep reading to get started on your journey to becoming an urban planner.
Pursue your bachelor’s degree.
If you’re considering a career as an urban planner, then pursuing your bachelor’s degree is the first step. Urban planners play a vital role in the development of communities and cities, utilizing their knowledge and expertise to create sustainable, thriving places. By earning a bachelor’s degree in urban planning, you can gain the skills and tools needed to bring your vision to life.
When selecting a college or university for your bachelor’s degree, look for a school that offers courses in urban planning, architecture, environmental design, economics, or other related fields. It’s also beneficial to look for a school that offers internships, research opportunities, and field trips; these will give you first-hand experience and knowledge of the urban planning field.
Get your master’s degree.
Pursuing a master’s degree is an important step for those who wish to become urban planners. With a master’s degree, you’ll have the opportunity to hone your skills and knowledge in urban planning, gain the experience needed to be successful in the field, and be able to find employment more easily.
A master’s degree in urban planning or a related field will provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to understand the complexities of urban planning. You’ll learn about the history and development of urban planning, the various theories and approaches to urban planning, and the tools and techniques used in the field.
Obtain a certification.
While it’s not a requirement, obtaining a certification is wise as many employers prefer certified planners. With a certification, you’ll be recognized as a certified urban planner, and you’ll have the credentials necessary to advance your career.
The process of obtaining a certification is quite straightforward and there are a few different organizations that offer certifications, including the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and the American Planning Association (APA). Each of these organizations has its own process for obtaining a certification, but all require passing an exam.
Network with professionals and pursue job opportunities.
Once you’ve completed your studies in urban planning and have the necessary degrees and certification to practice, the final step to becoming an urban planner is to start networking with other professionals and pursue job opportunities. After all, it’s not just the qualifications that will get you the job—it’s who you know and the contacts you make that can make or break your chances of success.
Networking is an invaluable skill to have when looking for any job, and urban planning is no exception. Joining professional organizations such as the APA or the AICP can be a great way to start connecting with other professionals in the field. Attending conferences, seminars, and other industry events is also an excellent way to make connections and learn about job openings before they become public.
Once you’ve established your network, it’s time to start looking for job opportunities. You can start by searching job boards such as Indeed and Monster for postings in urban planning. You can also use your network to find out about upcoming job openings and opportunities. LinkedIn is a great tool for reaching out to people in your network and letting them know that you’re looking for a job.
After you’ve found a job that interests you, make sure to follow up with the hiring manager. If you’ve already connected with them through your network, this step is easy. If not, you can still reach out and introduce yourself and express your interest in the position.
Overall, becoming an urban planner can be a fulfilling career choice. By taking the time to understand and follow the steps outlined in this guide, aspiring urban planners can set themselves up for success in this rewarding, yet challenging, profession.